DISPATCH FROM . . .

A Wired-In Guy Getting Set for a Big Date

The author's vital lifeline dries out on a bed of rice after being plucked from a brief but life-threatening dip in the toilet (don't worry; the water was clean).
The author's vital lifeline dries out on a bed of rice after being plucked from a brief but life-threatening dip in the toilet (don't worry; the water was clean). (By Ernesto Londoño -- The Washington Post)

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Monday, June 11, 2007

We once dropped our hotel room key down the crack into an elevator shaft. We once dropped our car keys into a sewer grate. Heck, as long as we're confessing, we once dropped the Thanksgiving turkey on the floor. So, we relate to this peculiar story.

This is a cautionary tale. It involves a BlackBerry in a toilet, a roommate with a hair dryer, a bowl of uncooked rice and a date who almost got stood up. And it has a happy ending -- sort of.

Things started going downhill one Saturday evening after I got home from a bike ride. As I was about to wash my hands, I unclipped my waist bag, onto which I strap my BlackBerry.

That's when I heard the clunk. My BlackBerry was in the toilet. Clean water, thankfully. I pulled it out as quickly as I could and shook it with all my might. The screen looked blurry, fading. I figured it'd be a good idea to pop the battery out.

Then it hit me: I had a date with someone I'd met the night before. It was two hours away. Plans weren't firm. We'd agreed to go to a movie but hadn't determined where or at what time. For a change, this was a date I was kind of excited about. But I'd saved the number only on my BlackBerry.

"Mark!" I hollered. "Do you have a hair dryer?"

My roommate, Mark, does not look like the kind of guy who owns a hair dryer. In fact, some might wonder if he owns a comb. But luckily he came through. I spent a half-hour drying the device from all angles, thinking about how many numbers I'd lose if the gadget were forever comatose.

I sent a friend an instant message from my laptop, sharing my plight. My friend told me to leave it turned off overnight in a bowl of uncooked rice.

Huh?

Rice, he explained, sucks out moisture. My friend refused to let me use his name in the paper because his federal employer sternly discourages any and all communication with reporters about serious matters such as convalescent BlackBerrys and rice.

I was able to turn it on long enough to retrieve the one number that might save me from offering the lamest and most embarrassing excuse for standing someone up.

After sleeping in a bed of rice, my BlackBerry functioned well Sunday, except for the time function, which froze.

It was flimsy on Monday, fading in and out, but sprang back to life Tuesday, after another night in the rice bowl.

The research I've done thus far suggests it's only a matter of time before it takes its last BlackBerry breath and expires. But the prospect of dishing out $450 for a new one has sustained my faith in the healing qualities of rice.

About that happy ending: We're going out on another date.

-- Ernesto Londoño, staff writer


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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