Dumpster diving

December 1, 2010 at 4:55 pm 1 comment

In the latest edition of “Amy is a Bonehead,” I dropped my cell phone in the toilet last week.

I posted about it on Facebook.  Several people commented that they, too, had experienced cell phone immersion when the phone fell out of a pocket during nature’s call.  While I appreciated the commiseration with my plight, having a cell phone fall out of a pocket falls more into the heading of Things That Really Suck and not so much in the category of I Can’t Believe What An Idiot I Am.  Which is more where my little debacle belongs.

I was simply trying to save time, trying to check my email as I was getting ready for work.  I brought the phone into the bathroom and hit “Sync.”  As I waited for the emails to load to the phone’s inbox, I started to put the phone down on the counter next to the sink.  However, I had visions of me knocking the phone off directly into the toilet, so I scooped it up in my right hand just as I had the brilliant thought that maybe I should put the toilet seat down.

My first mistake was trying to put the seat down with the SAME HAND that was holding the phone.  And just as the thought, “Don’t drop your cell phone into the toi…” hit my brain, the phone seemed to launch itself from my hand and dive straight down to the bottom of the bowl.

Well, that’s a really crappy way to start the day.

After fishing it out, I posted my plight on Facebook.  Several of those experienced with catastrophes of this nature recommended putting the phone in a bowl of rice, which helps absorb the moisture from the phone.  So that’s what I did.  Actually, that’s what Brad did.  You see, everyone recommended taking the battery off the phone before putting it in the rice.  And I couldn’t figure out how to get the battery off my phone.  I ended up IM’ing my help desk (Brad), who gallantly came home a while later and got the drying out process started for me.

I’m happy to report that the cell phone worked after resting in the rice for 24 hours.  I wish I could also report that an incident of this nature is isolated and has never happened to me before.

Sadly, I have a history of things like this.

A few years ago, my dad owned a chain of tanning salons.  Every weekend, I helped open the stores, unlocking the doors and getting them up & running for the day.  I was responsible for opening one store in particular, and I had developed my own little routine: unlock the east door, disarm the security system, start the computer, turn on the AC, take the trash out from the night before, unlock the west door, and turn on the “open” sign.

One Saturday morning, I had made it halfway through the routine without mishap and had reached item #5: take out the trash.  As I hauled the trash bag out to the dumpster, I realized I was still clutching the store keys in my hand.

You see where this is going, don’t you?

For some inexplicable reason, I had the trash bag in the same hand as the keys.  And as I tossed the trash bag into the just-emptied commercial-sized dumpster, the thought “Don’t throw your keys into the dump…” shot through my head even as the keys flew from my hand and followed the flight of the trash bag straight to the bottom of the dumpster.


I pondered my dilemma for a moment.  Then I realized that what I needed was something long to fish the keys out.  I went inside and grabbed a broom, but it wasn’t long enough to reach the bottom of the dumpster.  I walked around the tanning salon for a couple of minutes, looking for something pole-like.

That’s when it hit me: a tanning bed bulb was the perfect length.

It struck me that I needed a “hook”, something to grab the key ring.  I fashioned a makeshift hook by taping an unbent paper clip onto the end of the dumpster and headed back outside.

But my homemade fishing pole didn’t work.  The paper clip was too flimsy to really grab the key ring.  I couldn’t get the right angle to scoop it up.  Discouraged, I took the bulb back inside and leaned it up in a corner not far from the back door.

Where it fell over as the wind hit it when I opened the back door.

Onto a hard floor.

Where it shattered.

In case you don’t realize, a tanning bed bulb doesn’t break.  It explodes upon impact.  I had pieces of glass in the hallway and on the carpet of the adjacent tanning room.  I also had to apologize to my dad for breaking a really expensive piece of equipment.

(Sorry, Dad.)

So now I’ve got shards of glass everywhere.  And my store keys are still in the bottom of the dumpster.  At this point I realized something.  I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to fish the keys out.

I was going to have to go in.

I carried a chair from one of the tanning rooms outside and placed it just in front of the dumpster.  I used it to hoist myself up onto the lip, where I could jump right on in.  I grabbed my keys triumphantly in victory.

And then I realized I wasn’t sure I could climb back out of the dumpster.

From the inside, the front of the dumpster was a smooth sheet of metal about 6 1/2 feet high.  And while I’m not a dainty flower – I clock in at about 5’9″ – my upper body strength is sadly sub-par. Since the dumpster was empty, I didn’t have any trash to stand on or push off of.  I was going to have to rely on my measly arm muscles to haul myself out.

Somehow, some way, I managed to shimmy up the side of the dumpster and pull myself up to its lip.  At the top I perched precariously while trying to get my legs swung around so I could put them on the chair.  Even a gymnast would have had a hard time contorting themselves into the right angles to get those legs over the top of the dumpster.  And we all know I ain’t no gymnast.

By the time my feet hit the ground, an hour had elapsed between tossing my keys in the dumpster and hauling them and myself out.  It took another hour to clean up the glass.  My carelessness resulted in a ten-minute trip taking 12x the amount of time.

But I learned a lesson from that disaster.  Obviously, the lesson was not to keep valuable things like keys and cell phones away from dumpsters and toilets.

Rather, the lesson was this: if you’re going to throw your keys in a dumpster, choose an empty one.  At least you won’t have to dig through trash to find them.


Entry filed under: Life in general.

Roll credits Taking back my time

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Michelle Swift  |  December 1, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    You make me laugh!!


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