I downloaded a new application for my smart phone that’s a doomsday or death app. Interestingly enough, my friend Shaun, the mountain climber, told me about it while we were lifting weights at the gym. Ever since his heart attack, he told me, he has been searching for such a devise, and now that he has found it – in, of all things, an app for his phone – he follows it daily. He suggested, if I am planning to run a marathon, which he says is like training to die, that I follow it too. Given I haven’t run in twenty years, turned sixty this summer, and recently lost over sixty-five pounds, taking time to track my death, which I know from all of this training is a train-wreck ahead, makes a lot of sense to me.
My wife thinks Shaun is a crazy man. She says, anyone who climbs enough mountains to give himself a heart attack has to be taken with a significant “grain of salt.” She wants to know, if Shaun suggested I jump off a bridge as a way to lose weight, if I would. Okay, okay, if he was into it, I might peak over the edge… After all, how high was the bridge? How much weight are we talking about? What exactly does my death app say?
You see, my new death app, rather than showing the time remaining to a nuclear holocaust, shows me exactly when I will pass into “greener pastures.” If I am to die of old age, it can tell, based on my health, life-style, calories, weight, sleep habits, etc., when I will enter the next world. Of course, it can’t tell if, or when, I might die in an inopportune car crash or succumb, even, to a freak accident, like being hit in the head by a falling barbell, but, other than that, Shaun says, it is fairly accurate.
My new app isn’t for the faint of heart but isn’t fatalistic either. I can add minutes or days as well as take them away. It’s like gambling. If I do something good, it gives me extra time. If I screw up, I can lose a year – you know, that sort of thing. Running gives me more time, yet, I’ve discovered, much to Shaun’s prediction, training for a marathon is eliminating months of my life. Taking time to pet dogs, for example, add minutes, while petting stray wolves cuts deeply into my remaining days. A jar of Nutella is awful in terms of longevity, I have found (after the fact), especially late at night after several glasses of scotch, where as orange juice, Vitamin C tablets, and aspirin the next morning can restore all sorts of extra minutes to my life-o-meter.
A nice feature of my app is that I can look ahead into my future. I can estimate the impact of something trivial, like eating the remaining ice cream in the freezer, or something more significant, like quitting my job and moving to Cusco, Peru. My app gives me the “end” result to help me plan my day, week, or life, and, what is especially cool, it doesn’t take that long to tell me! Even in swimming across Lake Michigan or joining the rebels in the Mid-East, it can tell me right away the ramifications of such rash, or sound, decisions.
Of course, I can look back too. What if I had exercised last night like I said I would? What if I had stopped myself and not opened a second bottle of wine late Friday night after everyone else had gone to bed? What if I hadn’t driven fourteen hours straight, but shared the wheel with my spouse, even though she can be a crazy driver.
One feature that’s especially good for me is that it can tell me how much time I’ve blown doing idiotic things. That’s important as I spend a lot of time doing such things and wondering about their ramifications.
My app told me, for example, to forget about breaking the second-floor window two weekends ago while trying to fix the shutter, I only lost a day or two. It indicated, in fact, that I could have lost a heck of a lot more had I landed on my back in the broken glass when I leaped from the ladder as it fell away from the house.
You know, when you say, “Jeez, that was a close one!” My death app agreed! ‘Boy, you aren’t kidding,’ read the text, ‘better take a nap.’
Every once in awhile my app will go off with a flashing light and a small announcement like, “Warning! Warning!” – just in case I don’t notice my phone flashing in my pocket. Usually, it’s because I am about to kill someone, but that, I think, is because I set it up with the alarm feature.
My app obviously thinks murder will shorten my life-span. Clearly, I need to play with it some more to see if I can commit “murder” and still live a long and happy life. However, I found, my app could care less about happiness. It’s just concerned with the facts. If I kill somebody, I can expect my life expectancy to diminish, regardless if I’m depressed or giddy as a loon.
Of course, my app’s free and that means I constantly have to delete all sorts of shoe ads and ads to date women half my age (as if my wife wouldn’t kill me – ‘Warning! Warning!’), and, every once in awhile, when I am out of range of the signal tower, I receive false readings – which can give you quite a start – but the app usually apologies afterward. I should say, it sends an apologetic message:
‘Please disregard your imminent death.’
Unfortunately, now when I see a warning, I can’t help but wonder if I should duck, call an ambulance, or wait for confirmation…
Shaun says, as your time draws near, the app will make the phone glow – he says, they call it the halo effect – but I haven’t seen that feature kick in yet, so who knows if it actually works. Now that I know this, though, I find I am constantly studying my phone to see if it might be glowing, if not just a little, giving me a heads up as to the rest of my day.
Shaun told me that I can go beyond my time, but the app, itself, says that’s nearly impossible, as time is added or subtracted for one reason or another until it truly is time. However, if in the case of someone literally going past the app’s drop-dead date, then the company says in the fine print you’ve officially cheated death and must provide the name of someone, say, in your office, or a neighbor, or your spouse, to restore order. I have developed a list of whom I will send to the next world – just in case this pops up on my phone.
Otherwise, it says, I can apply to become a permanent member of the “walking dead.” What that means exactly, I really don’t know. I have never seen octogenarians hanging out as the walking dead, but it doesn’t sound very fulfilling…
At the bottom of the app’s screen, I discovered, rather than a 1-800 number to call the company if something fails or the app, itself, dies, the numbers listed are to a “St. Peter at the Pearly Gates” (whoever and wherever that is) or, interestingly enough, a Mister “Angel of Death.” A lot depends, I guess, on who’s working that particular day.
Clearly the company is having fun with this. Though, I don’t think it would be all that funny asking the “Angel of Death” about my app if it said I only had ten minutes remaining. Then, it seems to me, I really would want to talk to a serious minded individual or, at least, a live voice.
Shaun says, my death app is just the thing for sixty-year-olds, and I can’t help but agree. There is still time to look ahead, but it is important to come to terms with the time remaining too. I don’t think twenty-year-olds will find it nearly as fascinating, and, I suspect, even, the app is less accurate in its calculations. However, being older, I must admit, man-oh-day, this death app is pretty precise. Needless to say, I am not getting out of bed seven thousand, one hundred and seven days from now.
Training for the marathon is like racing towards that point, and Shaun says (my wife agrees), once I cross that finish line, there is going back. Of course, they don’t know my plan for joining the “running dead.” It’s a special club, I found, for sixty-year-olds who find themselves on race day running through greener pastures…
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