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A moment of dumbness

The problem all began when a $400 LG Chocolate cell phone accidentally hit the rinse cycle of a LG Steam Tromm washer.

May 1, 2008  

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Time to share a moment of dumbness. My wife and I have a border collie (no, that’s not the moment: Stay with me).

Mocean was born March 15, 2007 and is a metric tonne o’ fun. When he was about 11 months old, I took him for a sheep herding test and we have been learning how to work livestock ever since. (No, that’s not the moment either, although people do question why someone living in downtown Toronto would take up herding. I always say, “Do you see any sheep around here? No, and you can thank Mocean and me for that.”)

Working stock is an intense experience that requires quick thinking and fast action, especially when your dog knows what to do instinctively and you are learning on the fly. It can also be pretty dirty. Therefore, when we get home, mentally and physically exhausted from herding, we have a routine: I give Mocean a bath, I have a shower, and I throw my herding clothes (plus dog blankets and whatever other laundry I can add to the load) into the washing machine.

We are getting closer to the moment of dumbness.

Perhaps it was the pints the night before herding, while solving the world’s problems with a couple of friends who

also work in the technology industry. Maybe it was the 75- minute drive in each direction to get to herding class.

Or it could have been the distraction of having dinner guests the same day as herding class, and the need to juggle the post-herding routine with cleaning the house and getting a fancy meal to the table. Whatever the case, I got out of the shower, started the powerful and efficient steam washer in the en suite laundry room and then got dressed.

Men: You know the procedure —the automatic check for everything as you get dressed. Keys: yep. Wallet: gotcha. Watch: good. Wedding band: uh-huh. Mobile phone… wait, where’s the mobile phone?

Yep, I had just drowned my $400 LG Chocolate phone in our LG Steam Tromm washer. (It is SO tempting to blame the manufacturer at a time like this. “C’mon LG: We’ve been talking about convergence for a decade now! You couldn’t have made a phone that would seamlessly integrate with your own washing machine?!?” But, no the blame is all mine. If I needed any further proof of that, it is right there on page 13 of the user manual. “Do not expose the phone to liquid or moisture.” My replacement TG800F is on the way.)

You might think this, finally, was the moment of dumbness. Sorry to disappoint. This was a moment of “life happens”. Here are a couple of examples:

I once saw a PR person for a wireless company drop a phone on an escalator at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The phone did a tumbling routine worthy of a gymnast, ending with a spectacular explosion at the bottom. People applauded!

A friend once tipped a full pint into a laptop. I am sure every reader has a

similar story. This stuff happens every day. I have had a mobile for more than a decade, and for many of those years it has been either my primary or only phone. It was only a matter of time before I lost it, ran it over, or had a similar phone-destroying accident.

My phone’s Adventures in Laundry were, in some sense, inevitable. So what is the moment of dumbness? It’s right there, on page 129 of the user manual: “The data saved in your phone might be deleted due to careless use (blah blah blah)… Please back up your important phone numbers.” Did I do that? Nope! I haven’t entirely boned myself. Many (but not all) of the numbers are in my computer’s contact manager. But my phone could store 1,000 numbers. Reloading these, one at a time, will be a nightmare. Lesson learned: The most important piece of hardware in the box may be the USB cable that connects today’s phones to a PC. Use it!

Trevor Marshall is a Toronto-based reporter, writer and observer of the Canadian wireless industry. He can be reached (on his mobile, now steam washerized!) at 416-878-7730 or