Friday, October 25, 2013

So I Dropped My iPhone in a Canal

Picture an idyllic Beijing day with crisp autumn air and the rare bright blue sky.  The grandparents are visiting so we’ve taken the day to enjoy the Summer Palace, the centuries old escape from the bustle of the city.  We walk where emperors once strolled, round the lake ringed with graceful willows. 

Grandparents delight the kids with a boat ride.  

We make our way through back canals lined with quaint shops/tourist traps.  Grandma is happy to oblige her granddaughter’s love of all things princess. 

We continue to make our way along the canal, careful to keep the kids away from the railing-less edge that drops four feet to the water.  I snap a few pictures on my phone, trying to capture the kids with the Chinese storybook backgrounds.  

Suddenly my chilled fingers fumble, phone slipping from my hand.  A frantic swiping motion only succeeds in making it bounce, pell-mell, tumble, bumble, slow motion horror, right over the edge into the murky water below. 

My father-in-law across the canal hears me shout, turns and snaps a picture, thus capturing my forehead-slapping anguish, my full-faced grimace.  

As with anyone who loses a phone, my mind races to all that is lost.  I feel incredible guilt over all the trouble my dear husband went through to get me this phone, searching for a good price, getting it all legally unlocked for use in China.  This is, no joke, my first smart phone, the only phone we’ve actually spent money on (an iphone 4s if you must know).  I am, of course, all ready completely dependent on it, and berating myself for not going with the waterproof case.   

We can actually see the phone sitting at the bottom of the canal.  I rush to a shopkeeper nearby, asking if she has anything to scoop it out.  She tells us to wait.

Ellie is at this point in tears, so upset for me.  I try to calm her (and myself) down a bit while we wait.  It would feel utterly wrong not to try to get it out, but, we lament, what good will a completely submerged phone be if we can get it out?  Still I refuse to give up hope (sometimes beyond reason), and a prayer pleads in my heart.   

We wait and wait, the chance of recovery growing dimmer by the minute. 

Finally, this guy comes paddling up the canal, rowing with the rescue net. 

By this time a crowd has gathered.  I’m pushed to the back as everyone points out the phone to the rescuer. 

He scoops it up along with a good glob of scummy muck.  But there, peering through the slime and leaves is a screen glowing with Aiden's smirking face.

Yes, after fifteen minutes completely submerged on the bottom of a canal, my phone is working.

Oh, happy, happy day.
We notice a bit later that the camera has fogged up.  So we go home, put it in a box of rice for 24 hours, and wa-la, camera is good as new.

There’s no explaining it really.  The case clearly said it wasn’t waterproof. 

So I’m just going to accept the gift, add it to my thankful list – my iphone miracle.


  1. Beautiful story teller.

  2. Aww shucks. It’s truly a miracle to have it rescued and that it still functioned right. I remember stories about smartphones dropped in a bathtub or toilet that never get to work right again. Take care of your phone, Danielle. I think you would find a pouch or something with a lanyard handy. – Mary,

  3. That's amazing! What a great picture :)