My Own Worst Enemy

Dear Reader,

Sometimes the most important things to us are also the most fragile. At least, this is the case for me and my iPhone. Have you ever been without your phone for a day or more due to damage or repair? If you are like me, during these periods you have probably realized the extent of your interaction and reliance on your device. I do not think smartphone dependence is inherently a bad thing. For example, without my iPhone, I would be walking around carrying a phone, camera, notebook, writing utensils, documents…maps, a newspaper, an encyclopedia, you get the picture. Smart phones are handy; I would much rather rely on one device for all of my needs than resort to consulting several sources. However, because we put so much faith into our handheld devices, the absence of our smartphones for any period of time can have drastic consequences.

There are moments in life, Dear Reader, that seize you with instant regret because the accident was so little, yet the effect so profound. For example, imagine you are telling a wild story and your vigorous gesticulations led your errant hand to knock over a glass of red wine onto your expensive, plush ivory-colored rug. You oaf! If only you would have kept your hands still! Instead, because of your clumsy mistake, the lighthearted mood has given way to a fiasco of scrambling hands hopelessly trying to dab out the carmine-colored demon that now possesses the carpet. Long story short – little slips can lead to big mistakes, that make you feel full of regret. This is how I was feeling when I went on a rainy stroll through the park with my innocent little iPhone.

While I am observing a loose self-quarantine, I have committed myself to leaving the house daily for some light exercise. So, to stick with my routine, I laced up my rainboots and took a walk with my large umbrella in hand in the early morning. Because I was feeling energized (despite the rain), I decided to take a lengthy detour through the park. While the extra time outside was welcome, I still kept up a brisk pace so I could arrive home with enough time to lounge around a bit before work. At one point while I was in the park, I decided to gallop and skip to get home just a teensy bit quicker. Spanish pop music was playing through my earbuds and I was amused by how fast that I could travel with this hopping motion incorporated into my gait. However, just a few skips later I heard a familiar crackle in my wireless earphones that alerted me to the fact that my phone was out of range. My heart sank….

I turned back abruptly but saw nothing. No phone, however, my blood went cold when I realized that my device must have been totally submerged in the long puddle that lined this section of the path. I felt manic, I was hunched down running and scanning the water as if I were a mother who discovered that her baby had slipped into a pool. Just a few paces back, I saw my phone lit up under the shallow water. I did not hear my phone drop, but I estimated that it was submerged for no less than fifteen seconds and no more than one minute. I immediately powered down the phone.

Unfortunately, I was at the farthest point away from home. While the park is familiar to me, I was irrationally perturbed by how many turns and hills I had to navigate along the way. With my phone secured in my pocket, I half walked/ half jogged home, muttering “no, no, no” at irregular intervals under my breath.

Eons later, I arrived and began to do some research into how to save a wet iPhone. To my surprise, I learned from a few different sites that the iPhone 8 and later are built to be water resistant, which means that they can withstand some water (including total submersion) for short periods of time. This note gave me hope, but I still followed the general protocol i.e. leaving my phone turned off, removing the SIM card, and letting it dry (note, apparently placing a wet iPhone in rice does not help it dry). Through my internet searches, I also learned that when an iPhone is damaged by water it will produce a red dot in the headphone or SIM card port depending on the model. While in the past I have seen the red dot of death, after about three hours of drying I was elated to see that all was in order, at least on the inside. Perhaps prematurely, I rebooted my phone (the recommendation is to let it dry for 24 – 48 hours). To my profound relief the iPhone went from black to color without fanfare—everything was in order.

My experience here today reminds me that valuables should be treated like objects of value. Carelessness is a form of negligence, and makes us our own worst enemies. I did not give enough attention to my iPhone and left my pocket unzipped for it to fall out. Because phones are so familiar to us, we can forget how essential they are to our lives. I know that it sounds materialistic and weird to say all of this about an inanimate object, but the sheer terror I felt when I discovered that the phone was underwater and the anxiety that I felt when I feared that it may never turn on again, only reaffirms to me that a cell phone is an item of value.

I am lucky to get another chance with my little phone. I am writing this in the midst of the pandemic, which makes a trip to the Apple Store a total impossibility. So, Dear Reader, I hope you can learn from my mistakes today and take a little extra time to take care of the things (and people 😉 ) that matter most to you.



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