RICHARD HYATT: Feeling lost without a smartphone

July 25, 2013 

A man without his cellphone is in a ditch on the Information Superhighway. He's unable to take a call, send a text, check on doctor's appointments, know what the weather is in Kansas City, or look up a piece of useless information on Google.

My beloved iPhone is rehabbing in a bowl of uncooked rice, hoping to recover from a drop of moisture picked up on a beach in Florida.

It started innocently. We checked into our motel in St. Augustine Beach and headed for a walk in the sand. It was going to be a short stroll but Kamryn, our 4-year-old, had to at least get her feet wet.

Kaye was staying dry so I handed her my phone and waded back into the ocean, never realizing that my relationship with my phone might be over.

That night, as we were getting ready for bed, I put my phone into a cabinet and, with the lights dim, I noticed that my flash was illuminated and wouldn't go out. It was totally frozen.

The next day I took it to an AT&T store, praying for a simple diagnosis. A worker there used a word I didn't want to hear: Moisture.

"It probably caused a short," he said. "I can sell you a case. We have some that will protect your phone in up to six feet of water."

Now they tell me.

My phone was naked and I didn't have replacement insurance. They said repair would probably cost more than I wanted to spend.

Someone suggested soaking the phone in rice to suck out the moisture. I thought they were joking but after finding the same advice online I invested in a $2.49 box of rice.

It has been submerged in rice for more than 24 hours but the flash is still on. I won't be eligible for a new iPhone for nine months so I have to make a choice. I can shop for a used one on eBay or buy a phone that isn't so smart.

Meanwhile, I'm learning how much a part of me it is. My first cellphone came in a bag the size of a laptop. I saw it as an emergency tool to use in case my car broke down. Now it's a necessity.

My life is stored in it. I can't remember my wife's

cell number. Why should I? It's in my contact list. I don't take a list of meds with me to the doctor. If they ask what prescriptions I'm taking, I reach for my phone. I check emails whenever I want and headlines are a click away.

I am lost and unconnected. I've been thrown into a sea of white rice and I'm going under for the third time.

-- Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him on Twitter @hyattrichard.

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