Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Laundering Electronics

I have become adept at laundering high-tech electronics. I have now ruined at least three cell phone/BlackBerry devices by tossing them into the washing machine.

My latest foray into the world of ruining such things was this past weekend, when I accidentally laundered my wife’s STATE-OWNED BlackBerry. I have little doubt that the Walker administration will soon be making an example of this wanton waste of the resources of the Wisconsin taxpayer.

The two prior destructive incidents took place several years ago, and involved cell phones owned and issued by my then-employer. After I laundered (and destroyed) the second one, the CFO told me the company would no longer provide me with a cell phone. I told her that was fine with me. Her decision was overruled by the CEO a few hours later, who explained to her that this is the sort of thing usually referred to as “an accident”, and that it was not good company policy to have its most senior news anchor potentially unreachable in the case of a public emergency.

The story behind this most recent incident has its roots in my constant nagging of my wife to take a cell phone with her when she forays out into the wilderness, away from our wooded suburban enclave. She announced she was off on one of her many weekend errands, and I yelled down to her “take your cell phone with you.” She has a personal cell phone, which she informed me was out of juice and presently in charge-mode, so she grabbed her STATE-ISSUED BlackBerry and headed out the door. I have lectured her many times on the foolhardiness of going out into the world without a phone, which she can use to quickly summon assistance in the event of an emergency. The free spirit in her resists these overtures.

One of my weekend activities was to look for my resort wardrobe, to begin packing for our Caribbean vacation which begins this coming weekend. I dug out the shorts and “Hawaiian shirts” and tossed them, along with my wife’s Southern Illinois University Alum hoodie and sundry other items already deposited in the laundry basket, into the washing machine.

I did NOT check the pockets of my wife’s SIU alum hoodie, one of which contained her STATE-OWNED BlackBerry.

My wife, for those who don’t know, is a senior Public Affairs operative for UW-Health, and is required to be “on-call” 24/7 about 10 weeks each year, to immediately respond to a disaster or significantly newsworthy community event, involving person or persons taken to UW-Hospital. She must run interference for the medical professionals, fielding and responding to the calls of pesky reporters, so the medical professionals can spend 100% of their time practicing medicine, and not responding to calls from reporters and other news producers regarding updates on patient status and whether or not they can “send a live crew over” to “do a live-shot for the 6 o’clock news” and similar such queries.

Hence, the STATE-OWNED and STATE-ISSUED BlackBerry. And a STATE-OWNED and STATE-ISSUED paging device, so if they call her BlackBerry after hours 24/7/365 and she doesn’t answer, they can page her, with a message like “CALL IN RIGHT NOW, WE GOTTA TALK TO YOU ABOUT SOMETHING.”

After discovering what I’d done, I summoned the courage to inform her that I’d laundered her STATE-OWNED BlackBerry. After the initial shock wore off, I posted this information to my Facebook status, and scores of helpful friends made suggestions about how to save the BlackBerry, ranging from the use of a hair dryer to suggestions involving placing the drowned BlackBerry into a bag of rice. None of these stratagems worked.

Two items in conclusion: my wife now has a new STATE-OWNED BlackBerry, and I will be checking ALL the pockets of clothes tossed into the laundry basket before throwing them into the machine and drowning them.


  1. We have a simple rule at my house: Jim does not check pockets before he does laundry. You got anything in your pockets you don't want laundered, you take it out of there, because I ain't responsible otherwise. As a result, I have yet to launder a cell phone. I have laundered a great deal of folding money, however, which by a second house rule, the launderer gets to keep if he finds it.

    OK, that I'll look for.

  2. There ARE such things as halyards for cell-phones.