I Discovered My iPhone Clock Was 3 Minutes Fast, and an Existential Crisis Ensued

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

In this thing called life, there are some light-bulb moments that appear out of nowhere and knock you over the head like a dump truck of particularly potent ayahuasca. Examples: finding the Santa costume stashed in your dad’s dresser, realizing the cast of Saved by the Bell was actually comprised of people in their mid-20s, finding out Bruce Willis was dead the whole time. But all of these mind-shattering, reality-wrenching revelations pale in comparison to what I’ve been going through for the past two weeks and 180 seconds. 

I've come to realize that, for some time now, I've been living three minutes in the future.

Ever since I got my first cell phone, I've trusted its clock as an infallible source of temporal reference, the only timepiece I assuredly knew would and could deliver an exact reading -- no matter what. It adjusts for daylight savings. It adjusts when I travel in different time zones. It's always been on the ball. Until now.

What happens when the most reliable thing in your life is suddenly exposed to be just as frail and fickle as everything else around you? You lose your shit, that's what. 

It all started when I noticed I was showing up early for things -- something I am not necessarily against, but hardly known for. Dentist appointments, office meetings, fist fights arranged via Tinder... I thought I was just growing into a more mature and sensible human adult. Nope.

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

“Um, no Jerry -- it is 5:56, not 5:53. You are wrong on this, as you are on most things," I told my friend Jerry with utmost confidence, at lunch on one fateful autumn day not long ago.

Jerry (whose name has been changed for his protection) pulled out his own iPhone and sneered, “No, dude, I think your iPhone clock is fast. Isn’t that weird?!”

It was more than just weird. I was floored. The walls of the taqueria started melting like that trippy Salvador Dali painting and I felt my knees go weak. I don’t remember the rest of the day, but I do remember throwing up tostadas in my filing cabinet and just now realized that I never cleaned it up.

What happens when the most reliable thing in your life is suddenly exposed to be just as frail and fickle as everything else around you?

You may think that’s a little dramatic, but I felt betrayed. I trusted that iPhone clock with every fiber of my upcoming agenda. I followed it blindly, unquestionably. The numbers flickering across the top of its sapphire-glass touchscreen were my rock, something to believe in -- like time itself. And if I'd totally hinged my personal space-time being to those digital hands, then perhaps I too had been pulled into the future with it. And what if it continues to accelerate? Was I doomed to be lost in time forever, a prisoner trapped behind the bars of a fourth dimension? That's when I threw up the tostadas.

Oh, and also -- let me just put this out there: how the fuck does a clock that is eternally linked to a satellite lose track of time? My iPhone can rattle off Devonta Freeman’s fantasy football scores in a sassy fembot voice, list the planes that are flying above my head right now, by flight number, then literally play any movie that was ever released in the history of the world, but it just loses three minutes along the way somehow? What the actual fuck?

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

A few days later, my worst fears were realized. It was accelerating. I was up to four minutes in the future.

Things were getting serious and I had to consider some alternative time-telling methods. Wearing a watch didn’t work (I stick my hand wrist-deep in jars of peanut butter a lot). Pocket watches were a no-go (what do I look like, a train conductor? A Monopoly Man impersonator? I don't do that sort of thing anymore.). Staring up at the clock on the wall just made my neck hurt.

The worst part of my existential crisis was how alone I felt. Google turned up approximately zero answers. Like a flare in the night I posted my dilemma to a Yahoo Answers board. Crickets. My coworkers appreciated me showing up early for meetings, but discarded my claims. My girlfriend wouldn’t listen, and just made me make her a sandwich. My parents had me escorted out by the police, probably because I’m not allowed to be in their house, but they also didn’t care about the clock thing, I think. 

I had no idea what to do. So, I did what anyone would do in a moment of existential agony and self-doubt. I called the Apple Store.

My iPhone can list the planes that are flying above my head right now, by flight number... but it just loses three minutes along the way? What the actual f*ck?

“Um... I've never heard of this before. Like, ever,” said a shell-shocked but still quite pleasant Apple rep, after I leaped through the gauntlet of automated hoops and got a real live human on the line. It was 2:41pm. So, actually -- 2:37pm. Shit.

“Yeah, it’s weird, right?”

“Yeah, really weird.”

“I’ve been early to like, everything lately.”

“Huh, OK -- I mean, do you want to try to fix it?”


“Yes, OK -- well I’m not sure if this is going to work, but what you can maybe try is resetting your system. But if you do that, you might want to make sure you've backed up...”

Her (probably useful, always very pleasant) words garbled into my ear but didn’t stick, and my mind drifted to its own thoughts. Did I even want to fix this clock? Or the better question, did it even matter if I did or not? Knowing that my chronological glacier had basically melted, how could I ever bring order to chaos, how could I restore my faith in the world around me?

Thrillist/Cole Saladino


Two weeks later I've descended into complete and total isolation, living my life four minutes ahead of the rest of you. But I’m still here. And incredibly punctual. And as I sit in front of my phone, debating the system reset that may or may not spin my orbit back into sync, my face all twisted and scrunchy like Bruce Willis in every movie he makes, my finger pauses over the button. And I stop to think.

Even if I can get my iPhone clock back to normal, will my life ever be the same?

[Update: So, I installed the new iOS on my phone and its all back to normal. Thanks everyone! I’m feeling much better. Please disregard paragraphs one, seven, eight, and nine. And everything I said about my girlfriend, parents, and Bruce Willis.]

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Wil Fulton is a staff writer for Thrillist. Right now it's 11:29, everywhere. Follow him: @wilfulton.