May Bloom: "Phone Farm"

Many thanks to Susan E. and Monica T. for submitting their good deeds experiences that inspired me to write this month’s flash fiction story titled Phone Farm. Below are excerpts from what Susan and Monica submitted.

“We found an iPhone while walking around an arboretum. We figured out how to get in and contact the owner. She met us at a gas station and hugged us, crying. She’s 23, living with cousins, and apparently close to being homeless. She’d been missing work because the phone is the only communication device she had. It’s amazing how much our lives depend on that one little electronic box- communications, calendars, personal photos. Also humbling is that if some of us lost a phone we’d just go get another – for others, it is their lifeblood, they are absolutely lost without it.”  – Susan E.

“While riding the Los Angeles Green Line train we were informed that we had to change trains. We disembarked and crossed the platform to another train. On the detour one of the passengers dropped her cell phone. Fortunately another passenger spotted this, backtracked, retrieved it, and returned it to its very grateful owner. Our phones are so important! They allow us to communicate and help us organize information. It is easy to see why the passenger was happy that her cell phone was returned.” –  Monica T.

"Phone Farm"

The Sampson twins, Toshie and Stevie, had earned fortunes from tech industry management careers. Every day for two decades they’d endured traffic-burdened city streets and claustrophobic hi-rise elevator rides. At age forty-nine, they opted to call it quits and commit to ‘giving back’ somehow in some socially responsible way. During their first summer of liberation from the daily grind, the twins enjoyed a getaway across the river from the city and stumbled on a large vacant brownish, greenish piece of land begging to be repurposed. Toshie and Stevie bought the quarter acre plot and combined their love of nature with technical ingenuity to create and sow a crop suited for the lot’s soiled soil- cell phones.

They formulated a proprietary mashup of integrated circuits, sound chips, camera image sensors, and then hatched these cell phone seedlings in a greenhouse they had erected next to their newly acquired ‘farmland.’ Once sprouted, the twins planted them in dozens of dirt rows that ended up yielding hundreds of cell phones within a week. Contrary to what the twins initially hypothesized; steady rains sped up rather than stemmed cell phone growth. The more rain, the better they discovered.   

Toshie and Stevie spent day and night picking the bountiful yields. So they hired local help at double the prevailing living wage. They worked side-by-side with them to harvest and ship out freshly picked cell phones. Toshie and Stevie shared their crops with two audience segments – those who could never afford a phone, and those who could not afford to replace a lost or damaged one. Customers, referred through benevolent groups and networks, paid seven dollars per unit to help defray packaging and shipping costs. The twins only asked that users of their product refrain from speaking, sharing, or depicting ugly things on their new devices. Toshie and Stevie reveled in the volume of favorable responses to this one request.