Falling for an iPhone

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Crash detection by her iPhone14 disrupts a skier’s fun. How can she avoid being delayed by a visit from the ski patrol?

***Author's Note - This story was inspired by a New York Times article entitled "My Watch Thinks I'm Dead."


February 11, 2023 – Breckenridge, Colorado, USA

Conditions were just about perfect at Breckenridge Ski Resort.  The mountain was covered with blindingly white snow and the sky was clear and blue.  The brisk temperature may have required extra clothing layers, but it kept the slopes from becoming prematurely slushy.

Chloe and Twigs carried their skis as they hurried toward a lift at the bottom of the hill.  “We gotta get our money’s worth,” Twigs said excitedly.  “Every minute counts.”  When he saw the long line in front of the lift, he turned to Chloe and groaned.  “No way we’re getting stuck in that.  Just follow me and act natural.”

Chloe reluctantly followed as Twigs walked straight toward the loading area instead of the line’s end.

“Hey, we made it just in time,” Twigs called to two teenage skiers.  “Thanks for waiting for us.”

The teenagers gave Twigs a confused look but he acted like they were good friends and he launched into a description of the run they were about to try next.  The group standing behind the teenagers were clearly annoyed by Twigs, but not enough to be confrontational.

Chloe kept her head down and tried to act only loosely associated with Twigs.  Of all the people in her friend group, he was the last one she would have chosen as a ski partner.  He was loud and attention hungry.  Everything he wore clashed with her own cute ski outfit, including his wool cap in the shape of an octopus.  But when Twigs put out the offer to drive all the way from Denver, Chloe could not pass up the chance to get at least one ski day in for the season.

Within a minute of cutting the line, Chloe and Twigs were sitting next to the teenagers as the lift’s cable hoisted their chair up the steep slope.  Twigs leaned over to Chloe and said with a grin, “See, I told you we weren’t going to wait.  We saved at least ten minutes.”  Twigs turned all the way around and called, “See ya, suckers,” to the skiers still waiting on the ground.

All the way up the lift, Twigs bragged about his skills and how he lived for sunny days on the slopes.  “Follow me!” he called to Chloe at the top of the hill.  “I know you’ll like this run to warm up.”

Chloe obediently trailed Twigs until they were staring down a medium-grade run.  Twigs threw himself forward and shouted for Chloe to follow.  She pushed off and picked up speed.  Her heart raced as she breathed in the cold air and felt the ground slip past her feet.

Her muscle memory from earlier ski trips quickly returned, but Chloe was not ready to go as fast as Twigs.  As the gap between them widened, Chloe turned too sharply and lost her balance.  She tumbled to the ground and one of her skis detached from her boot.

Chloe sat up a bit embarrassed and laughed to herself.  To her surprise, Twigs stopped and slowly worked his way back up the hill.  He grabbed her ski and dragged it back to her as other skiers swooshed past.

“I thought you said you’d done this before,” Twigs called in a teasing voice.

“I always fall once.  At least I got it out of the way early,” Chloe called back.

Before reaching for her ski, Chloe suddenly realized that her phone was vibrating in her jacket.  She pulled off her gloves and unzipped her first layer to retrieve the phone and turn it off.  When she looked down at the screen, she muttered, “Oh no.”

“What’s up?”

“My phone thinks I’m dead.  You know how the iPhone14 calls 911 when it thinks you’ve been in an accident?  Well, mine just did it.”

“Can’t you stop it?”

“You’ve got ten seconds to cancel and then it’s too late.  So now somebody thinks I’m in trouble.”

Twigs turned and looked anxiously down the mountain.  “This isn’t good.  Ski patrol’s going to come up here.  They know your coordinates.”

“I’ll just tell them I’m fine.  It was barely a fall.”

“They won’t believe you.  It’ll be this big production.  They’ll want to take you down and test you for a concussion.  They’ll make you sit there for observation.  We’re talking at least two hours of lost time.  It happened to a buddy of mine.”

“Then what are we supposed to do?”

Twigs pulled the phone out of Chloe’s hands.  “I’ve got a plan.  We’ll leave this on top of the snow and after they show up we’ll come along and say you lost it.  It fell out of your pocket.”

“How is that better than me standing here holding the phone?”

“Trust me, it’s better.”

Chloe’s phone was protected by a bright pink case.  Twigs placed it face down on the snow so that the case was clearly visible.  Then he practically dragged Chloe to some nearby trees where they had a clear view of the phone and the buildings at the bottom of the mountain.

“We should see a snowmobile coming any second,” Twigs said, his eyes searching for any motion in the distance.

“What if somebody hits my phone?  Do you know how much that thing costs?  This is dumb.”

“Just chill.  Would you rather go waste your time having someone pointing a flashlight in your eyes?  No one’s going to hit your phone.  It’s so pink, you can see it from a mile away.”

Chloe continued to argue, but Twigs was holding one of her skis.  She could not simply take off down the mountain one-legged.  She eventually stopped complaining about her exposed phone and began complaining about her cold and exposed face.

“I don’t understand it,” Twigs cried.  “They should have been here way before now.  This is the worst ski patrol in the history of the world.  What are they waiting for?  They’re all probably down there drinking hot chocolate and eating funnel cakes.”

“That’s where we should be,” Chloe snapped.

