Diagnosis: McPhIDS

Dear Friends,

Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

I learned this morning that I have been diagnosed with a recently identified, trauma-related ailment spawned by the technology sector. This ailment is known as McPhIDS, the acronym for My Cell Phone Is Dead Syndrome. This occurs when one’s indispensible mobile phone or similar device inexplicably stops functioning.

(Did I mention that technology sucks?)

Here’s what happened . . .

My alleged smart phone went dumb. As in mute.

It died last night.

Dumb Phone RIP
Dumb Phone RIP

Black screen.

Dead as the proverbial door nail.

I press the ON button. Nothing.

Plug it into the charger. No response.

It’s only four [expletive deleted] months old!

The dread of having to deal with an impudent millennial at T-Mobile claws through my mind. I do NOT want to deal with this.

(Did I mention that technology sucks?)

OK. First things first. Make coffee.

Caffeine enthused, I try to find the paperwork to take with me that proves I own the phone—my wife being the primary name on the account, and she being halfway around the world gazing at the descendants of dinosaurs, and only reachable by texting. Catch-22.

Not a great start for the week.

Having dealt with computers for the past 36 years, I learned (and often employed) the three-finger salute—Alt-Cntl-Delete—to reboot a blue-screen machine. But that’s not an option with a black-screen digital phone.

Then the proverbial light bulb flickered on. I can’t be the only one with this problem.

Hello, Google.


Long string of results for “dead cell phone.”

I found that DPS (Dead Phone Syndrome) is common. So common, in fact, we should expect it. But is that stated anywhere in the marketing hype or even in the fine print of the owner’s manual? Of course not. That would mean admitting that . . . say it . . . technology sucks! I’m thinking that the cell phone manufacturers, like Big Pharma, ought to be required to fast-talk this disclaimer at the end of their commercials.

But I digress.

I take a quick scroll through the results and find a simple solution: Remove, then reinstall the battery.

Easy, schmeasy, right?

Not. Nadda. Zippity-doo-dah.

Still dead.

(Did I mention that technology sucks?)

Time for the defibrillator.

I paddle a little deeper into the depths of the Internet. (Thankfully, I didn’t have to dive into the Dark Web.)

I learn that DPS can be caused by a “firmware” problem, and a simple reboot will not solve it. To fix it, one must not only remove the battery, but one must also press the ON/OFF button and hold it down for at least one full minute. That, according to the explanation from the helpful geek, drains any residual electrons playing hide-and-seek in the dark recesses of the SIM card.

Sort of like a full-body blood transfusion. Sort of like saying that to save the patient, we must kill him. Or, as the generals said during the Vietnam Era, to save the village, we had to destroy it.

So, I dutifully do as instructed. I take a deep breath, press the button, and hold it (my breath as well as the button) while I silently count off the 60 seconds, thinking Mike Wallace might appear on screen if it actually works.


The chime sounds and a magenta SAMSUNG crawls across the screen amid faux fireworks. (But not even the ghost of Mike Wallace appears.)

I immediately nickname the phone Lazarus.

I check my contacts. All there.

I check my photos. All there.

I check my apps. Oh, right. I don’t use apps. (Well, OK, one birding app.)

Then I notice the date: Thursday, December 31, 0000.

Huh? It’s supposed to be Monday, February 4, 2019.

Doo-doo-doo-doo. Twilight Zone time.

I look around the house and everything seems normal. I look out the window. I do not appear to be in Bethlehem, even though the torrential rain of biblical proportions keeps pounding on the roof.

I double-check the bird-a-day calendar on the kitchen counter. Yep, Monday, February 4, 2019.

I check the date on the phone again: Thursday, December 31, 0000.

And I think: What would Jesus do?

I close my eyes and take several deep breaths, breathing out slowly.

I will get through this. I will get through this.

When I open my eyes, the correct date appears on screen.


So, take heart. This DPS does not occur due to operator error, or the result of dropping said device into bath water, or a toilet, or off the balcony of a tall building, or out of the window of moving motor vehicle. It’s similar to a human having a heart attack. As my cardiologist explained to me, –it happens.

(Did I mention that technology sucks?)

And not if, but when, it happens to you, the McPhIDS may begin instantly, or it may slowly build as repeated efforts to resuscitate the device fail.

McPhIDS is not known to be fatal (to humans), but symptoms may range from deep depression and uncontrolled sobbing to lengthy strings of curse words to items being thrown at walls and through windows, and, in extreme cases, stomping said items into small pieces. (Take it from me, the latter is not recommended—the Humpty Dumpty procedure may not be successful.)

Whew! I feel better already. Thank you for indulging me. And if you, too, feel an attack of McPhIDS coming on, reach out to me. After all, I’ve been there.

About Polishing Your Prose

Larry M Edwards is an award-winning investigative journalist, author, editor and publishing consultant. He is the author of three books, and has edited dozens of nonfiction and fiction book manuscripts. Under Wigeon Publishing, he has produced six books. As author, "Dare I Call It Murder? A Memoir of Violent Loss" won First Place in the San Diego Book Awards in 2012 (unpublished memoir) and 2014, Best Published Memoir. The book has also been nominated for a number of awards, including: Pulitzer Prize, Benjamin Franklin Award, Washington State Book Award, and One Book, One San Diego. As Editor, "Murder Survivor’s Handbook: Real-Life Stories, Tips & Resources" won the Gold Award in the 2015 Benjamin Franklin Book Awards, Self-Help. For a sample edit and cost estimate, contact Larry: larry [at] larryedwards [dot] com -- www.larryedwards.com -- www.dareicallitmurder.com -- www.larryedwards.com/wigeonpublishing/
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