Shit Happens

May 02

Woman_Screaming_DreamstimeDROP PHONE IN TOILET

This was not at the top of my To Do List.

But shit happens. Sometimes all too literally. So what’s a girl to do?

First, you scream at the toilet. Which, I know you’re wondering about, but will now have entirely TMI, was not empty.

Then, number two, you should pardon the expression, you dig down deep, not just into the bowl but into your soul.

You always wondered how you would react if something like this happened—the whole grace under pressure thing. Now you know. But perhaps some things, and this surely is one of them, are better off not known.

Quick! This is no time for philosophizing! Do something! But what???

Wait a moment! Wait a minute! What about. . . rice? Didn’t I hear something about rice?

Yes! Yes! It was on that first episode of Elementary! Sherlock solved a case by figuring out that the bad guy was drying out the phone he had inadvertently put into the washing machine—by sealing it in a big bag of . . . RICE!

But I had no rice. Gave that up in a hopeless attempt to cut back on white carbs. Thought I had some brown rice, but couldn’t find it. Was that bad for me too? Quinoa won’t work, will it? Noodles? Pasta?

Now I’m panicking . . .

Fortunato! Use what’s left of your head. Go on line and ask the musical question:

“What should I do if I drop my phone in the toilet?”

And look! There are answers! Lots of them! Which one do I read? The first one, always the first one.

It said that wiping off the phone with a towel was correct (duh), but that using a hairdryer was BUZZER! Wrong, wrong, WRONG!

What I should do is . . . guess what . . . put the phone in rice. The thing is, the rice is supposed to absorb the moisture. But all the different sites (and there are a shitload of them) give slightly different advice.

Use rice, but it can’t be processed.
It doesn’t matter, just use rice.
Put it in a closed container.
Don’t close the container.
Use Tupperware.
Use a baggie.
Use anything, just do it already.

Keep it in overnight.
Keep it in for 24 hours.
Keep it in for 48 hours.
Keep it in for a week.
Keep it in for the rest of your life. It’s over for you now, anyway, so what’s the difference?

This video on YouTube says to leave for at least a week! Have patience, it says (Moi, patience?), and if that doesn’t work, you’re screwed. Really, YouTube Video Guy? Ya think? When did you get the first clue?

Meanwhile, I still didn’t have any rice, so I sent the doorman out to get some (unprocessed, just to be sure) while I got on the phone with Apple Care.The Apple guy was nice.They always are. And guess what he suggested? Yes, Virginia. Rice. He said to put my soggy iPhone in a baggy and hope for the best. But make an appointment at the Apple Store.

The Rice-a-Phoni Theory

There is no end to the info on the internet about the rice technique.

One video was from India, with really annoying background music, and every other word the guy basically said was “basically.” One thing he basically insisted on was to basically remove the battery.

Another video—an hour long!—explained how to do that. It involves using 2 types of Phillips screwdriver, alcohol, a razor blade, a gadget called a spunger, some kind of knife, a suction cup and various other instruments of dissection, and literally taking the phone apart like a watch, which the nice Apple guy said I couldn’t do. I had taken that to mean that I personally couldn’t do it (and the guy doesn’t even know me), but after this video, I think he meant that no one in their right mind should even attempt it. I watched for about 10 minutes before breaking out in hives.

There are hundreds of thousands of views on these videos (one has 1,600,000 hits and counting!), so I am not the only one to have that horrible moment (picture it in slo-mo and weep) when the phone slips out of your hand and into . . . water of some sort.

There are also products made for this very predicament. One is called a Bheestie Bag and seems like a more sophisticated version of rice in a baggie. You can also get silica packets, which work better than/as good as (depends on who you ask) the rice. Pack Rats Alert: those packets you saved from vitamin bottles or shoe boxes may now have an actual use.

But basically, it all boils down to rice.

I don’t remember if it worked for the guy on Elementary, but he was guilty anyway. I am guilty only of criminal carelessness, and don’t feel I deserve the death penalty (existing without a smart phone) just for that.

But look on the bright side: Since the rice didn’t work, I used this incident as an excuse to get a new phone. Okay, it would cost a few bucks. But in a related and highly ironic development, Apple stock, of which I bought a little many years ago when it was in the toilet, has split many times, and just today went went through the roof again. (I could sell a few shares and get another iPhone.)

Besides, even though I did wash off the phone before toweling it, it was in the toilet, however briefly, and will the rice get rid of that? Even if the phone functions, will I want the thing in my hands again?

Whatever happens, I have learned yet another crucial life lesson:
Never drop your phone in the toilet.

A piece of advice that gives new meaning to the expression,
“No shit, Sherlock.”

This post is a rerun. The rice didn’t work then, and, according to the Geniuses (the preferred plural, in case anyone cares, is actually Genii) at the Genius Bar at Apple, it won’t work now. But they will replace your poor departed iPhone with the same model at cost, so I became the proud owner of a new phone, one which will never see the inside of a bathroom. If you need to reach me, leave a message.


  1. Louis Venezia /

    Fun article!
    Perhaps the more probing and poignant question is “Why use your phone when sitting on the can?” LOLOL

    I heard that cat litter also works in situations where one drowns one’s iPhone in a toilet bowl. That choice does seem to be more appropriate :-).

    • Pat /

      Litter Schmitter, go directly to the Apple store, pay your money and get a new phone.
      Glad you enjoyed the blog!

  2. Good post, now I’m anxious about my next trip to the bathroom.
    Really the best solution might solve other related problems. We need to stop packing so much of our lives into these eavesdropping cameras that might be a phone.
    Put down the smart-camera-not-real-phone.

    “sent the doorman out” – My knowledge of the doorman job is based on movies. Have you written about doorman career choice? Is there a big turnover on those positions? Will AI replace the doorman? Can you find a doorman that does sit all day and play on his smart-camera-not-real-phone?

    Do you enjoy questions in the comment section?

    • Pat /

      I love my doormen! And yes, I should do something about them, although I have nothing funny to report other than the phone fiasco.
      And yes, we are WAY too dependent on our phones, and YES, I love comments of all kinds, including questions, don’t you?
      My readers should know that you have a blog too and many would enjoy it.

      • I love comments. They are the best part of blogging. I mean real comments. Not the spam posing as a comment.

        • Pat /

          Couldn’t agree more! When I switched platforms I lost a lot of comments and that was a bummer. I get a lot of spam these days which is just a nuisance, but love the real comments.

  3. Lucille C /

    This is so funny, and so true. We are all so dependent on our phones that if we lose one, or god forbid, drop it into water, we are up shit’s creek.
    Glad your story had a happy ending.

    • Pat /

      I had forgotten all about this, and the other day my phone slipped out of my back pocket to the floor of the bathroom. Too close for comfort. I have to remember my original rule: the phone goes nowhere near that room.
      And yes, we are all too dependent on the little dears, but what can we do?

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