November 20, 2006

Note to Self: Don't Immerse BlackBerry in Water

Some things seem obvious - like not sticking the knife in the toaster to retrieve the stray piece of bread, or trusting our beagle to behave herself when meat is within jumping reach on the table. The rule to not pour water on your laptop keyboard, and to keep your cell phone out of the sink should be equally as clear, even to those who aren't threatening to be our next generation of intellectual leaders. Yet somehow, I did the unthinkable just over a week ago, when I dropped my BlackBerry, including its holster, fully into the water. Only now is the device coming back to its full senses.

To send one's BlackBerry for an unnecessary swim seems best left to others. "Oh, that will never happen to me," I thought, snickering when a good friend of mine told me he once flushed away his cell phone in a public rest room. "I'd never do that."

Yet, the Friday before last, an inadvertent elbow threw the BlackBerry and holster into a bathroom stall at the office (water fully clean, mind you), with a big splash, sending me quickly reaching into the porcelain pool to get my geeky connection to the outside world. Water poured out of every one of the device's orifices, and the BlackBerry gasped for life, propelling ridiculous strings of text onto the screen, numbers and letters alike, and repeatedly prompted me to "assign a hot key for * on the speed dial".

No buttons I pressed did anything. I couldn't even turn the device off, after wrapping it in tissue paper, and seemingly tilting the BlackBerry at every possible angle to shake what I thought would be the last drops. Then the scroll wheel stopped working, and if you've ever had a BlackBerry, being unable to use the scroll wheel is like driving a car by putting it in neutral and sticking your leg outside of the door to push it along. It can be done, but it's ridiculously hard, and not worth the effort.

A friend of mine suggested a home remedy - pack the offending Blackberry in a sealed sandwich bag full of rice. The rice presumably would suck away all the water vapor from inside the device, and could potentially restore it back to life. For 48 hours last week, I did just that, and when the BlackBerry emerged, I no longer saw the beads of water behind the screen, taunting me, but the scroll wheel remained totally useless. But I still needed the BlackBerry, and took it with me to Tampa last week, though it had been hobbled by its near-drowning experience.

Relearning how to use the BlackBerry without the scrollwheel was frustrating, but it could be done. I could navigate my e-mail by hitting the T/Y key to move up, and the B/N key to move downward. To navigate through menus, I would type the first letter of the selection, and hit it repeatedly if more than one selection started with the same letter. But it was rough. I contemplated taking it into IT, falling to my knees and pleading user error, or making some excuse on how they gave me a bum device and they were no better than the spawn of Satan. But I couldn't do it. I would just plug along, crippled, but not defeated.

For a week, we lived with this. Colleagues mocked me. I growled at this useless electronic appendage attached to my hip, one that might never forgive me for 8 seconds of idiocy. And then, tonight, as if all was forgiven, it came to life again. I twirled the scroll wheel, and the BlackBerry had taken me back, as a lover would following a heated quarrel. All was forgotten, and the device is back to making me happy again. Once again, I can do more than e-mail and dialing memorized phone numbers. I can surf the Internet again, I can jot notes in the notepad, or play embedded games. Though I had threatened the BlackBerry's life by drowning, it came back, and I've learned my lesson - for now, until I really want an upgrade. Then I'll see if its rectangular shape lends well to skipping across the lake.

Listening to ''Steve Lawler'', by Rise 'In (Nalin & Kane Vocal M (Play Count: 4)

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