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Woman drops phone on neighbour’s balcony. Rescue attempts are fruitless. Twitter fixates.

Toronto Star logo Toronto Star 2017-10-05 Victoria Gibson - Staff Reporter


In the vast expanse of Toronto — its cloud-scraping apartments holding together some two million residents — one woman reached out for the aid of her neighbours on Wednesday in the early hours of the morning.

But Liz Bertorelli’s door knocks went unanswered.

Here begins a millennial stock-type saga that has since captured social media with a mix of pity and amusement. Bertorelli has taken to Twitter to chronicle attempts to retrieve the cellphone she dropped from her balcony.

“What did I do tonight?” began the first dispatch at 4:48 a.m., an attached photo showing the mobile device — an unceremonious black rectangle — laying on the ground outside the unit below.

Liz Bertorelli dropped her iPhone 6 over the side of her Liberty Village balcony Wednesday. Almost immediately she started to use social mdia to document her attempts to get it back. Hilarity ensued.

Liz Bertorelli dropped her iPhone 6 over the side of her Liberty Village balcony Wednesday. Almost immediately she started to use social mdia to document her attempts to get it back. Hilarity ensued.
© RICHARD LAUTENS / TORONTO STAR
While drop-tests have become somewhat of a staple to measure the durability of new mobile devices (allocated amateur scientific measures like ‘waist height’ and ‘head height’ drops by savvy tech-testers) Bertorelli was less than pleased with the situation she’d found herself in.

“Watchin’ notifications roll in from afar is devastating.” The tweet caught fire with its audience, with over six thousand social media users interacting with the first message alone. Bertorelli continued to document the process using a phone borrowed from a friend.

The first note was lobbed over the balcony’s edge and landed, perfectly, on the neighbour’s outdoor table. The wind, however, had other ideas.

“Noooo, note blew off the table,” came the update at 1:06 p.m. As the hours rolled on, Bertorelli’s retrieval rouses became increasingly ridiculous.

“I’ve got a Swifter and duck tape [sic],” another read, followed by an image of all the long objects she could find, like a broom and a guitar. She mused, also, on a more philosophical meaning. “Thought: is this how Romeo and Juliette felt?”

Bertorelli tweeted out photos of drones, asking for internet advice on whether to engage the technology in her rescue pursuits. There were updates on the door-knocking attempts, to no avail. Her neighbours just weren’t home.

An ominous weather forecast photo warned of a storm coming. A friend arrived, and they drank to the electronic device’s looming fate. Bertorelli lowered a plastic bag on a string in an attempt to shield it from the rain.

“May the odds be ever in your favour, sweet prince,” she wrote at 4:40 p.m.

The string of tweets roused the aid of the internet, with users offering their best advice. Even Stephen Fry got in on the saga, chiming in that the tension was almost unbearable. Bertorelli replied back, pointing the famous Brit’s attention to the Trevor Project while he waited for an outcome.

The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ youth across the country. Their website cites 45 thousand calls to their “Lifeline” in one year. When eyes were on Bertorelli’s Twitter for the comical saga, she urged Twitter users to donate.

Screen image from Liz Bertorelli's Twitter account. © Provided by Toronto Star Screen image from Liz Bertorelli's Twitter account.

“I’m getting followers right now, so I might as well do something,” Bertorelli told the Star on Thursday afternoon. On the side of her day job, she said, she’s been a merchandiser for Toronto Pride through her apparel company, so the Trevor Project had always been on her radar.

Of course, there’s no way to know for sure what it was about Bertorelli’s plight that captured internet traction. Forbes has previously cited an average of 500 million tweets being posted each day, leaving the creation of a “viral” post somewhat of an elusive ideal.

But, while Bertorelli’s tongue remains firmly in cheek while documenting the saga — “I’m lucky enough to own and pay for a phone to begin with, and I’m obviously just making fun,” she told the Star, chuckling — she maintains that there’s something universal to her plight.

“Every single person who’s lucky enough to have some sort of device has feared or been in this situation before,” she said, noting that her phone was filled with photographs and contacts. “So from that perspective, it’s an emotional connection that we probably all share.”

At the time of publication, Bertorelli’s phone was still stranded.

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