Toilet phone

My iPhone took a dive into the toilet at our B&B in Colonia, Uruguay last week. Sadly, ours is a world in which this type of thing happens with alarming frequency, as it seems we can no longer enjoy even the throne in disconnected solitude. Just tell the techie at the Apple store that your phone “got wet” and he’ll say, “Please tell me the toilet was clean.”

With a little advance planning, you too can avoid dropping your iPhone in the toilet.

With advance planning, you can avoid dropping your iPhone in the toilet.

In true Game of Phones style, the toilet was not clean. It was a pee toilet. I immediately rescued my pee phone, removed it from its pee case and patted the pee dry. I returned to bed (why, oh why had I taken my phone to the toilet at dawn? To check the time and to see whether I had any new likes for my Facebook post, of course) and obsessed about how I was going to find the rice that’s necessary to properly dry out a wet phone. I rehearsed the conversation in Spanish:

Me: “Buenos dias, senor. Tengo una pregunta. Tiene arroz?”

Senor: “Arroz?”

Me: “Si, arroz. Mi telefono estaba en el bano? En la agua? Necessito arroz para secar el telefono.”

Senor: Blank stare at the crazy lady.

He found some rice, bless him, and dumped it onto my phone inside a ziploc baggie. And this was all before 7:30 a.m. The prognosis was looking good, so long as the urine didn’t fry the circuitry or something.

When I got back to the room it was my husband who was looking at me like I was a crazy lady. Not only had I dropped the phone in the toilet, the device contained all the images from the trip — beautiful pictures of Mendoza wineries and colonial buildings in Uruguay — and I wasn’t on the iCloud! The pictures weren’t backed up, my contacts weren’t backed up, so my very existence was pretty much in the toilet, too.

There was naught to do but begin the long journey back to Canada, via ferry to Buenos Aires, bus to the EZE airport, and planes to Santiago, Toronto and Calgary, where I hoped by then the rice would have saved my phone. Yes, my phone is mostly functional again (the rice works, people!), but I’m using it a lot less. Three days without a phone was actually awesome and liberating, and I wanted to share what I learned.

Don’t bring your phone to the toilet

This is obvious, right? And yet, everyone does it. It’s like, we’re all scanning our news on a mobile app so when nature calls, we bring the phone to continue reading. I know a lot of people whose phones ended up in the toilet or on the floor next to the toilet because of this bad habit. Plus, it’s unsanitary — think of the germs! So don’t bring any device near the bathroom. Instead, use that time to think deep thoughts.

Back up your devices

My first thought as the touch screen began to slow down during the patting dry process was, “My photos! F*#K!” All those great images of the kids on spring break and me dressed up like a gaucho in the Andes: fading fast. I made a vow to activate iCloud for my phone and computer back in Canada, and to regularly download images from my phone to the computer (the idea of everything floating somewhere in the ether is a bit too airy for my liking).

Make a habit of turning off your phone at home

There’s a lot of talk about “being present” in your life, with your spouse and children. Let me tell you, nothing yanks you back to reality quite like not having a phone. With no portable connection to social media, you actually become more social with the people you live with. Imagine! This is a great thing. I found I listened to my kids without any mental distraction. In the mornings, I enjoyed my coffee with my thoughts, or read a chapter in my book. It was like an experiment for the slow technology movement: “Let’s not check our email or know what’s happening in the world until we get to work. Let’s see if that brings more balance to life!”

Maybe we don’t all really need smart phones

This thought ran through my head at the Apple store, after the techie refused to look at my “biohazard” (his word) toilet phone, and then tried to up-sell me on a newer, bigger, higher-memory iPhone. I thought about what I use it for: mainly, taking pictures, texting, reading news and occasionally social media. Apart from texting, I can do the other three using a camera and my laptop, which I would never bring to the toilet with me. I rarely ever use my phone as a phone since we still have a land line (quaint, I know). So why would I spend $800 on the fancy iPhone 6S plus model when I could just go ghetto with my old iPhone 4 and use it to text until my contract is up?

We all seem to think we can’t live without our phones. But we can, and in a lot of ways, the living is better.

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