What Happens When You Let a Complete Stranger Hold Your iPhone



A couple days ago I was at a prayer meeting. I was sitting in a blue chair, and had strategically reserved an empty chair on my left and one on my right so I could have my space. There was live music and I wanted to read.

My iPhone buzzed, and I pulled it out to read, and then reply, to a text message. A few minutes later it buzzed again. Reply. Buzz. Reply.

By the third text, a 30-something Asian lady, sitting two chairs over (and who I’m nearly positive had never seen an iPhone before), asks me what sort of phone I have. In very broken English. In a room with live music. Two seats over from me.

At first, she asked me to show her how it worked. I held it out and used my thumb to slide back and forth between splash screens, and I pulled up the contacts app and showed her the keypad for the phone.

After my 10-second demo she asked if she could check her email really quick (which I knew was surely just an excuse to fiddle with the phone). I put it back in my pocket and told her that only my email works on it, because you have to set it up.

But her eyes had already been lit up, and I knew for sure she had never seen one before, because she pulled out her Fat ‘Lil Notebook and asked me to write down what it was and what it does.

I wasn’t quite sure how to fulfill her request, so I took a pen and wrote:

  • Apple iPhone

  • Make calls
  • Get text messages
  • Check email

She then asked me to write down where she could go get one. So I cleverly wrote:

  • Apple Store

If anyone was watching us it must have been a hilarious sight. I was clearly in an awkward situation, and this lady was oblivious to it. She was enthralled and apparently had no pre-conceived notions about social boundaries.

As I hand her notebook back she finally works up her confidence and flat-out asks me to hold the thing.

I very much wanted to say ‘no’, but I like to think of myself as a nice guy; sharing is caring, you know? I slowly pull it out of my pocket and as I’m hesitantly passing it over the empty chair my first thought was, “Is she going to steal it?”

But my second thought was, “If she does try to run I could totally take her.”

I pass it off, and she plays with it for (not kidding) 30 minutes. Every couple minutes she leans over and asks me how to “get back to that one screen,” or “make the things stop wiggling,” or “open up Google”.

Once I was settled that she was innocent and harmless I relaxed a bit. At the 25 minute mark I leaned over and ask if she was done with it.

“Umm… No, not yet.” She replied.

Finally I just had to ask for it back.

The awkwardness was totally worth the great story I got out of it. Plus, it was a hoot to watch someone discover the iPhone for the first time.

Usually, when someone who hasn’t had a hands-on experience with an iPhone asks me to look at it, they will unlock it, stare at the home screen, maybe click on Safari and then hand it back. But this woman was dedicated; she was determined to fiddle until she was done.

And finally, to top it off, today I opened up Mobile Safari to see what sort of web-browsing she did. The four new browser windows she loaded?

  1. A Google search for Tom Cruise Movies
  2. The Official Jet Li Website
  3. www.finalfantasy.com (which doesn’t exist)
  4. Totally Obfuscuated