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Death of a Cellphone becomes a recurring tale

It's about 10 minutes into the drying cycle when I hear the dreadful sound of good money being tossed after bad. The rhythmic racket came from modern technology bouncing off the rotating, stainless steel dryer drum.

Death of a Cellphone — Part VI.

Likely cause of death: drowning in the wash cycle, with evidence of post-mortem trauma that likely occurred when the phone was purged from the working man's pants pocket during the drying cycle.

Not only is the thing soaked, the screen's cracked, too.

Lovely.

So here's where I slap myself in the forehead for not going through the old man's pockets, something he neglected to do before tossing his pants in the hamper, breaking a house rule laid down after we pulled the second drenched phone in a week's time from our front-loader.

That's right, two phones washed in a week's time.

And I suppose I should have followed the advice of others who told us to pony up for the replacement insurance — especially since this last phone was "free," save for the two-year contract extension and the $35 activation fee, plus tax and shipping.

Thankfully our latest casualty is not an expensive model. Not smart at all. No bells and whistles. It's just your basic flipphone that's lousy for texting, suitable for talking and maybe taking a grainy picture of yourselves at the beach to send to friends up north who text back wanting to know, "Why are you sending me blurry pictures of the Loch Ness Monster?"

Indeed, the main benefits of this model are the big numbers on the keyboard that can be more easily read by the old man's failing eyes.

But money is money and there's this thing I have about giving it one last shot. So I'm left to try my luck at cellphone triage. I know the drill. Don't even have to get on the Internet for instructions this time. Take the battery out. Smother the thing in a bowl of rice. Then wait for it to dry — maybe a day or two. Then snap it back together and turn it on — fingers crossed.

Simple fix if it works. But in that timespan there could be some unforeseen emergency and all hell could break loose.

Oh my. How to survive?

It's a fair question for those who find themselves tethered to mobile devices that make it a cinch to make a call when in need or on a whim.

No doubt it's handy for that roadside emergency or when you're wanting the old man to pick up some necessary sundry on his way home. And it sure helps ease a parent's mind when your newly licensed teenager heads out on the road.

"Text me when you get there," is a common command in our house.

Even so, the accessibility of the cell has its drawbacks. Just ask anyone who's been on either end of a late-night drunk dial.

Awkward.

And addicting, as evidenced by throngs of pedestrians texting, surfing the Internet or carrying on conversations while sauntering down the street or through store parking lots. There's the faceless driver you would be best to get in front of, who's pushing buttons while splitting lanes on the highway. And the not-so-nice woman I recently encountered in the checkout line who halted her conversation for a brief moment to tersely announce, "I'm on the phone!" when the sales clerk tried to point out a flaw in an item she was about to purchase.

I grew up in the days of having to hike to the nearest pay phone when your car broke down or your bicycle got a flat during that 5-mile trek to the beach. But now I have to admit to a feeling of vulnerability when I'm out without my cell, sort of like putting the car in gear without fastening your seat belt first.

Yes, it's come to that.

I don't have much hope as I push the "on" button on the flipphone after plucking it from the bowl of rice and reassembling it close to 24 hours later. But to my surprise, there are signs of life this time around and the familiar whooshing sound as the phone starts up. It's a short-lived resurrection though, with an intermittent flashing of light across the cracked screen that is eerily reminiscent of one of those scary movies where a poltergeist takes over the household appliances.

The cellphone is surely possessed, I'm thinking as I shut the thing off and get to surfing the Internet in search of a replacement.

And so are we.

Michele Miller can be reached at miller@tampabay.com or at (813) 435-7307.

Death of a Cellphone becomes a recurring tale 01/04/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 4, 2013 5:58pm]

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