Tools, Apps and Gadgets
I Lost My iPhone
Pure and all-encompassing panic set in when I lost my iPhone. What kind of monster am I?
I went for a three-mile walk in the neighborhood, and when I got back into my yard I didn’t feel the familiar heaviness in the pocket of my jacket. It took a few seconds for the concept of iPhone MIA to travel up to my brain, jump across synapses and formulate a plan of action. It was as if I was operating on a ten second delay. The plan of action it came up with? Panic.
Why isn’t it in my pocket?! Where is it?! What should I do?! Did I even have it to begin with?! Should I call someone?! Oh, that’s right, I can’t! I HAVE NO PHONE!
My gastrointestinal tract turned on itself, in that way it had when I lost sight of my then seven-year-old son, Angus, at the zoo. I had panicked then too — my mind spun several worst case scenarios into a category-five parental disaster that I would forever replay over and over and over, becoming more negligent with every replay. But then, blue skies and rainbows broke through the storm of guilt when I saw Angus walking hand in hand with Uncle Randy, conveniently a zookeeper.
When had my iPhone become as precious to me as my child? I’d save that analysis for later. Right now, I had to find it, or at least try. I grabbed my bike and became one of those people I hate — an adult who rides a bicycle on the sidewalk. I stopped people. Asked them if they might have seen a phone laying in a gutter? On the grass? In an alley? No, they said. They felt bad for me, they said. They were glad they weren’t me.
“Bummer,” said my across-the-alley neighbor, Victor. “And you tried to find it?”
“Of course I tried to find it!” I blurted out, practically in tears. Precious seconds ticked by. My brain defaulted to a mental movie of my defenseless phone being defiled in some drug den by teenage Russian hackers who were depleting the contents of my checking account — all $27.16!
“No, I mean, like an app. On your computer.”
I ran upstairs and turned on my computer. I knew I had an app, but I didn’t know what the icon looked like, so I had to waste more time doing an internet search, and then finally…
I saw a gray dot representing my phone. It was static. A few blocks away.
Okay, so it wasn’t in a car. It wasn’t moving. It should still be there. Maybe I had missed it on my initial ride because it was buried in a shallow grave of litter?
But even when I went out again, I couldn’t find it. I ran back home. Checked the map on my computer. The gray dot was still there. Still not moving. But I’d been standing where the dot was. Why didn’t I see any phone?
Because it was inside a house.
The map on which the gray dot was pulsating did not list any addresses. Only street names and numbers. So I had to transpose it onto another map, then triangulate the address based on landmarks: the boarded-up corner store, then the alley, then one, two, three houses in, on the southwest side. I grabbed my bike. Did a quick ride by. The house had bars on the windows. The front door boasted a This House Protected by Smith and Wesson sign. I told this to Victor, who was still in the alley, washing his car.
“You want me to go with you?” he said.
“No. You’re young. You’ve got kids. If you get shot, I’ll feel really bad and besides, I’m on Medicare.”
I have a phobia when it comes to knocking on random front doors. Years of therapy has traced it back to Girl Scout Cookie selling failures. I stood on the sidewalk. Took a deep breath. Told myself I was a 65-year-old woman, not a nine-year-old who felt diminished by super-seller Tracy Saltzer.
I counted 13 steps up to the front door. An omen? The small front porch had a fun-house tilt. I stood off to one side, like cops do on TV, and knocked firmly, just enough to be heard and hopefully not interpreted as aggressive.
The door opened a crack. “Yeah?” The voice was raspy.
I cleared my throat. “Um, hi!…I, uh, lost my phone and according to my computer…it’s in this house,” I said, sounding upbeat and friendly and then tacked on, “…no judgements!”
“I don’t know nothin’ about no phone, lemme ask my roommate.”
The door shut. I stood there. Off to side. Hoping.
It opened. She looked like Amy Winehouse (towards the end). She had extensive neck tattoos…and she had my phone!
“Yeah…I was trying to figure out, like, how to…like…but I couldn’t.”
“Oh. My. God! My phone! Thank you! Thank you so much!”
“I found it on…thirty-second street,” She handed it to me. I took it and gave it a hug, and then I wanted to hug Amy but, COVID, so we elbow bumped. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t walked down thirty-second street –what mattered was I had my phone back.
“Faith in humanity restored!” I yelled back to her from the sidewalk.
“I, uh, took some pictures,” she yelled back.
I put it into the UV light bag for a cleanse. I thanked the gods and changed all my passwords. She took photos?
It was a panorama. Syringes. Rubber tourniquets. Cotton balls. Mounds of cigarette butts. Hair spray. Rubbing alcohol. Piles of clothing. Mattresses. My first thought? “My poor phone!” My second thought? Why had she documented this?
She could have taken a photo of anything. The backyard. The street. I didn’t know what I should do. What could I do? Call someone? Who? And then what? I told my husband all about my day. I showed him the photo of syringes etc. He had the same reaction as I had — a shudder, then a sigh of resignation.
I felt bad. Who were these people? How did this happen? Since I was in possession of this knowledge, did I have a responsibility to act? I asked my retired police officer father. His advice? Delete it. As if I could. As if deleting it would delete the problem? I didn’t delete it. I kept it as a reminder because, if I’m being honest, just like those people who I had asked about my phone, who were glad they weren’t me, I look at it when I feel like my life sucks, and despite whatever had led to Amy’s circumstances, she did give me my phone back and restored my faith in humanity but, my faith in myself took a hit. “My poor phone?!” What kind of a monster am I?