Phone In John: The Worderful Ways I've Destroyed Electronics

I have earned a reasonable reputation for being brutal to all kinds of electric, battery-operated, semi-expensive devices. Since childhood, I have found new and inventive ways to bust open a toy, fry a CD player and crash a computer. This is not directly related to being completely irresponsible (though, maybe…), but I sort of just chock the whole thing up to bad luck and sometimes (more often than not) bad behavior. Electronics and me, we just don’t get along.

My earliest memory of destruction was when I force fed my Teddy Ruxpin Cheetos as he talked. My older sister helped, so I can’t be fully blamed. I LOVE Cheetos, so naturally I thought Teddy would too. As he told his stories, I filled his little bear-beak up with the crunchy snacks. An orange ring formed around his mouth-fur, and crumbs stained the little red t-shirt he wore. Looking back, we totally matched. They say the quickest way to make a friend is to bond over something you both love, so naturally I thought Ted and I were BFFs. You can imagine my despair when he had to go back to England to live with his bear family, on account of smelling unfit for a human household.

As  I got a little older, I managed to break all manner of Tomagatchis, karaoke players, talking dolls and mini-keyboards. Everything that needed a battery to come alive was subjected to being painted on, thrown to the ground or taken into the tub. My parents tried to ease my pursuits in another direction with art supplies and stuffed animals, but all of those got operated on and tattered up as well. Perhaps I was just bad with things in general, I don’t really know. I still wonder if this is why I don’t let myself buy many nice things.

As a teenager I managed to break almost every CD player we had in the house, save for my dad’s stereo. I once dropped a Disk Man in a creek while hanging out in the woods. I scratched all my CDs, from TLC to The Doors, and at one point my parents threatened to stop buying them for me. All of my favorite watches have been waterproof and plastic.

I was no better in college, and made an absolute mess of my first ever computer. I spilled so much crap on the keyboard that most of the keys from S through G stuck when you touched them. I overloaded the hard drive with movies, music, photos and papers. My tiny Dell wheezed and coughed every time I turned it on. “No, please stop!” it cried, “I can’t take it anymore!”

My crowning achievement was the night I went out with a bunch of friends in San Francisco and dropped my brand new Razr in the toilet. I had just texted a few people (including a boy) and was pulling my pants off to pee when I heard a horrid splash. My phone had been in my back pocket, and unbeknownst to me, had slid out and into the bowl. I could see it there, floating, drowning and mocking me. I had no choice but to roll up my sleeves and reach in and fish it out. I closed my eyes and went to my happy place.

Without thinking (which I was pretty good at at the time), I tried to turn my phone on right away. Nothing. I took off the back panel and saw that the water damage sticker had turned from white to red, a scarlet dot to showcase my toilet shame. At the time I was more concerned with connecting with the friends (and the boy) I had just texted, so I threw my phone in my purse and headed home. Once there, I penned the shortest, most telling email of my early twenties.

“Dear People I Texted Tonight,

Phone in John. This is not a joke. Do you still want to come over?


The next morning I tried the old rice trick, and it did not work (but it has the other times I’ve soaked a phone). Sad to say, my Razr did not live to see another Saturday night. So many phones have perished, or simply stopped working for no good reason. I have spent so much time in my life waiting around at the Verizon store that they should just give me a job (as long as that job does not involve being responsible for phones).

There have been other tragedies. Once my cat knocked over a bookshelf where I was storing a bowl of cereal and splattered my laptop with a nice layer of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The idiot at the Genius Bar simply laughed at me, then told me it would be cheaper to get a new computer than have the sugarcoated one fixed.  My most recent MacBook is currently unusable because the charger broke off inside the computer. Inside! Who does that?!

I hardly trust myself to own a digital camera, as I can foresee bits of it smashed all over a dance floor or flung into the ocean. My boyfriend gets nervous when I borrow his iPod. My current phone is encased in a layer of plastic, and a sturdy cover. It sits as far away from any coffee cups or water glasses that rest nearby. Sometimes I look at it and wonder how something so small and precious has lasted so long in this cruel, dangerous world.

But you know what? I still take it into the bathroom with me. Real talk: it’s the best place to look at Instagrams.