Lost and Found

This world of technology creates a new level of self-imposed anxiety.

Have you noticed that in your life?

Try leaving your cell phone at home the next time you go out for a day. Many would be hard-pressed to separate from their electronic devices even for an hour. It is a mini-computer for that perfect solution to a portable office. For others, it is merely a communication device when, and only if, they want to be conversing with the outside world.

We learn to synchronize our personal calendars with family members so everyone is aware of the whereabouts of their loved ones. Gone are the days of – “Let me check my social calendar (i.e., their spouse or partner).”  We use it for relaxation, quick-fix camera shots, stream data, personal hot spot, etc. There are many applications to download and the usefulness is limited only by our imagination. All of this is generally within our control and our preferences dictate the functional use of our little electronic anchors.

But what if we LOSE control of our devices?

I am not talking about the forced updates or the occasional drop in the toilet. No, I am talking about actually losing your cell phone.

Such was the anxiety I experienced recently during an afternoon movie outing…

The theater had upgraded leather recliners. I have watched movies in these luxury seats before and agree that they are quite comfortable when it is fully extended. We were happy to get out of the local heat that day and into a cool theater.

Bzzzz…. My seat was fully reclined and I was ready to watch the movie. It was a very enjoyable film and before I realized it, the credits were scrolling on the big screen. Getting up from the chair after resetting it to the upright position, we proceeded out of theater number six. We talked about the movie as we strolled towards the lobby.

I touched my pockets to confirm my possessions – keys (check), wallet (check), cell phone (MISSING)!!

I was fairly certain that I did not leave my cell phone at home and was hoping that perhaps, I left it in my car. I tried to remain calm and decided to go back to theater number six and check under my assigned chair. In the meantime, my wife went to the car to look for the phone.

There was plenty of time before the next viewing so I informed the attendant that I may have left my phone on the chair. He helped me search under the chair and in the crevices. Soon, the assistant manager arrived and I explained that my phone may have slipped out of my pocket during the movie. We searched everywhere but could not find it. He suggested that I file a lost & found report with Customer Service as someone may find it later.

Customer Service was very friendly and she assured me that many guests have lost their phones in their theaters though she cannot promise that they will find it. Filling out their form, my mind became anxious as my phone IS my portable office with a lot of private and encrypted information stored on the chipset. I am glad that I backed up the most important data to the cloud so that if my phone was ever lost or stolen, I could purchase a new one and download my latest backup onto this new device.

My son and I proceeded to the car. My wife was approaching us and said that she did not find my phone in the vehicle. Then she remembered an app that we both had access to in case our phones were ever lost. Even though it was in silent mode (including no vibration), the device would make a loud pinging sound if I used the app to locate my phone.

I borrowed her phone to use the app to try to locate my phone. My son came with me to be my second pair of eyes and ears. The location services was active and stationary. We were represented by the moving blue dot. We walked towards the red pin indicator on the app as I kept pressing the button to “ping” my phone. We listened carefully for any sound but it was hard to hear with the parking lot noise.

Then my insane suspicions grew!

First, there was a Jeep Cherokee double-parked near the red-pin indicator. Two men were in the vehicle  looking at their phones. Could one of the phones be mine? These two looked a bit shady (according to my heighten anxiety) so I casually walked nearer to their open-window vehicle while pressing the ping button. Without creating a scene, I listened for the ping from my phone while these two men looked up at me. I kept walking as I did not hear a sound from their vehicle.

My son and I wandered the parking lot as the red indicator seemed to be moving near us. It was the side of the theater building but we did not see anybody walking around. There was a vehicle with their engine turned on (smoked windows). I casually walked near the car as I pressed the ping button – no sound.

We searched the low-lying ivy plants but did not find anything either (I kept pressing the ping button). Then we walked towards the Starbucks location and noticed an employee sitting against the wall looking at a phone. I pressed the ping button while I motioned to my son to walk closer to him (without raising suspicion). No sound!

Then I saw that the app had a feature where I could enter a message – “If found, call (nnn) nnn-nnnn”. I typed my wife’s cell number and sent it with the hope that someone will see this.

Within ten seconds, my phone was calling me. I answered it but no one was on the line.

Hello. Hello? Hello!!! No response.

I terminated the call. Then another incoming call from my phone. I answered it and a voice said that they found my phone. They are waiting for me at the theater. I told my son and we walked back to the Customer Service desk inside the lobby.

When we arrived at the Customer Service desk, the workers and security guard were standing around making idle chat. I asked them where my phone was and they said that they did not find my phone.

Is this a mean joke???

The Customer Service rep told me to call my phone so I did. The other person answered and I asked where he was located – “I’m outside the theater in a white tee-shirt.” As I turned to walk outside, I saw a young teenager on MY PHONE!!

Praise the Lord!!! It was a bit scratched up and he said that he found it wedged in the frame of the chair. He was stunned as my phone kept pinging and they could not figure out “where” the sound was coming from.

I thanked him for finding my phone and shaking his hand, we went our separate ways.

I was so happy to have my phone back and yes, I forgot to give him money to pay for some movie snacks as a small reward for doing the right thing. I felt so terrible about this afterward as my mind was not thinking straight. I hope that by some strange fate, I would see him again someday and if not, I will make sure to pay it forward somehow. I will know the right time to do this.

Lesson learned: The next time I sit in one of those recliner seats at a theater, I will place the phone on the serving tray in front of me! I will also try to remember to instill a reward mechanism for a good deed.

In the meantime, the phone case was slightly scratched but my phone is intact and my pride swallowed.

Self-Inflicted Technology Anxiety (my own acronym – SITA)!!!

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