Dropped my phone in the toilet…Oh, oh!…Stuff happens…

Colorful shrine in front of a private villa in our area.

We were getting ready to go out. I’d put my Windows smartphone in the back pocket of my jean shorts. As we often do before we head out in many countries, us old-timers make sure we’ve “checked the tire pressure” (peed) before we leave the house.

Both of us guzzle iced tea all day, especially in hot climates. With two cups of coffee and a mug of iced tea before heading out the door and, with the state of toilets in public areas often being set flush (no pun intended) into the floor, requiring some serious crouching, which I can hardly do at this time, I’d made sure to go “potty” before leaving the house.

As I stood after doing my thing, my orange Windows Blu smartphone dropped into the toilet bowl.  As quickly as I could fish it out, the power had shut off and I knew I had a problem.

Papaya, commonly found in many tropical climates.

It’s not as if we can stop at Costco or a phone store to purchase another unlocked smartphone here in Phuket. We’d pay an outrageous price if we could find a current model and most likely the charger and settings would be geared to this part of the world.

If we don’t use our phones for calls without a local SIM card, what do we use them for? Actually, quite a bit, not unlike many users from all over the world;  reading news, reading books, searching online, playing games, making grocery and other lists and taking photos when a camera isn’t handy. 

Most days when I need to recharge my laptop and I’m hungry for some sort of mental stimulation, I use my phone. With a lack of extension cords and outlets here and in most vacation homes, in most cases we have to set our equipment close to an outlet for it to charge at least a few times each day.

Another papaya tree.

Its during these charging periods when I can’t get close enough to the laptop to use it (it’s the same case for Tom as well) so instead I use my phone. At night, I read myself to sleep and if during the night I’m awakened, I read. 

Sure, it’s probably not good “sleep hygiene” to read in the middle of the night but honestly, it works for me. Besides, I consider bathing and washing to being “hygienic” not sleep. Tom often reads his phone during the night as well.

My first worry during those two seconds my phone was at the bottom of the toilet bowl was, “How will I sleep without my phone?” My next worry was some notes I’d made on the phone and hadn’t backed up lately, notes about travel and miscellaneous. Lesson learned.

Colorful plumeria flowers.

After I’d pulled my phone from the toilet bowl, I used an antibacterial wipe we keep handy for such occasions, took the cover off the phone and began carefully drying every part inside and out with a dry paper towel.

Recently, I’d read that if a phone is dropped in water, don’t use a hair dryer or any type of heating or blowing tool to dry it off. We’d all heard the stories about plain uncooked white rice being the “go to” on such occasions.

Since we were on our way to grocery shop, and my grocery list was on my now dead phone, I made a mental note to remember to buy rice at the market. As for the remainder of the grocery list, between us we remembered every single item since we’d already planned our upcoming week’s meals in advance.

From the car, we spotted this white shrine in front of a house.

Oddly, once we began shopping we couldn’t a small package of rice, like one would find in the US, a little box of Uncle Ben’s converted rice or a small plastic bag containing white rice. Nope, no such thing in Phuket. The smallest size available was 5 kg, 11 pound bags of Thai rice. 

What we’d do with 11 pounds of rice was baffling. But at a cost US $2.43, THB 84, it was worth buying, even though I had little hope it would work. In the interim, I’d taken the SIM card, data card and battery out of the phone leaving it open in the bedroom which had the least humidity of any room in the house.

Of course, once back at the villa, I couldn’t resist trying to turn it on. After putting everything back together, it failed miserably, a flash of light on the opening screen but nothing else. Nada. Done.  Kaput.

We’d seen these huge palm frond trees in Belize in early 2013.

Using a stainless steel bowl we filled it to the top with the uncooked white rice, placing the phone and battery in the uncooked rice ensuring every interior area was well covered. Now the waiting game.

I may be a relatively patient person in many circumstance but when it comes to technology, I’m a beast, unable to wait to attempt a fix. The online recommendations for this method all stated to wait 24 hours before attempting to turn it back on. That was hard for me. I have no self control. 

After dinner, I removed the phone from the bowl of rice, shook out all the grains, reinstalled the card and battery and gave it a try. At this point, the tiles  for my apps on the home screen made a short appearance, although the date appeared as November, 2011. Momentarily, they were gone as the phone shut itself off. Patience. I needed patience. 

Tom can get “overly grumpy” with me in cases such as this insisting I wait per the instructions for a remedy. Then again, he’s not always the most patient guy on the planet for which I reminded him.  Through this entire process I made every effort to stay calm and hopeful, not necessarily my usual “overly bubbly” self but a close optimistic second.

We weren’t familiar with these red flowers.  Comments?

The night was fitful and restless. I awoke numerous times, longing to read my phone. Morning couldn’t come quickly enough. Finally, I drifted off awakening at 6:00 am ready to check it out. It hadn’t been anywhere near 24 hours but in the air conditioned room with a lack of humidity, maybe I’d be in luck.

Again putting it back together, I held my breath as I turned it back on. Would it be working again?  Or, would it have a number of features that wouldn’t be working which could set me into a tailspin, perpetually trying to fix the issues. I’m relentless.

Alas, after what appeared to be a “sputtery” start (again no pun intended), the colorful tiles on my home screen popped up. After several minutes of trying each app, checking the date and time, reviewing my last and current batch of email messages, it was fully functional. Yippee. How’d I get so lucky?

I was relieved that the white rice solution did indeed work on my Windows phone although, it doesn’t work on every brand of smartphone, I settled back into my easy routine of using my laptop and then my phone, alternating during the day as needed to keep me entertained and amused.

May this little story and your day keep you entertained and amused!

Photo from one year ago today, August 20, 2015:

Parasitic plants growing on trees is a fascinating way nature provides for a plant that must “borrow” nutrients from thriving trees of many varieties.  For more details, please click here.