Never Leave Me to My Own Devices

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Arriving the recommended two hours prior to departure always seems like such a virtuous accomplishment. I enter the TSA PreCheck lane eager to get through security so that I can grab one last bite of Colorado cuisine before boarding my plane. Maybe even a bison burger. I’ve never eaten a bison burger but it feels like a Colorado thing to do. I have my boarding pass on my device for the first time ever though, admittedly, I’m a little apprehensive about this feature. I’m still very fond of paper. I like my paper calendar, paper books, and the paper boarding pass that I hold, visibly noting my place in line, so that other Southwest Airlines travelers can assemble themselves in their positions with just a glance. I am always delighted to see how civilized and seamless this process is.

The security line is short. I place my iPhone face up in the bin marveling at the automated boarding pass still visible on the screen. In goes the coat, the scarf, and my pocketbook (which should be holding the iPhone). I bet you know where I’m going with this. I’m traveling with my cousins Joe and Chuck who are making their way through a much longer security line that winds its way up and down and around the Denver airport. I have plenty of time to get to my gate but old habits die hard. I grab my coat and scarf, my pocketbook, and my carry-on bag and hustle my way to the aerotrain. I open my pocketbook to check the time. On my phone.

My phone!

I see that phone staring up at me from the plastic bin. I’m sure it was snickering. I’m also sure it is long gone. I make my way back up the escalator, feeling the dread in my gut, eager to communicate my woes to the attendants who are busy frisking travelers and discarding canisters of hair spray, mouthwash, and various toilet articles that clearly don’t meet the 3.4 ounce limit. Even in my duress I am amused by the indignation I witness when a disgruntled passenger sees her hair spray tossed into the garbage can. Like, how many years have we been following these guidelines? But I digress.

My iPhone (did I mention it’s a 6+) is nowhere to be found. Not in my pocketbook. Not in the bins. Not in Lost & Found. Just the other day I was marveling at all that my iPhone holds. Particularly my photos. I pretty much stopped using my camera altogether when I saw what I could accomplish with my iPhone. ‘The cloud’ remains a mystery to me so I am assuming every photo I own is now gone.

Over thirteen THOUSAND photos. Gone.

Some of them layered. Photographic experiments I have been playing with in my never ending search for creative outlets that feed me and tickle me to no end. Gone.


I make my way into the train, shoulders slumped, mind spinning, wondering how I’m going to connect with my cousins who are most likely texting me this very minute.

On my phone.

I communicate my distress to complete strangers on the aerotrain who chime in with a cacophony of suggestions. They nod their heads in sympathy. They know how much we rely on our devices. “Call AT&T and cut off your service,” says one helpful traveler. “Use the ‘Find Your iPhone’ feature,” says another. “Contact Lost & Found,” suggests an elderly gentleman sitting beside me. (He, of course, doesn’t own a cell phone.)

The sympathetic look on their faces bring my shoulders down a notch further. I’m sure someone is looking at my phone at this very moment gleefully thinking, iPhone 6+ … big money. Black Market.

My ‘action absorbs anxiety’ brain kicks in. I leave the train with a spring in my step determined to find my cousins. I position myself in a seat between my gate and theirs hoping to intercept them as they search the airport wondering why I am not answering their texts. I take out my computer (yet another device) and use Facebook Messenger to contact my sister in law hoping she can reach my husband (who is not on Facebook, or any device for that matter) to ask him to direct AT&T to turn off service to my phone. I’m not sure why that is so important to me except that it feels like I am DOING something to ease my predicament.

The cousins show up. We use Chuck’s phone to locate the ‘Find Your iPhone’ feature. I key in my Apple ID. My cousin Chuck is a retired law enforcement agent; I imagine him flashing his badge as we approach the culprit who lifted my phone. We follow the blinking light, thinking we’re hot on the trail of the suspect. We watch the little dot jump from Java Juice to Caribou Jerky (only in Colorado) to … are you sure it’s not in one of your bags? (wishful thinking) … to an airport security officer who looks at the glowing dot, identifies the location, and calls Lost & Found.

Turns out airport security officers have more clout than plain old passengers. My phone is, indeed, at Lost & Found (most likely beeping because you can also play a sound from the ‘Find Your iPhone’ feature. (Who knew?) I make my way back to my phone and we are reunited. I feel like I’ve been reunited with a long lost member of my family. I hug the phone and place it lovingly into its special compartment inside my pocketbook. I make a mental note to self: Figure out ‘the cloud’ and back up your photos.

