And Then, My Hand Was Down the Toilet

When teaching I always keep my phone in my back pocket when my outfit has a pocket.  The phone is always on silent, and by no means do I check it when I feel it vibrate, but I have found it very useful in teaching.

Back in 1993 when I first taught, if the students and I had a question, I literally had to go to an encyclopedia or a map to discover an elusive answer.  Not so anymore! One group of students was reading a book about baseball legend Jackie Robinson and wanted to know when he’d died. Boom. I pulled up information on Mr. Robinson and we had our question answered almost immediately.  There were many times throughout my recent teaching stint that my phone in my back pocket was amazingly helpful.

So keeping it in my back pocket was a great idea, right?  Well, it was until right before school one morning as I made my last minute stop in the restroom.  Any teacher will tell you, especially elementary teachers, getting to the restroom when one can is c-r-i-t-i-c-a-l to a successful day in education.  Please hear me when I say I’d been religious, absolutely religious about removing my phone from my back pocket when using the restroom at school.

Until then.

I whipped into the stall and before I could conduct any business I heard the sickening plop as my phone slipped out of my back pocket and into the toilet.

I’ll admit it. I’d always made fun of “those” people.  How could you forget your phone was in your back pocket?  Why would you ever reach your hand down into any toilet, let alone a public toilet?  Who could be so careless with something so expensive?

Well, the answer to those questions is me!  And as I realized what had just happened, I didn’t even hesitate to reach my hand down into the toilet to retrieve my soaked phone.  And without being too detailed, I was more than grateful I hadn’t conducted “business” in that stall.

Uggggh.  What to do?  Let’s just say tons of Clorox wipes were involved with multiple, multiple hand washings, but then I had a problem.  It was five minutes until the children entered the building. My allegiance is to them. Always. So I propped the phone encased in paper towels up on a stool in front of the heater at the back of my classroom.  I quickly called my husband (on my classroom phone) to ask him to please text our children, my mother, and my best friend about my unfortunate morning incident. (As a side note, I have seen the responses to his informational text.  The two youngest people did not see the gravity or severity of the situation. In fact, one might even say the teenagers mocked me, but that’s another story.)

I gave the people (my third graders) my best and sheepishly answered questions about why my phone was propped up against the heater.  Thankfully, eight and nine year olds are much more sympathetic than sixteen and eighteen year olds! A few hours later after depositing the children at the library, I hightailed it around that school to see if any of my colleagues possessed rice.  Naturally, in an elementary school, I found some and Clorox wiped my phone again and waited. I waited and waited and waited.

While numerous numerous people told me how a bag of rice had saved them and their phone, rice did not save mine.  The screen, to this day, has never shown up again. And not being the most tech savvy regarding backing up important information, I lost valuable and meaningful pictures, videos, and personal notes.  Uggggh again.

I had a choice. I could act like my phone falling in the toilet was a really horrible situation, or I could put it all in perspective.  I chose the latter. It was almost akin to my pet dying as people offered me their condolences. I’d reply, “Thank you. It’s just a phone.  It can be replaced. It’s my own fault.”

Much to my frugal husband’s chagrin, I did receive a Christmas present in 2018, and of course, it was a new phone.  

I was reminded, albeit humorously, things are just things.  Not everything in life can be fixed. Never judge how someone is handling a situation. You see, just a mere twenty-four hours later, you too could have your hand down a public toilet!  Sometimes life isn’t as black and white as we pretend it is, especially when we aren’t the ones living that life. And now, much to my teenagers’ embarrassment, I literally carry around a gigantic Ziploc bag of rice in my vehicle which reads, “DON’T EAT!”  My phone fell in the toilet once; if there’s a next time, I will be prepared!

Until next Wednesday, Lord willing.   

cell phone