How I Found A Working iPhone At The Bottom Of A River



There’s only one important fact to know about Phoenix, Arizona: it’s hot as hell.

I don’t mean that figuratively, either. I mean, if there really is a mystical place with fire, brimstone, and goblin monsters with big horns, then in all likelihood it was modeled after Phoenix. Days that only hit 100°F are cause for celebration, because 115°F is probably coming right around the corner like a stampede of raging, wild bulls hopped up on Adderall.

What makes things even worse about Phoenix is that we don’t have beaches or the ocean. We don’t even have a really good waterpark. But we do have a filthy river just outside the city. So when things get hot, people start doing silly things like grabbing a bunch of inner tubes, beer, a stereo, and snacks and float down the river for hours.

While everyone else on the river is getting drunk or stoned as they throw monster-sized marshmallows at each other, my friends and I take a different tack. We grab our goggles and dive down to the bottom of the river to find all the stuff everyone loses. We find some pretty funny items, like 80s-styled boom boxes, marijuana pipes, bras, Miley Cyrus beach towels, you name it. People suck at holding on to their crap when they’re drunk. It’s a scientific fact.

The area right after the rapids is the best place to look, because that’s where big groups tip over, and it’s also the deepest and most challenging area to scavenge. Most stuff we find we don’t keep, because who the hell wants a used Pez dispenser covered in algae? That all changed last week, though, when we scored our biggest find of all time.

My friend David has been using a beat up iPhone 3G for the last two years. It’s a piece of junk. The home button barely works and the volume buttons are completely inoperable. But David’s cheap. Refuses to upgrade to the iPhone 4S unless Moses, Mohammad or Shiva come out of the heavens and bestow one to him themselves (which is pretty much what’s about to happen).

We were skimming along the bottom of the river last week when something shiny caught our eyes. Ninety percent of the time it’s usually just a beer can. The other ten percent it’s sunglasses. I took a quick deep breath, swam down six feet to get a better look and decided it wasn’t worth swimming the other nine feet to get it. But David decided to go all the way down and grab it anyway.

Bursting through the surface of the water like a dolphin, David screamed, “Oh my goodness, yes! I need this!” while clutching a Ziplock bag with some candy bar-shaped metal object resting inside. In complete disbelief that we had found anything of actual value, I opened up the bag. There it was – an iPhone 4, in pristine condition. Whoever lost it was smart enough to double bag it to protect it from water damage, but not bright enough to not bring their new iPhone 4 on the river.

Maybe the original owner thought, “Hey, I’ll double-bag my iPhone 4, bringing it on the river and get all kinds of sweet pictures for Instagram!” I don’t know. We never found out who owned the iPhone. We took it back to my house, charged it up and tried to locate the owner, but there was a password lock on it, and no one called it because the service had been disconnected. All we had to work with was a really saucy wallpaper picture of a young, Latino couple cuddling up at someone’s Quinceañera – and in Phoenix, that could be anybody.

After rescuing the iPhone 4 from its watery grave and making some mild attempts at finding the owner, we felt like the iPhone was officially David’s. Finally, he could now enjoy a Retina display phone that can play games other than just Doodle Jump. It was a perfect ending for him, and even though David uses T-Mobile, we called up AT&T tech support and they unlocked the phone for us.

It was a happy ending for the iPhone 4 too, because now it doesn’t have to waste away at the bottom of a river full of algae, fish feces, and mysterious objects, instead of being cradled in the loving hands of someone who won’t be dumb enough to see if iPhones can swim.

I’m not sure what the moral of the story is. Maybe it’s, “don’t take your iPhone down the river with you hoping you’re gonna get some cool Instagram pictures out of it.” Or maybe it’s, “learn how to use ‘Find My iPhone”? I don’t know. Either way, if you’re ever in need of a new iPhone, you can always go find one down by the river.