It is easy to forget that a cell phone is a complex electronic device that should be protected from the elements and from regular exposure to temperature extremes. This is because we've come to think of cell phones as necessary everyday living accoutrement, as ordinary as the pants pockets we put them in.
We take them everywhere - talking and texting from crowded reception halls and solitary meetings. You might hold one up over your head to get a shot of the concert stage or out the car window to capture the sunset. And then you probably come home and toss it on the countertop, assuming it's as sturdy as a set of keys.
My point is, the cell phone is a fragile mini-computer that should not be laundered, not even on the delicate cycle. We wouldn't dream of throwing an iPod or a Kindle in the washing machine. So why is it that so many of us share the agitating experience of retrieving a cell phone from the bottom of the washer?
At least I have now identified the scenario that invariably leads to cell phone washing for me: sleep deprivation. The first time coincided with the Mount Hebron High School "Mystery Virus of 2004." Night after night, actors and musicians were succumbing to what can only be described as a rapid-onset stomach flu while performing "The Will Rogers Follies." I'm afraid I will always think of that musical as "The Will Vomit Tamales," because of the unfortunate menu I served the night my son came down with it.
My motherhood training demanded I get up every time he was sick throughout the long night, to hold his head and hand him a cool washcloth. This is what my mother did, so I do it, too. I frankly think it's right up there with the inflight diaper change, in terms of appeal.
The next morning, while my son slept, I headed to the local laundromat with all of his towels and bedding. I do recall commiserating on my cell phone with a fellow drama mama while dragging out a little cart to pack with my son's comforter and sheets. But I don't recall ending the conversation by tossing the phone in with the load. Evidently, this is what transpired.
I guess those industrial-strength machines were too much for my slim, elegant "RAZR." Fortunately, my husband was extremely understanding. As far as he's concerned, the 12-hour head-holding, washcloth-toting shift is probably worth a half-dozen cell phones, anyway.
My second cell phone laundering incident occurred after I volunteered to work at the Marriotts Ridge High "after-prom" party last spring. I should have realized that "after-prom" volunteering requires staying up until after the prom.
As the night progressed, I went through the four basic stages of fatigue:
* Excessive yawning.
* False energy boost.
* Everything's funny!
* Now I understand those people who crash in public places, drooling on their suitcases in airport terminals and bus depots.
I drove home in a zombie-like state about 5 a.m., and slept until 8 a.m., which seemed like a good time to leap out of bed and launder my jeans from the night before, my cell phone still in the pocket.
So how could I get annoyed, really, when my youngest son left his cell phone in his pants' pocket in the clothes hamper a few months ago? It's not like I couldn't understand how this could happen.
But this time, the tide had turned on my cell phone washing experiences, and I felt great cheer - an ultra miracle in this, a new era of cell phone sturdiness! I only discovered the phone when it came out of the dryer, and it worked. And to this day, it still works.
So if you launder your phone, I recommend you complete the full wash cycle and throw it in the dryer. Don't forget the dryer sheet. There's nothing worse than a cell phone with a lot of static.
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