My Kingdom for a Toothpick

I woke up the other day and my phone was on 2%. I thought I had charged it the night before, but maybe not? In fact, the last week or two the lightning cable hasn’t been sitting right, and time and again I’ve found the phone was not actually charging when I assumed it was. Drat.

Anyway, I shuffled downstairs and plugged the phone in….and nothing; 2% juice and the lightning bolt refused to show. Dread.

I’m back on the road in a few days and a smartphone has become a indispensable tool for tethering anywhere, managing tickets, taking photos, restarting servers, checking Slack—did I mention taking photos? Can you imagine all this drama coming from someone who didn’t have a phone until three years ago; the transformation is complete, I am a middle-aged iZombie.

I’ve broken my share of laptop and smart phone screens over the last few years, but a lightning port was new territory. I just assumed I crushed it on my recent journey to the UK fighting off the hordes of foreigners, and was beginning to worry it was beyond the pale. I tried cleaning it out with the sharp end of a steak knife, but no dice. So, I went online to see what the process might be for replacing a lightning port.

Jesus! This video comment says it all, “… and then go down to the store to buy a new [phone].” For the iPhone 7+ you literally have to remove everything to get to the lightning port. I was getting discouraged. There’s a local shop for fixing phones and I was resigned to bring it in, but turns out it was a national holiday and everything was closed. Damn, damn.

Cutting it too close, and my phone was bricked without anyway to charge it—a remarkably frustrating feeling I had not felt until then.

So, I kept searching online and I found this quick tips video from CNET featuring the old reliable toothpick fix. I was skeptical, but it just so happens I co-habitate with some badass cooks and a toothpick is always in reach. I asked Tommaso, my trusty assistant in all things technical, to get the toothpick so we could try a last ditch surgery. And after some digging we pulled out a decent clump of lint that was, indeed, preventing the cable from making contact and foiling any charge.

What was craziest of all was the relief I felt when the phone finally started charging again, I knew I would become dependent once I broke down and gave in to the phone culture, but I don’t think I fully understood just how much it would cost.

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3 Responses to My Kingdom for a Toothpick

  1. Alan Levine says:

    I’ve had this problem all the time with lightning cable connection in my iPhone 6. I’m always juggling jiggling flipping to make a connection. I’ve done the air spray and cleaning with alcohol. But often a toothpick treatment pulls out wads of lint, . Never had the issue with the old style wide connector,

    Don’t leave/be home without the pick.

  2. Kate Green says:

    I love how you were ‘skeptical’ about a toothpick. I didn’t have two thoughts about it before jamming on in there. haha.

    Works a charm.

  3. Doesn’t the use of a toothpick constitute a circumvention of a Technical Protection Mechanism aimed at preserving the business model of irreparable devices? Sure, if you own the device _and_ can manufacture your own toothpicks, go nuts. But people openly selling toothpicks? Probably on the Dark Web? That’s just encouraging rampant piracy, and has to stop.

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