The Loss of Everything or How I Lost my Phone
I don’t have to preach to you about how phones aren’t really phones anymore. I see how many people read my blog on their mobile devices, I know how many of my friends are addicted to Scramble with Friends, I know how many arguments we avoid at the pub because someone can just Google “Tootie” and come up with Kim Fields…
So you already know that feeling when you can’t find your phone. You want to reach for your phone to help you find your phone. You check the nightstand, again, and again, as if the first 5 times you looked you might have missed it on that 1x1 foot square surface. You can’t imagine not having it so it is simply incomprehensible that you don’t have it now.
Then you find it. You have someone dial it and hear its muffled ring or buzzing in the other room, crying like a puppy that can’t get itself out from under the newspapers it was playing in. The relief and joy at seeing its glowing face is mixed with chiding yourself for being so reckless and the promise of every addict that you will never let it happen again.
Until you really lose your phone. Then there’s no happy reunion, only a growing dread. Which brings me to my recent loss.
Oregon has a 5 cent bottle deposit on beverage containers; as we’re not exactly teetotalers in our house, we usually have a few beer bottles come recycling day. Rather than lugging them down to the store, standing in line for a machine and then standing in line again to get a $1.35 for my efforts, I separate out the returnables into a sack and leave it on the lawn for the guys who troll the hood on recycling day for returnable bottles -- it helps out the bottle scavengers and so they don't have to go rummaging in our recycling bins.
We have a stack of containers that we use to sort recycling during the week -- cans and plastic in one, glass in another, and returnables in the bottom. My phone must have slipped out of my shirt pocket at some point in my grunting efforts as I was leaning over and pulling bottles from the container to the paper sack. And I only noticed my phone was missing after someone had collected our offering of returnable bottles.
And he apparently collected a Samsung Galaxy S4 as well.
Somewhere out there, a guy who needs money enough to scavenge bottles an cans was sorting through his haul and found a slim, white device which, purchased new, was worth around 14,000 cans or bottles. I picture a scene directed by Terry Gilliam with some grubby, toothless homeless guy picking up my phone with his dirty, fingerless gloved hands smiling from toothless ear to toothless ear.
The first thing I did when I realized I had really, truly lost my phone was call AT&T -- no, they couldn’t find it (apparently you have to turn on some service for that before you lose your phone) but they could block it so no one could use it.
Then I started changing all my passwords. My imaginary bum probably couldn’t get into my phone because I have a screenlock password, but, honestly, it’s not impossible to get past those things. And if he had… all my talk about how convenient these things are neglects how convenient your phone might be to someone else.
Quick inventory of stuff on my phone that stays logged in: Email (work and personal), Amazon (tied to my bank account), Skype (with money on balance for land-line dialing), a couple airline apps (with usable miles and upcoming tickets), access to my entire company document library, and then all those social things like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn… Yep, someone could do a lot of damage by logging into my phone.
But, more than that, I’m cut off if I don’t have my phone. I can’t check my email, call anyone, check in for my flight, review documents… It’s like not having a car in LA, it’s like losing your wallet AND your address book. It’s a huge step towards non-personhood.
So dropping $450 on a new phone wasn’t even a question (no, I don’t have phone insurance -- separate story). I got set up on my new phone amazingly fast, and got on my flight the next day, buying my coffee with my Starbucks app along the way and re-entering society as smoothly as possible.
A little footnote to this story: a week later someone turned my Samsung in to the AT&T store. Funny thing was the store they turned it into was on the other side of town, but very close to one of those gadget stores that sells used phones. I’m guessing there was a brief conversation at the gadget store that included phrases like, “the right thing to do…” and “highly illegal” but Markie prefers to believe that there is simply good in people and someone found my phone and returned it as best they can.
So now I'm in this odd position. It's like you're sure your dog is dead so you got a new puppy. I have TWO very expensive, very functional lifelines to the universe. Do I keep the new one or (as the guy at the AT&T store suggested) sell it when I'm in Europe next? Do I carry around both phones like some drug dealer covering his dirty life with a burner phone?
I don't really know; I'm probably just still in shock at letting my phone slip into the dirty underside of life. Even if it did come back to me, the emotional scars are there and it's going to take time to figure out how to live my life with two phones.
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Be sure to see my blog over at Cloudenity. This week's topic:
Identity Isn't Just for Users Anymore