Wednesday, March 25, 2009
A mute point
Q. What do you call someone whose tongue cancer prevents him from speaking?
A. A guy who simply has to find an alternative means of communication.
Q. What do you call someone with tongue cancer who pulls a load of laundry out of the washing machine and discovers he left his cell phone in his jeans pocket?
A. A guy with a serious communications crisis on his hands!
OK, so I left my cell phone in my jeans on laundry day.
So be my guest: Text "Dude, U R a doofus!" to 213 446-7285. I deserve heaps of public humiliation for pulling a boner like that, up to and including President Obama making fun of me on Jay Leno's show.
But in my defense, I can't be the only guy on the planet with a Downey fresh but completely inoperative cell phone.
I bet that thousands of people have accidentally laundered their cell phone. I bet that even more people have dropped their cell phone into a basin of dishwater, into a garbage disposal, or jumped into a swimming pool with a cell phone in their trunks.
Some people even admit to dropping their cell phone in the toilet. Don't take my word for it; just Google "cell phone" and "toilet," like I did last night.
You'll get 2,800,000 hits!
At least I had enough smarts not to try to repair the phone by wrapping a Bounce sheet around it and putting it into the dryer. Instead, I removed the battery and the SIM card, wiped them down with a paper towel, and left everything on the kitchen counter overnight.
Maybe that will be enough to fix it.
In the meantime, being without a cell phone is not a simple inconvenience for me. It's a bona fide catastrophe.
Lacking the ability to speak, I haven't placed a phone call on my cell phone for months, nor have I picked up an incoming call before allowing it to go to voice mail.
But text messages are a whole other story.
Text messages are to me what smoke signals were to Indians. In the four days that I was hospitalized in January, I must have sent 600 text messages, giving friends and family members updates on my condition.
My cell phone has allowed me to do what my tongue won't: communicate with the outside world. Without the ability to send and receive text messages, I may as well seal myself inside a refrigerator box and wait for my tongue to heal.
It's been less than a day since I've opened my phone's In Box or clicked Send, and already I'm feeling like Tom Hanks in that movie where he washed up on a deserted island with only a soccer ball to call a friend.
What if someone is trying to text me this very minute? I got a text message from Obama after he picked Joe Biden as his running mate. What if Michelle is texting me now to announce the next vegetable she will plant in the White House garden?
But I have an advantage that the average schmo who drenches his cell phone may lack.
I rent a machine from Kaiser that extracts secretions from my trach.
This gadget operates based on the principle of suction and it's about as loud as a leaf blower. It took weeks for me to get over my fear that the suction tool was going to suck all of my internal organs up my windpipe when I stuck it in my trach or in my mouth.
So this morning I used the suction machine on my cell phone.
It may not do the trick, and probably is a violation of the rental agreement I signed when I took possession of the suction machine, but a crisis like this calls for desperate measures.
My cell phone is like a digital tongue to me –an organ that even cancer can't render mute.
If only there were a way I could keep a monkey like me from messing it up.