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No matter who she’s with or what she’s doing, Jennifer Catanus is always staring at her phone. When it broke, she knew it would be a rough couple of days. She had no idea just how rough.
Like most human beings, Catanus stares at her phone for literally 15 of the 16 hours she’s awake each day. Like a blind person, she hears the people and events happening around her, but uses other senses to get around without looking up. With the phone gone, it was like her sight had been restored, and she didn’t like what he saw.
“Wow, there sure are a lot of mentally ill people on public transit,” said Catanus, nervous for the first time in four years of daily bus commutes. “Why the hell is that lady clipping her damn toenails? No one is confronting her. No one! Am I the only one who sees this?”
Out of the roughly 6,000 passengers packed into the 120 person capacity bus, only the mentally ill were conversing with others. Everyone else, young and old alike, were chatting with more interesting people or viewing more interesting things on their phones.
Catanus nudged the woman and politely requested she clip her toenails at home. The woman stared back intently, like a dog anticipating a treat. It took a few moments before Catanus realized the woman was relieving herself in her pants.
A man with a rolling suitcase full of breakfast pastries and candy for sale entered the bus at the next stop. Catanus took out money to buy a danish from him, just as she had each morning for the past four years. As she handed the money over, she noticed the seller’s genitalia was exposed. A used condom hung on the end of the merchant’s manhood casually, as if it were a button he’d forgotten to fasten or a piece of lint he’d failed to notice on his shoulder.
“WHY DIDN’T ANY OF YOU WARN ME ABOUT THIS?!” shouted Catanus. “I’ve been buying and putting these into my mouth for four years! Why didn’t any of you warn me that his junk was out? Is everyone on public transit complete sociopaths or something?!”
She quickly realized the answer to her own question. She had been one of them once, calm and distracted by the soft glow of her phone. Now that she was free, she wanted nothing more than to erase all she had seen and return to that world of blissful ignorance.
“More crazy bitches on this bus every day,” mumbled one man, taking a bite out of his danish without bothering to look up and see what the commotion was about.
The rest of the bus riders ignored Catanus, continuing to stare at their phones. She envied them. A few bought danishes, blissfully unaware of the merchant’s creepy flaccid penis. He reached the rear of the bus and turned around, making his way back to the exit. While passing, his exposed penis brushed against Catanus’ hair.
“I need my phone back!” screamed Catanus, on the verge of tears. “I NEED A PHONE RIGHT NOW! I can’t handle real life!”
To calm herself, Catanus stared into her empty hand for the rest of the bus ride. The familiarity of the pose soothed her.
She arrived at work to find even more shocking reveals. Catanus was unaware that the office she works in has no windows, or that she’s the only employee there under the age of 50.
“That’s why my phone reception was so slow,” said Catanus. “It’s because I work in a sweatshop for elderly people. Wait, where’s David? Do I even want to know?”
David Bevins is Catanus’ boyfriend. They’ve been dating for two years. He is 78 years old, something the 25-year-old Catanus was unaware of because she spent every waking moment of their dates browsing the internet for pop culture gossip she could make humorous observations about at the table. Bevins thought her impersonal nature was annoying, but found other things to love about her.
“I’m in it for the sex,” said Bevins. “What I like best about dating a young girl like Jennifer is if she falls asleep after sex, I don’t have to check for a pulse the next morning. The phone thing is minor. I used to do the same thing to my third wife by burying my nose in a book every time she tried to talk to me.”
The long work day finally ended at 6. Before stopping home, the clearly shaken Catanus stopped at the post office to pick up a package. This was her worst mistake of all.
“Good lord, what are those terrifying things in there?!” said Catanus, pale as a ghost as she sprinted back outside. “They’re not even people! Just monsterish blobs of fiery anger and bitterness. All the people on my phone look like Cate Blanchett or Leonardo DiCaprio. I mean boy, I thought David Schwimmer was ugly, but real people are barely human! I can’t take this anymore.”
Catanus abandoned her package and returned home to hide under her bed until a replacement phone arrives. Fortunately for Catanus, she still has a big screen TV to keep her from realizing how dumpy her apartment looks.