Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

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Does Your Phone Have Bellybutton Lint?

Does Your Phone Have Bellybutton Lint?

MichaelSunnarborg / May 01, 2017 Article, Image, Link / Leave a Comment

Admit it. You have a relationship with your phone. Seriously. You do. Don’t believe me? Try going an entire day without it, or a half-day, or even just an hour (for some).

Believe me now?

Phones have become our companions. And as with any relationship, we will have good days and not-so-good days. When our technology runs great, everyone is happy. But on down days, not so much.

Technology has intertwined itself so completely into our lives that we might not even realize how much we rely on it. I even had to experiment with a trial separation from my phone this year to find better balance in our relationship—particularly while driving.

Even though we were able to navigate through our car conundrum, my phone and I were recently faced with another situation: The charging cables were no longer doing their job. They kept popping out each time I went to plug them in.

I tried buying new charging cables but had the same result. My phone was not charging consistently or completely. I tried updating the phone’s operating system. Nope. I tried using different outlets in different places. No-go. I even tried buying a new phone case. No change. I was out of ideas.

Feeling defeated, I finally decided it was time to visit my local Verizon store in West End—the same store where I had purchased the phone. I’d always enjoyed a positive experience at that location: the staff is friendly, the wait is usually short, and the service is fast.

As I drove to the store, I tried to remain optimistic—but my doubts began to get the best of me. So I examined my catastrophic assumptions:

  1. Since I’ve dropped the phone several times, it’s dying and destined for the recycle bin.
  2. The warranty has expired, so I will need to buy a new phone ($700+).
  3. I had recently used my laptop—instead of my main desktop—to back it up, so I will lose all my contacts, pictures, and other data if the back-up was unsuccessful.


When I arrived at the store, I shared the details of my dilemma with Bobby, the sales rep. Based on previous visits, I assumed there would be an entire process of testing, diagnostics, calling Apple Customer Service, etc., so I resigned myself to be ready to practice patience. After all, this was my phone—my umbilical cord to the world. It felt like bringing my child into the ER.

“Let me take a look at it,” Bobby said with a smile.

So I handed him my phone. He looked at front and back, flipped it over, and then peered intently into the lightning connector socket on the bottom. Then he looked up at me.

“I think I know what’s wrong.”

He reached into his drawer, pulled out a paperclip that had been slightly opened, and began poking around in the socket hole.

“You’ve got lint that’s built-up over time. That’s why your power cord keeps popping out. Happens all the time. I’m just cleaning it out.”

Within 10 seconds, he was done.

“There ya go,” he said with a smile as he handed me back my phone.

“That’s it?”


Wow—from problem to solution in less than 90 seconds. Now, that’s customer service.

On my way out the door, I thanked Bobby and told him he deserved a raise. He just chuckled and waved goodbye. My phone felt like brand new. All was well with the world again.

*   *   *

Because I’m always looking for the learning in the lesson, what did I learn?

If at first you don’t succeed, ask someone else. My uber-technical confidence and impertinent hubris had me believing that I was the only person responsible for finding a solution to my problem, but that’s never true. Don’t have a buddy nearby? Just look to the web. If you’ve asked a question, another 150 people (or more) have also asked the same question, and many of them have posted the solution online or created a YouTube video about it. In hindsight, I’m surprised I didn’t Google it. When in doubt, reach out.

Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. Yet again, Mom was right. When we respond to a problem with panic and fear, we start ascending a mountain that doesn’t exist. While there are always worst-case scenarios, they are rare. Usually, the answers to our most difficult questions aren’t extremely complicated—we’re just not on the wavelength of the solution when we’re still focused on the problem. Soften your stance and the answers will come.

Assumptions are inevitable. So, about those assumptions:

  1. My phone wasn’t toast.
  2. No repairs, so no warranty issues.
  3. Nothing happened to my data.

In the wise words of my Aunt Verna, “All is not what is seems.” My assumptions had taken me down a long, unnecessary mental rabbit trail that I could have avoided had I only considered the many possibilities that exist in any situation. We just need to stay present and take one step at a time.

Trust the process. Often, we don’t know what events or circumstances need to occur in order for other variables to come into play. Even when we are doubtful or think we’ve got it all figured out, there will always be more to the story. If we keep an open mind, we may discover that things always working out for the best—even the tough stuff.

Are phone cords popping out for you, too? Then perhaps it’s time to use that spare paper clip to do some bellybutton cleaning of your own. Oh, and I mean on your phone, not yourself.

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg helps people maintain balance during transitions in their work, relationships, and life. Learn more at michaelsunnarborg.com

Image: Pixabay.com

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