I slept through my alarm—okay, I slept through all five of them. When I finally woke up and realized that I was supposed to be at work five minutes ago, I performed a fast-forwarded version of my morning ritual and booked it to my car. Then I slammed my foot in the door. F$%*!
I was grumpy. I couldn’t shake it, and that made me grumpier. It was just one of those days—the kind where the simplest tasks feel impossible, where every interaction taps your energy reserves and you can’t stop thinking about crawling back into bed.
I’d told a friend I’d fix her boyfriend’s shattered iPhone after work, and I was already starting to dread it—but friends don’t let friends live with spiderwebbed screens and bloody fingers, so I made good on my word.
Diving Inside an iPhone
Her boyfriend had an iPhone 6s, which was the phone I carried for three and a half years before getting my iPhone XS. It was the first phone I ever repaired—and over the course of its life, I gave it two batteries, three screens, two home buttons, and all new screws. I knew this model better than the left side of Kelsea Weber’s head (which I stare at for hours every day at work).
I examined his phone on my coffee table—the screen was so shattered that I could barely make out the “slide to power off” prompt when I shut it down. I applied a piece of packing tape across the display to prevent the glass from splintering off during the repair, and then got to work.
After that, I swear something came over me—it was like my body switched gears into real-life autopilot: apply heat with an iOpener. Unscrew the pentalobes on the bottom of the case. Pry open delicately with a spudger. Boom—I’m in! I disconnected a couple of ribbon cables and set the display aside. As I stared down at that familiar form factor, I was overwhelmed with a weird sense of nostalgia. I didn’t even realize it, but I was smiling.
My sudden change in attitude made my friends suspicious. They asked if I had just botched the repair. I chuckled and told them I hadn’t. I explained that I was genuinely enjoying myself—and that after a rough day, I would have never thought that repairing someone’s iPhone would spark so much joy.
With my newfound joy (and beer), I was able to swap the battery, port over the old home button, and install a new screen in about 30 minutes—a new personal best for me. I even removed one of the battery adhesive strips without breaking it (another first!). As I carefully removed and returned every bracket and connector, I grew calmer. With every turn of my screwdriver, I felt more and more like myself.
I write a lot about the benefits of repair. Yeah, it’s good for the environment + economy + your wallet, but it’s also good for the soul—chicken soup-style. Repair helps you focus on the present, giving your mind space from daily stressors. Not to mention it gives you a sense of victory and accomplishment—and that feeling of self-reliance does wonders for your confidence and mood. For me, repair has become restorative (or, at least, iPhone 6s repair has become restorative).
Everyone has bad days—and if I’m being totally honest, I’ve been having a lot of them lately 😬. I know I’m not alone. Thanks to Mental Health Awareness Month going mainstream on social media, I’ve read hundreds of stories about people’s bad days. Those stories finally gave me the courage to share one of mine. So the next time you’re having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, maybe pick up a screwdriver and try fixing something. If it cured my bad day, it just might cure yours, too. And if it does, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.