Phone Panic

I remember a time when making a phone call took a dime and a search for a phone booth. But now, the convenience of having a phone, address book, email, internet, camera, calendar, photo album, stopwatch, clock, flashlight, and all the information that makes up your entire world in your hands has made us dependent on our phones. I know I am.

If my phone isn’t right at my fingertips, I panic, running all over to retrace my steps to find it. I often think if they invented some way for it to be physically connected to me, I’d be the first to sign up. And the incident that solidifies the importance of our phones is its demise.

I’ll admit. I’m hard on phones. There was the time I dropped one on the ground and a little tiny insignificant pebble broke the screen glass like a fantastic web that I couldn’t see through. That’s when I got a protector case and glass for the next phone.

The time it was in the sun too long and the LED screen went out, I lost all my contacts for the prior two years, all my memos and texts. From then on, I put in some backup systems.  

Each time I learned something to prevent the problem in the future or make it easier. And it was working, I was on four years with this phone.

But one day at my office, my phone was in my pocket when I went to the bathroom. Without getting graphic, let’s just say it slipped out of my pocket and into the toilet bowl just as it was flushing down.

All I heard was a plop sound, then I panicked, turned and looked down.

“Noooo,” I yelled and grabbed it out of the water quickly, as if saving a drowning person.

I ran to the sink and quickly pulled out the paper towels and dried it off. Then I held my breath and looked at the screen.

It was black.

Like a crazy person, I yelled no, no, no and pushed every button on the screen to get any signs of life, like an emergency room doctor employing defibrillator paddles to resurrect. I turned it on and off a bunch of times. Nothing.

By this time, a couple ladies in the restroom came to my aid with advice.

“Put it in rice,” one said.

“Use the hand blow dryer,” another offered.

“Take out the battery,” a third added.

Since I was at work, I didn’t have any rice, so I ran to the IT person’s desk and begged for help, as if I was asking Zeus to take pity on me and bring it back to life.

After she stopped snickering at the phone’s drowning, she took the battery out and gave me back the lifeless components. She liked the hand dryer idea, so I ran back to the bathroom to dry it out.

As I stood there switching my all too warm hands back and forth, I wracked my memory for the last time it backed up and then despaired at all the data on the phone I couldn’t do without.

I’m going to lose all my pictures and videos.

If I lose my contacts, I don’t know anyone’s phone numbers.

There was information on my texts that I needed. Many of my younger clients used it exclusively.

My memos and all my reminders and what about my appointments? I won’t know where to go or when?

That phone was my lifeline. I couldn’t live without it.

After standing there for a half hour, drying the phone and nearly scalding my hands, I took it back to the IT lady.

She put the battery back in as I stood there breathlessly wishing and watching as she performed some magical surgery on the buttons.

When I saw the look on her face, I knew the truth. The phone was dead.

“You can try some rice when you get home, but that’s a few hours away, so it may be too late,” she said.

I thanked her and took the phone back to my office, slowly and sadly, walking the last mile.

I knew I had to go to the phone place after work and replace it, hoping my backup app worked.

My work email was also on my computer and I optimistically reasoned that anyone important would call me on my landline, if it was urgent.

After work, I drove directly to the cell phone place and waited and waited and waited. Finally. I told my embarrassing tale to the guy. I could tell he was holding back laughter, as he asked me.

“Did you back up your data on the app?”

I looked down and shrugged my shoulders. “I hope so.”

For an hour, he diligently worked on his computer to retrieve my data and put it into a new phone as I sat there nearly numb from fear at what his prognosis would be.

“Well, I was able to retrieve the contacts that backed up to the app and your calendar, photos and videos were backed up to Google, so they are there,” he said and handed me the new phone with a matter-of-fact grimness.

He wasn’t saying it. My texts and memos were gone. They either can’t or didn’t back up. I was so despondent at the point, I don’t even know what he said.

The phone insurance protection money I paid monthly for the last four years covered most of the cost, with a $100 deductible, and I left. When I did the sum in my head, I realized the $500 I paid for the insurance over the past few years only saved me $100, but at least I got it back. I felt a little better.

But I was still upset about the lost data and what a hassle it was going to be to reload all my apps on the phone. That’s if I remember the passwords and usernames and which apps I had.

I dreaded the next few days of mourning and reconstructing the information lost without knowing how I was going to do it. But I needed to move on.

I guess next time I’ll make sure my backups are full proof and definitely take my phone out of my pocket when I enter the bathroom.

© Suzanne Rudd Hamilton, 2022

Published by suzanneruddhamilton

I write anything from novels and children's books to plays to relate and retell everyday life experiences in a fun-filled read with heart, hope and humor. A former journalist and real estate marketing expert, I am a transplant from Chicago, now happily living in southwest Florida to keep warm and sunny all year round. You can find me at

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