1518: Typical Morning Routine
Waking up to an alarm can be annoying, especially when it is your partner's alarm, and they are slow to wake up and even then have difficulty figuring out how to turn the alarm off. This comic takes this situation to a ridiculous extreme, from whence the comic derives its humor, especially when paired with the title describing this situation as a "Typical Morning Routine". Of course the typical could refer only to the part of the "routine" until the phone is dropped into an air vent.
In this comic, Hairy with morning hair is shown using his phone as his alarm clock. Another unseen person is sharing the bed with Hairy and growing more irate as Hairy's alarm continues beeping.
Even simple actions like turning off a smartphone alarm can be easily fumbled by a just-awakened groggy person. In this case, Hairy accidentally exited the alarm app without stopping the alarm. In some OSes, simply exiting the app doesn't close it, requiring you to use the app switcher to close it.
After giving up on shutting down the alarm the usual way, Hairy, in annoyance, decides to remove the battery, which will disable the phone's entire operation. However, while trying to remove the battery in the dark, he accidentally drops his device down a floor air vent (most likely part of forced air central heating common in North America) next to the bed. While the vent is covered by a grille, it is apparently coarse enough (or perhaps missing a few pieces, creating a large hole) to allow the phone to pass through if it falls at a particular location and angle. Also, the vent apparently does not descend very far before bending, allowing the phone to survive the fall intact.
As of when this comic was posted, Randall uses both iOS and Android according to 1508: Operating Systems—although there is no reason to be certain that the character in this comic is using the same operating systems as Randall. However, the fact that Hairy tries to remove the battery strongly suggests it cannot be an iOS device, given that all iOS devices have non-removable batteries.
If he were a little handy, Hairy might be able to open the vent and retrieve the phone—or perhaps not, if the phone slid further into the ventwork or Hairy lacked the necessary tools. Instead of trying to physically recover the phone, Hairy attempts to remotely brick the phone from his laptop, permanently disabling all its functions (including the alarm app).
This attempt fails because Hairy had accidentally put the device into airplane mode before dropping his phone, thereby cutting off all wireless communications with the device and preventing any attempt at remote control. Airplane mode also has the unfortunate (in this situation) side effect of increasing the phone's battery life (though playing loud sounds incessantly should still limit it to a day or so, notwithstanding the pessimistic assessment of Hairy's companion).
Rather than finding a solution to the problem with the phone, Hairy proposes that they just move out instead.
Relevant for the title text: There is a semi-common logic puzzle involving a ping-pong ball falling down a pipe with a kink in it. In this puzzle, the solution is to pour water into the pipe until the ping-pong ball floats up.
In the title text, one of the two characters remembers this problem and attempts to apply it to this situation. Since phones do not float in water, a modified version is proposed using mercury instead. The phone would certainly float on mercury, as it is a very dense liquid (the only metal that is liquid at room temperature).
The extremely toxic nature of mercury makes pouring it into the air supply a very dangerous idea. Also the required amount of mercury would be extremely expensive. The weight of the mercury would also be substantial (13.5 kg/liter or 113 lb/gallon), and would likely break something in the air duct system. Both mercury and water could also push the phone further into the duct system instead of bringing it back. The end of the title text, declaring that the mercury idea would definitely make this situation better and not worse could be either a sarcastic commentary on these problems or a desperate attempt to bolster confidence that this extreme solution will work when everything else has failed.
Given that Hairy was willing to sacrifice the phone anyway (by attempting to brick it), he would probably be better off pouring water down the vent—it wouldn't bring the phone within reach, but it would disable and thereby silence it (unless the phone is completely waterproof (and the waterproofing layer wasn’t damaged by the fall), which most phones aren't, especially those where the battery can be removed).
Of course, Hairy probably wouldn't have gotten into this mess if he had not just been awakened brutally by a very loud alarm, making it difficult to think clearly (or, alternatively, if he just had a standard alarm clock that he could have unplugged or even a mechanical one that he could, say, hit with a hammer until it broke; or just flip the off switch).
- [The panel is completely black, with white text. Small lines indicate from where the two voices are coming, and also from where the alarm goes off. A small broken square surrounds the first word spoken.]
- Alarm: Bleep Bleep
- Voice (right): Urgh
- Voice (left): Your alarm is going off
- Voice (right): Huh?
- Voice (left): Make it stop.
- Voice (right) Urrgh
- [The panel is completely black, with white text. Small lines indicate from where the two voices are coming. Several small lines surrounds the last "sound" which is not spoken. The alarm noise is continued from the previous panel and continues over the top of the frame directly into the next panel.]
- Alarm: Bleep Bleep Bleep B
- Voice (left): Hit snooze.
- Voice (right): I'm trying. I closed the alarm app and I can't... I'll just pop out the battery.
- Voice (right): Whoops!
- [The lights have turned on so it is now a white panel with black text. The voice to the right came from Hairy with morning hair. He is leaning over the side of the bed, looking down the air vent through which he has dropped the phone. The other person to the left is not shown. The alarm noise (now coming from the air vent as visualized by the lines coming out of the vent) still continues from the previous panel and continues over the top of the frame directly into the next panel.]
- Alarm: eep Bleep Bleep Ble
- Off-Screen voice: Make it stop!
- Hairy: It... fell down the vent.
- [Hairy is sitting in his bed with a laptop. The person to the left is still off-screen. The alarm noise still continues from the previous panel and continues over the top of the frame out of the comic the the right.]
- Alarm: ep Bleep Bleep Bleep Ble
- Off-Screen voice: Can you brick it remotely?
- Hairy: Trying... I think I fumbled it into airplane mode?
- Off-Screen voice: The battery could last for weeks.
- Hairy: You know, maybe we should just move.
This comic follows a similar storyline to 349: Success and 530: I'm An Idiot, where Cueball, like Hairy here, encounters an issue and attempts progressively more absurd solutions. Hairy, himself, has also tried to go out of such a tangent before in 761: DFS.
There is a callback to this in the title text of 1946: Hawaii.
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