I belong to a generation that did not lose telephones. The first ones I remember were known as crank phones (you needed to turn a handle to call the telephonist and tell her (I do not remember men doing this job!) the number you wished to talk to or, more recently, the dialling type. The arrival of the cell phone not only gradually made landlines obsolete but also placed phones, together with car and house keys and reading and sunglasses, among the losable items in our daily lives.
I do not like phones of any kind, and I admit not being very careful with cell phones misplacing mine quite often! Most of the time these are often only mild panics that disappear once the phone rings when called by Mabel and we reunite again.
The day before yesterday we went to Salta town in the morning. Mabel had a dentist appointment and I needed to get my hearing checked. After we completed our respective tasks, we met in town so that, together, we got some good (sugar-free) breakfast cereal. After that we drove to the shopping mall to get a few more things, including our laundry. The last stop was in Vaqueros, about 10km from our farm to get some of the great sausages that our butcher produces.
While waiting for Mabel to return with the susages, I noticed that my phone was not at its usual place in the car. As it has a tendency of falling from its place and hide under the seat I decided to search for it there, convinced that I would find it. When Mabel returned, I was undergoing a mild panic as the phone was not where I expected. A thorough inspection of the car and shopping bags produced no results. The same happened when we call my phone several times. Things were turning for the worse. The obvious conclusion was that I had left it in one of the shops we visited earlier or someone had taken it from my pocket while walking in town!
Before I go on with the story I need to clarify some technicalities. We have no cell phone network at the farm (being rather remote and surrounded by hills that interfere with the signal) but we do have a basic internet service that enables us the use of WhatsApp and Skype for phone calls. It is there where my MacBook resides from where I could look for my lost phone through the web.
Before we headed home, we decided to retrace our earlier movements in town and the shopping mall but we did not make any progress so, we drove to the farm to attempt to locate it from my computer. In its computers, tablets and phones, Apple places an app called “Find My” that is used when things like this happen. So, at the end of the afternoon we arrived at the farm and immediately “operation recovery” started!
After initial toothing problems I managed to get the app to work and found my phone. It was stationary at a shop in Salta town. I could see the shop (by using the street level view), but I failed to contact them by Skype to tell them that they had my phone. So, we decided to go back to Salta to visit the shop first thing in the morning.
After about an hour I looked again at the app´s map and, to my surprise, my phone was wandering through town! Spellbound, I saw it moving slowly for a while but then it gained momentum indicating that whoever had my phone walked for a while and then got either in a car or bus! I followed my cell phone journey for about an hour until it eventually stopped after nightfall. My phone had arrived to its new home! The fact that I knew where my phone was, made me somehow optimistic about recovering it.
The app indicated that my phone was “locked” and it offered me two options, to place a message so that the person could call me back or to apply the more drastic “erase” command. The latter would vaporize all my information from the phone if someone tried to unlock it. I chose the first option and placed a message, aware that we were not reachable at the farm, but hoping to get an SMS in Mabel´s phone when we were in town the next morning.
The news of the loss spread and friends and relatives recommended that I erase the phone and forget it as it would be impossible to recover it as the Police was unlikely to assist much. I took that into account but decided not to place the order to erase until the following day.
The morning brought a welcome heavy downpour as Salta had been going through a severe drought. However, the rain created an unexpected and serious drawback: the stream that we need to cross to leave the farm swelled and we could not cross it! That meant that we would not check for messages from the phone, increasing the risk, of someone breaking it. In view of this, I decided to place the “erase” command and, as recommended by friends, forget the phone and start planning for a replacement.
The day I lost my phone, and after my hearing exam I was recommended to start using a hearing aid on my right ear and this needed further tests to choose the right gadget. I tried to do this that same day but the place was busy so I could only do this three days later. I booked the appointment in the understanding that they would call me if there was a cancellation and they could see me earlier. While waiting for the stream to allow us to cross it, I decided to place a Skype call to them to see if an earlier appointment was possible.
I talked to the same receptionist I had seen who mentioned that she had called my cellphone several times to offer me an earlier appointment and that, eventually, a very concerned lady replied and informed her that she had found the phone on the street but could not contact its owner! Wisely the lady, called Eva, had left her cellphone number that the receptionist gave me.
From then on, it was all very easy! I called Eva and agreed to meet at a place in town where she returned my phone. I was very lucky!
Clearly, the world would be a great place if we would all be like Eva!