The Time I Flushed My New iPhone Down the Toilet
Here's an old post from 2011-11-21 I thought I'd save from Google+. It is just two years old and already my G+ history has forgotten it--thankfully Google's normal search could find it.
George and I got some great footage of the Skritter iOS app in action yesterday for our teaser video. I Skrittered on buses, bridges, balconies, and a pillowcase. It's a good thing we finished shooting, because last night I flushed my month-old iPhone 4S down the toilet. Siri must have finally had enough of me asking her to tell me a story, or what's the inverse cosine of the arctangent of the square root of x from -1 to 1, or to remind me thirty times of my meeting with George in one minute. She just dove out of my loose 唐装 pocket at the moment of peak flush velocity. Slurp! It was a beautiful performance which my clutching hands could not follow.
So after calmly announcing to my boardgamemates that I'd just lost $600, sticking my arm up there, and being advised that "it's gone, man", I finished the game, eventually being punched out by an aging professor despite being invisible and having the revolver. Then I went straightaway to tell the internet about the hilarious loss. Just for fun, I decide to check iCloud's Find My iPhone feature. Well, what's this? Located 1 minute ago and still in the house? The phone clings to the plumbing, still alive! Quick, tell it to play a sound and display a message: "I'm drowning!"
Listening to the phone's desperate chimes for help, I located it to the back bend of the toilet trap and enlisted the small-wristed girls in the house to go toilet noodling. "You probably won't get your hand stuck in there. No, it's not dirty at all. It could be just a little further, so reach harder. Yeah, but your wrist is smaller than hers." My exploitative exhortations came to naught.
At this point, we realized that we were going to have to take the toilet off to get the phone out, since it was blocking the toilet. This would make a mess of grossness, require purchase of a new wax ring, and raise the landlord's dudgeon. We tried for a couple hours to fish it out using coat hangers, suction cups, pliers, chopsticks, further wringing of our joints, mirrors, measuring cups, more coat hangers, and wishful thinking, but there was nothing doing. I even got my 1" and 2" neodymium sphere magnets out and tried both socking them up to the phone and rubbing the big one on the outside of the trap, but the phone was wedged in there far too tightly (and the big magnet couldn't fit inside). At 11PM, long after the phone had stopped chirping from my Find My iPhone pleas, and after Siri's irreparable brain damage was assured, we faced reality with our unhappy faces and gave up, resigning ourselves to toilet removal tragedy on the morrow.
Actually, that's the way the story would have ended if I ever listened to the world telling me I couldn't do something. Everyone went to bed, but I still Had An Idea. (Chloe knowingly shook her head and said she'd see me in the morning.) After disassembly of my lifelogging hat to ready my Looxcie camera for an aqueous mission, I produced the attached reconnaissance footage (lighting courtesy of my blindingly legal green laser).
There! That's the phone, wedged in there backwards beyond the bend. I spare you the brilliance of my next two hours of rescue plans involving more coat hangers, iPhone USB cables, tiny magnets, tiny scissors, and Bluetooth video feeds.
On the sixth try, the why-didn't-I-think-of-this-before obvious approach of using the 2" sphere magnet on the outside of the trap to guide a 1/16" Allen wrench down, up, over, around, and past the phone, and then pulling really, really hard on the twine to which the Allen wrench was tied, taped, and twist-tied--succeeded! Scrape-pop-clank-clatter-splash and out comes the iPhone. I wisely decided to let the phone sit there in the remaining water while I made a recording describing my heroic use of magnets. Now the phone is encoffined in rice, tempting me to hope that it will dry out and somehow work again (very unlikely). See! No plumber required.
So to anyone who drops a new phone down a toilet while flushing it, don't despair! Just get out your iCloud control panel, Looxcie lifelogging camera, powerful laser, coat hanger, plastic bag, rubber bands, twine, tape, twist ties, 1/16" Allen wrench, 2" neodymium sphere magnet, and your stubborn inability to give up in the face of overwhelming evidence of failure.