“What if someone was actually hurt?  Are they just gonna let them die up here?”

While Chloe and Twigs shivered and waited, the distress message sent by the iPhone14 had been received by the Summit County emergency response center.  Sheriff Zack Walker happened to be in the room when it arrived.

“Another one of those triggered messages from an iPhone,” the operator said to the sheriff.

“Where’s it coming from?”

“Breckenridge.  The ski resort.”

“How many is that today?”

“Six so far.”

“You know what to do.  Ignore it.”

Sheriff Walker and the call center had been dealing with emergency calls from iPhones and Apple Watches all through the ski season.  Something about skiing set them off and every time one was investigated, it turned out to be a false alarm.  Sheriff Walker had complained to Apple and told them they needed to set up their own emergency response system, but the distress signals continued to arrive and be ignored.

Midway up a Breckenridge mountain, Twigs began swearing and threatened lawsuits against the ski patrol for negligence.

“First you were freaked out they were coming and now you’re freaked out they’re not coming,” Chloe yelled at him.  “We should just go.”

“You watch.  As soon as we grab your phone, they’re gonna show up.”

Twigs did not get the chance to test his theory because a few moments later a passing skier paused to pick up the very pink phone.  He barely appeared to slow down as he leaned over and plucked it from the snow.

“Hey!  That’s mine!” Chloe screamed.  “Stop!  Stop!”  She turned to Twigs.  “Give me my ski back!  We gotta catch him!”

The man with the phone wore a striped, yellow jacket.  Twigs was sure he would be easy to spot, but he had a large head start.  By the time Twigs and Chloe reached the bottom of the mountain, the yellow jacket had disappeared.

“Wow, sorry about that,” Twigs said to Chloe in a pained voice.  “Stealing a phone is about the lamest thing you can do.  But we might as well enjoy the slopes while we’re here.”

“Leaving that phone in the snow was your idiot idea!  You’re not going anywhere until we find it.  It’s got all my data and cost over $1000.”

Twigs slumped his shoulders but agreed to help.  They ran through the café and locker areas, looking for the yellow jacket.  Twigs checked all the restrooms.  Then they inspected the lift lines before concluding that the man and the jacket had completely vanished.

“What if he wasn’t stealing it?” Chloe asked herself aloud.  “What if he picked it up to return it?”  She turned toward Twigs.  “Is there a lost and found?  Where would you take something valuable if you wanted to return it?”

“I don’t know.  Maybe the ski patrol.”

“Right.  The ski patrol.”

Twigs trailed Chloe as she followed the signs marked with a red cross, which pointed the way to the ski patrol’s office.  Behind a thick wooden door, they found a giant of a man behind a rustic counter.  His face was sunburned and his bushy mustache matched his thick, strawberry-blonde hair.

“I’m Rich.  What can I do for you?” the ski patrol man bellowed.

“If you’re so rich, why are you working here?” Twigs asked in a voice that made it hard to tell if he was joking.

“My name is Rich.  I wasn’t bragging about having a lot of money,” the ski patrol man replied, looking annoyed.

Before Chloe could ask a real question, a walkie-talkie crackled from behind the counter.  Rich picked it up and held a heated conversation about a broken snowmobile.  Then he turned his attention back to his guests.

“I was wondering if people ever returned things here.  Like a phone,” Chloe said, sounding very intimidated.

Rich sighed and rolled his eyes.  “One of you knuckleheads lost your phone, huh?  What’s it look like?”

“You can’t miss it.  It’s in a bright pink case.  It’s an iPhone14.”

Rich reached into a cardboard box under the counter and retrieved Chloe’s phone.  He dropped it in front of her and asked, “This it?”

“Oh yes!  It’s a miracle!”  Chloe picked up the phone and turned it over.  “And nothing’s broken.”

“You better log into it so I know it’s yours,” Rich said gruffly.

Chloe tapped in her password and Rich acted satisfied.  “So that’s an iPhone14?  You turn off the collision reporting yet?”

“No.  Why would I do that?”

“Those phones go off all the time for no good reason.  Something to do with skiing.  The sheriff’s office is tired of getting messages.  They don’t even tell us about them anymore.”

Chloe shot Twigs a knowing glare and said, “Oh really?”

“That’s why there are signs everywhere telling people to turn them off,” Rich continued.

“What signs?  We didn’t see any signs.”

“They’re all over the place.  When you get in line for the lift, there’s a big sign explaining it.  You been up the lift today?”

Chloe remembered how they had cut in line for the lift.  Obviously, they had missed any sign about deactivating phones.  She glared at Twigs and then said to Rich, “I guess we weren’t paying attention.”

Rich shook his head in frustration.  “Try looking around once in a while.  And turn that phone off.  I don’t want you bothering the sheriff.”

As Chloe walked out of the ski patrol office, she noted that exactly two hours had passed since her phone sent the 911 message.  She tapped to deactivate the collision alarm.

“Now we’ve got some time to make up before the whole day’s ruined,” Twigs announced.  “Follow me.”

“Oh no!  We’ve already made that mistake.  From now on, you follow me.”


For more stories like this one, including audio versions, please visit 500ironicstories.com


Submitted: March 18, 2023

© Copyright 2023 Aaron Hawkins. All rights reserved.

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