Copyright © 2015
by Ralph F. Couey
Doesn't matter how smart one is. Or how educated. Or incisive. Experience, wisdom, whatever else a person may have, it will never save us from that one stupid act.
Monday was a brutally hot and humid day here in Virginia. The temperature was in the mid-90's and with the humidity, the heat index was into triple digits. So after running a couple of errands, we decided to spend the balance of the afternoon in the neighborhood pool. We changed, slathered on some sunscreen, gathered a couple necessary items, and headed out in high anticipation of cool waters.
Once there, I put on my reef walkers, remembered to take my ID wallet out of my pocket, and walked into the water. It was, as anticipated, a glorious feeling. After stretching my legs, I started swimming some slow laps. My mind was happily empty of any worry or burden, and I had thus enjoyed myself for about 30 minutes and on one return lap, my vision fell on the table where we had placed our stuff. Suddenly my brain went on high alert. As I neared the wall, I reached for my waistband, and sure enough, my trustworthy, advanced, and very expensive Note 3 was hanging there.
With a feeling of deep foreboding, I held it up and pushed the button that normally would have activated the screen. Of course, it was dead. Now, I had bought a case from Otter that included a rubber-sealed component. But this was designed to protect the phone from a brief heavy rain, not an extended soak. I exited the pool, went to the table, and disassembled the device, removing as many pieces as I could. We left soon after and headed home where I placed the phone into a bag and covered it in rice. I removed the SD card and went to my desktop and plugged it into the card reader. Again, nothing. All those pictures, all those songs, all those movies...gone.
It was one of those moments when I knew something terrible had happened, and I had nothing or nobody to blame but myself. I left the phone in that bag of rice overnight and then in the morning, inserted a different battery and plugged the phone into a wall charger. I pressed the button and was rewarded by a short buzz, indicating that the phone had started to boot. I began to entertain some hope, but the phone not only refused to boot, but the case very quickly grew too hot to hold. I unplugged the cord, quickly opened the back and removed the battery before it actually burst into flame.
We went to the T-mobile store at the mall and the very helpful (and empathetic) guy reminded us that we had canceled the insurance, and actually had 6 more months of payments to make on my now dead phone. He then told us that in three days, the Note 5 would be released and he expected a significant price reduction on the Note 4. I work on Friday, so we will go Saturday.
Now, I have to go through smartphone withdrawal as I live the next four days without that powerful communications and research tool hanging on my belt. Serves me right.
Nobody goes through life without at least one of these kind of episodes. There's simply no accounting for the absolute brain failure that must occur in order for this to happen. Sometimes, it can be a failure of a speech filter, which allows something cruel, nasty, and regrettable to spill from the lips. Other times, it can be a behavior that presents us as a complete idiot, although to be fair, this can involve the over-indulgence of alcohol. But not always.
These are moments that will stay with us forever. We think we may have forgotten them, but sometimes in our weakest moments the memory of what we've done or said pops into our consciousness, causing a full-body cringe. Despite our best efforts to forget, those memories will forever be with us.
I have since raked myself over the coals rather thoroughly. Why didn't I just leave the thing at home? There was no reason to take it to the pool. Why didn't I remember that it was hanging there? I work in a space where phones are verboten, so I've gotten into the habit of physically checking my belt and pockets to ensure that I don't take them past the door. Why didn't I do that at the pool?
The answers to those questions will forever lie hidden in the neurological labyrinth that is the human brain. Of course, when I get my new phone, I will use this incident as a guide to keep such an unintended immersion from happening.
Will this moment keep me from doing other stupid things? Probably not. After all, I'm only human.