I’ve dropped several phones in the river. Without cell phones, there are many days I would not have been able to go. Got to stay in contact if there is a magazine at the printer – like today. Our recruiting issue is being printed and there could be decisions that have to be made if something goes wrong. (That hardly ever happens.)
I’ve ruined maybe three phones by dropping them in the river. The best came during the search to replace Bobby Petrino as coach. We were nearing the final stages of the hire. I didn’t think it would be that day – and it wasn’t – so I broke away from my laptop to fish for about three hours.
I had begun to use a ziplock bag to protect the phone in case I went down in my waders. The phone began to go off. So I walked to a large gravel bar in the middle of the river. I got my phone out to check text messages, voice mail and email.
The phone slipped from my hand as I pulled it out of the baggie. It went straight down and between my legs was a small puddle. I had not noticed it since I was in the middle of the gravel bar. The puddle wasn’t much bigger than a footprint – probably what it was to produce a small low spot and hold some water when the generation levels fell two hours earlier. Splash. That’s right where the phone went.
The phone was toast. I did all the rice in the bag tricks with no luck and had to get a new one. Fortunately, I had an old back up that allowed me to continue to work until I could get back to Fayetteville.
The other ruined phones came about when I slipped in the river and my waders got wet inside. There is a compartment that is supposed to be water tight – if you seal it correctly. You don’t know if you have sealed it correctly until you get wet! Twice I didn’t get it tight.
Phones give me the freedom to do many things and work from unique places like a duck blind or a river. But you also have to learn to tell your co-workers that you are going to be out of reach and just turn the dang thing off.
My wife hates my phone. There are group texts between Matt, Dudley, Scottie and Richard that I’m on that hit late at night. Mostly, I don’t need to know some of it, but then there are times that I can lend a hand and it’s good that I’m included.
My favorite story about freedom because of a phone came during the Houston Nutt era when I was allowed to do live radio reports from practice. It was during Sarah’s senior year of college and I vowed to get to a few of her soccer games.
I told Chuck Barrett that I was going to miss a practice report because of a day game on a Thursday. I was going to drive to Tahlequah to watch Sarah. I missed all of her Saturday games that fall, for obvious reasons. So this was one of two or three chances to see her play that last year.
Chuck said, “Just go to the game. You roam the sidelines anyway. We won’t say where you are, just that you are giving a report about the game this weekend.”
And, he was masterful in his introduction. In the background, there would be whistles from the soccer referee. It sounded realistic, like a practice. Then, Chuck said, “Paint the picture, Clay, tell us what you see.” And, I gave my best image. I said, “There goes Darren McFadden, his ability to cut in the open field, then stiff arm a safety is a marvelous thing to see.” And, a whistle blew, and I said, “But Coach Nutt does not want those defenders to touch him. You heard the whistle.”
Chuck said, “As always, we feel like we are right at practice with you, Clay. Thanks for painting the picture.” I felt a little bad for doing that. But I blame it on Chuck. I tried to beg out of it that day and just enjoy watching Sarah play.