I hear a faint sound as I step onto the curb from my partner’s car on Spring Garden Road. I peer down at my feet, and into a deep sewer grate. The water ominously ripples.
I look up at my boyfriend to see the despair on his face as he sits in the driver’s seat.
His jaw is open and his eyes are wide, looking at me in disbelief of what had just happened.
I look down the grate again. Did I drop something? I check my bag. I have my wallet; my keys are where they should be. What’s missing?
I face him again and this time, his hand is covering his mouth. Then, I realize what escaped my purse.
“My phone! Was that my phone?!”
That’s when the hysteria sets in. I scream. I cry. I panic.
Just to be clear, I’m not careless with my phone. There’s never been a single scratch on it. But leave it to me to drop it down the sewer the first time it’s ever come in contact with anything.
After I come to terms with what happened, a funny thought wanders into my mind.
Why can’t I be like a normal person and accidentally drop it in the toilet instead?
At this point, I’m bashing myself: “Why are you so careless, Allie? What the hell is wrong with you?”
Enter Brian from Halifax Water. He comes to help but since it’s a Sunday, he can’t do much. He tells us we have to wait until Monday evening to get a crane, block off traffic, open the grate and try to fish the phone out.
Seems like a lot for a stupid little phone, huh?
For 29 hours, my phone mingles with the sewer life, but it continues to ring when I call it from my friends’ phones. My heart gleams with hopefulness followed by manic laughter. The situation is absurd.
That night, I get on Apple’s live chat and the customer service rep informs me that my warranty expired two days ago.
What a joke, right?
All night I think about my poor phone, its rings crying out to me like a child crying for its mother. Another sleepless night.
We return to the grate on Monday at 6 p.m. It’s dark and the city lights illuminate the street. I meet Brian in front of Oasis Pub at the grate where my phone fell. Municipal workers get in place to block off parts of the street while another man parks a truck with the crane attached.
The grate doesn’t budge.
Brian and his team begin beating it with a sledgehammer. Sparks and chunks of metal fly everywhere, and one shard slams a worker in the shin.
But that doesn’t stop them.
They’re more determined than Super Mario on his mission to save Princess Peach. Except in this version of the game, it’s Halifax Water vs. the sewer that swallowed my phone.
The grate gives way after a prolonged beating and the men take a long shovel and stick it down the sewer.
I crouch on the side of the road and peer down about five feet into the tunnel with a flashlight. There’s nothing but black sludge water, leaves and someone’s credit card. Everything reeks of rotten eggs. But I don’t see my phone.
Brian and his team sift through the mud for what feels like forever. They almost give up until I scream, “That’s it! That’s my phone!” which probably gives everyone hope. They continue until I see the white face of my iPhone peek through the mud. The screen is on and it beams as if it’s relieved to see me again.
After a deep clean with soap and sanitizer, I clean out the ports and everything works fine. I take my phone home and it’s as if nothing had ever happened. No dry rice bath, and the screen, speakers and charging port all work normally.
It’s a miracle.
I’m grateful for Brian and his team. Without them, a sewer rat probably would have run up my phone bill. Not many people would expect Halifax Water to go through all that work (I for sure didn’t).
Next time you have a complaint about those workers, remember this story. Some of them really do want to help.