Mitch was taking my photo as we headed to the ice cream shop, the finale of three days in Santa Barbara. The kids had skipped ahead to check out the flavors and I turned to him. “I look like crap.” I am not someone who beats myself up like this and today was no exception; I simply knew it to be true. He replied “You look like someone who hasn’t slept in days and needs sleep.” He was right.
After ice cream we started to walk along the marina pier towards the parking lot and Ella and Ruby said they needed to go to the bathroom. Mitch volunteered to take them while Bowen and I checked out the boats and went ahead to the car. I strapped Bowen into the stroller alongside the pier, keys in hand and went to grab my phone in case Mitch needed to reach me.
I looked for my phone in my bag and then remembered that only minutes earlier Bowen had asked if he could “put my phone away” in the camera bag. I had obliged. As I opened it, the phone came flying out of the bag because it had been laying on top rather than tucked in. I watched aghast as my iPhone flew straight over the railing and into the water below. I could see it clearly only a few feet down.
My exhaustion turned to self-pity and I started to weep silently. I didn’t want Bowen to see me in this state so I kind of kneeled behind the stroller, hoping he wouldn’t need me. He was unusually silent until he popped his head over the stroller and asked why I was crying.
Passerbys saw me looking into the water and started to look down too. They were pointing and coming over to offer their iPhone condolences. My thoughts turned to Mitch. I pathetically hoped my weeping would continue until he returned so that he would at least muster a tiny bit of empathy for my klutzy/careless move.
Then a woman came by and said, “You need a net.” Until that point, it hadn’t occurred to me that I could save the phone. She saw that I was a useless puddle so she called across the dock to a woman parking her boat and asked if she had a net. This helpful boater came over just as Mitch and the girls arrived. Mitch had only one reaction to the scene he had returned to: “How to complicate a complicated life.”
Boater Woman gave me a leash so that I could hold her dog while she climbed over the fence with her net to capture the phone. We began to attract a crowd. Her tush was haphazardly perched on a steep rock that led straight to the water. She had no leverage and as she attempted her rescue mission, she promptly pushed the phone deeper into the water.
Undeterred, she summoned a man in a wetsuit in a kayak to come over. He was not excited at all to be roped into this mess and claimed that the glare from the sun prevented him from seeing the phone or helping. Boater would have nothing of it and convinced him to leave his kayak to dive for the phone. Like the spot in The Cat in the Hat, my iPhone problem had transferred from me to the boater to the kayaker.
Kayak Man jumped out of his boat and once again claimed failure, this time because he was wearing a floatation device that prevented him from going under water. Boater pressured him to disrobe from the floatation device and he dove in to become the reluctant hero.
My iPhone was again in my hand. I had thoughts of running to a restaurant to grab rice to dry the soaking phone when another stranger came over to say that she had dropped her phone in the toilet and used a diaper to dry it. She claimed that in three days her iPhone was working again. I wanted to believe her; I had a diaper in my bag after all. I dried the phone and wrapped it tightly in Bowen’s diaper.
We walked towards the car and Ella was busy doing math. “Wouldn’t it be great if it took longer than three days to dry – if it took six days and started working again exactly on your birthday?” This, from the child who no longer believes in the tooth fairy.