21: The Cell Phone

21: The Cell Phone

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles and More

The Cell Phone

What matters most, God was there for me, when I needed him.

~Lailah Gifty Akita

I was coming back from a boat outing with a few veterans, part of my nonprofit that works with wounded warriors. We were motoring through the canals heading back to my dock when I received a call and answered my cell phone. Ending the call, I slipped the phone in my Army jacket’s breast pocket.

We said our goodbyes, and I got busy cleaning the boat, getting it ready to be hoisted out of the water. And then it happened. I leaned over to attach a line to one of the boat cleats, and my cell phone slid out of my pocket and right into the water.

I stood frozen on the bow of the boat, watching in horror as my phone slowly sank into the murky depths until it was no longer visible. I thought about jumping in to save it, but I knew the water would be cold, I wouldn’t be able to see the phone due to poor visibility, and I didn’t relish raking my hands through the muck trying to feel for it. I knew that the phone must have sunk at least four to five feet before it hit bottom, and then it would have settled into a foot or more of mucky silt.

I decided I should just continue to put my boat up on the lift and then visit the Verizon store to get a new phone. After all, I’d been told that my data was being backed up, so I should be able to retrieve all the info that was on my now waterlogged phone.

When I got to the store, I was told that getting a new phone would not be a problem because I had insurance, but that the only data they backed up was my contacts and voicemail. My photos and videos were lost forever, as they resided on the SIM card that was in the sunken phone. Unless I had backed them up on my computer, they were gone.

I hadn’t backed them up, and when the reality sank in, I burst out crying. There were pictures and videos on my phone of my son going through basic training and of other visits I had had with him at Ft. Bragg before he had been deployed to Afghanistan. These were pictures and videos that could never be replaced. It felt as if I were losing my son all over again.

I know the salesman felt horrible, and I could see that he was not sure what to do with this hysterical woman who was having a total meltdown. He knew that I had, just a few months ago, buried my son.

“I am so sorry,” he said. “I really don’t know of anyone who has ever been able to recover their phone once it went into the water. But if you can somehow retrieve it, I may be able to save the pictures and videos on the SIM card. The card can be in the water for about two hours before the images start to deteriorate.”

I left the store determined to rescue my phone, even though the odds were against me. I jumped in my car and drove to see a friend who had a swimming pool. Karen would have a net, and I was definitely going to need a net if I had any hope of retrieving the phone.

I got the net and went home to lower my boat back into the water. Then I maneuvered it to where I thought it was when my phone slipped out of my pocket. My mother was standing at the top of the dock watching.

I turned to her and said, “Mom, please pray like you have never prayed before.”

After saying a quick prayer myself, I dipped the net into the water until I felt it hit bottom. Then I pushed it down into the silt, scooped it through the muck and lifted up the net. I watched as about twelve inches of the brown mucky substance began draining out through the netting. The net had a few holes in it, so I was worried that I might just drop the phone right back in, even if I was lucky enough to scoop it up.

After about three-quarters of the muck had leaked out, I thought I saw the corner of a bright blue phone case. It was a miracle. With just one scoop, I had my phone. Unbelievable. I quickly swung the net around to my mother, who was also standing there in shock. She grabbed the phone from the net and started to dry it off with a towel.

I threw down the net and bounded up the dock stairs. Grabbing the phone from my mother’s hands, I thanked her and told her I would be back as soon as I could. I jumped into my car and sped off to the phone store.

I ran into the store holding up the phone for the salesman to see.

“Look… can you believe it? I was able to retrieve my phone. Please tell me that you can save my pictures!”

The salesman took the phone from my hands and pulled out the SIM card. He reached for a bottle of clear solution, rinsed the SIM card and then dried it off with a cloth.

“I won’t know for sure until I put the SIM card into a phone. Give me your new phone,” he said.

I handed him my phone, and he put the SIM card inside and then lifted the phone to his ear. “I can hear that it’s trying to load. That’s a good sign.”

Then he looked at the screen. I was holding my breath and trying to read his face. I couldn’t tell if he saw anything or not. Then he turned the face of the phone slowly around to me, and I saw it: a picture of my son. I exhaled, and once more broke down and cried as I sank to my knees, thanking God for his blessings.

~Kelly Kowall

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