by Mike Todd

For that brief moment, when your iPhone is hurtling downward through the artificially freshened restroom air, from the privacy of your stall, you will think, “Please, when you land, go clackety-clack-skitter, not sploosh.”

You may even have a chance to lean your head to one side, like the bad guys have just tossed a three-point buzzer-beater toward the basket, and maybe, just maybe, you could bend its arc with your will, making it bounce off the rim.

I found myself in this position at work last week, watching the device falling toward its date with porcelain destiny.

“This is what you get,” I thought.

The previous day, as I walked past the row of stalls in our work bathroom, a door flung open and a new guy walked right toward me, ignoring the bathroom traffic laws and merging recklessly, so engrossed in his phone that other organic life forms did not exist to him. I was like a squirrel in the street trying to guess which way the car would go. This way, then that, I stutter-stepped to get out of his way as he plowed forward to the sinks, never seeming to notice me.

That was a close call. You do not make eye contact in the men’s room, and you especially do not make actual contact.

“Put your phones down and act like people, people,” I thought, shaking my head. Also, everyone, we can hear when you don’t use the soap dispenser. You’re not fooling anyone with that little spritz of water. If you’re going to take the charade that far, why not just actually wash your hands?

That night, my buddy Josh posted a picture to Facebook with this caption: “After seeing this picture, I’ve decided to never buy my son a cell phone. Ever.”

In the picture, two little boys sat side-by-side on a carnival ride, whipping around a turn with their hands and feet outstretched, glee and wonder on their faces. In the car behind them, two teenage girls sat, glum-faced, one with a phone to her ear, the other tapping at her phone like a lab rat wondering when the treat was finally going to roll out.

I used to think people looked busy or important when they tapped on their phones in public. Now it just seems sadder than if they were actually paying attention to the world around them.

It was against this backdrop that I decided my email must be checked at the same time my trousers were dropped, lest my trip to the bathroom be only productive in the way nature intended. As I prepared to sit, a clumsy fumble sent the phone tumbling out of my hands.

If an old woman in a dark cloak had stopped me in the parking lot on my way into work that morning and said, “You. Yes, you’re the one. You’re going to stick your hand into the toilet today,” poking me in the chest with her bony finger, I would have gone inside immediately and called security.
Alas, she would have been right.

“Sploosh!” went the iPhone.

In that moment, decisive action had to be taken. I don’t like to throw around the word “hero” too loosely, but just like the guy who jumps into the raging river after the child who got swept into the current, I did not hesitate. When you’re a hero, you do what the situation requires, whether it’s saving a kid’s life or dunking your hand into the john while wearing your best buttoned-down shirt.

While I didn’t do any wonders for my dignity that morning, I actually did manage to save my phone, which somehow still works just fine. If this ever happens to you, there is hope for a happy ending. Just don’t get so flustered that you dribble on your pants.