All is well. Except, when I arrive in DC I discover the airlines lost my luggage. It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t matter.

Postscript: Know your dots.

“Sue Ann when I opened the Find My iPhone app, l logged out and you logged in. That’s what allowed us to finally see where it was. The app did do a good job of narrowing down your phone’s location which was recognized by the Airport Security Officer who had a good understanding of the airport layout. The blue dot that you and I were chasing was my phone, your phone shows up as the gray colored icon. So we were chasing ourselves! In retrospect I give the app a grade of 95 the operator a grade of 70.”
~ Cousin Chuck



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14 Responses to Never Leave Me to My Own Devices

  1. Cathy March 19, 2016 at 1:23 pm #

    Oh my, I feel your pain – I had a strange message when I tried to open my email the other day – something about “rules” having been changed – and wouldn’t let me in. Did I worry about the hundreds of client emails and business inspiration I’ve curated so carefully in their own folders? No, I thought of the dozen personal notes that have touched me in one way or another.

    Backing up and feeling grateful for the ease of technology while acknowledging the vulnerability it opens us too.

    So relieved that this story has a happy ending!

    • Sue Ann Gleason March 19, 2016 at 2:41 pm #

      Yes, Cathy, yes, I think about that all the time, how much of my life (and my business) is contained in these devices. She says as she now ponders her Dropbox. *sigh*

  2. Mary Jane Mees March 19, 2016 at 1:28 pm #

    That comment from Chuck was the frosting on the cupcake. Great story Sue Ann. We are constantly checking ourselves on this trip to see if we have everything..

    • Sue Ann Gleason March 19, 2016 at 2:43 pm #

      Oh yes! That’s where ‘teamwork’ is such a gift! I’ll bet that wallet is tucked away securely, too. *wink*

  3. Russ March 19, 2016 at 3:17 pm #

    I’ve never heard of the app, but I’m installing Where’s My Droid right now on my phone. Thanks for the tip!

    • Sue Ann Gleason March 19, 2016 at 3:22 pm #

      See? I knew this post would serve! Learn from my mistakes. xxoo

  4. april March 19, 2016 at 5:19 pm #

    i’m trying to figure out how you can store so many photos on your iphone?! at any rate, i regularly download all of my photos to my laptop (when i hit about 1500 or so). safe, backed up, and less likely to lose. (although digital is still not my favorite – it felt much safer when i could hold my photos in my hand.)

    so very glad to hear your misadventure worked out well in the end. i know i’m quite dependent on my own amazing device, my little iphone friend.

    • april March 19, 2016 at 5:20 pm #

      and i have that app on my iphone too. (so far i haven’t had to use it. fingers crossed.)

    • Sue Ann Gleason March 20, 2016 at 7:03 am #

      The storage on these phones is pretty phenomenal, April. It’s kind of like having a portable hard drive in your pocketbook. I am now a believer in ‘the cloud.’ Learning something new every day!

  5. Carina Gräsbeck March 20, 2016 at 3:49 am #

    Oh, this was chilling indeed. If I did not know (I had to cheat and look how it went) I would almost not have dared to read. This is such a beautiful reminder of many things. Connecting the dots, staying calm, not giving up, dependency and yes, the importance of backup (in more than one respect).

    The lovely thing with your story is that I have been in that same airport at Denver! The only ever time I´ve been to the US was when me and my friend in April 2012 attended an event in Denver, Colorado (LOL)!

    And I vividly remember the long security queue and the aerotrain and how spacious and clean everything was. You brought me back there for some seconds and that felt good.

    • Sue Ann Gleason March 20, 2016 at 7:05 am #

      It’s a great airport, Carina. I have spent a lot of time in that airport over the years. Maybe you’ll visit the easy coast some day. Dulles International Airport is pretty awesome, too. *hint hint*

  6. Penny March 21, 2016 at 10:23 am #

    I live in dread of losing my phone! I think i would probably have fainted. You and your cousins did well! (I love that you have a cousin called Chuck x)

  7. Laura March 24, 2016 at 2:48 pm #

    I’ve felt that very same sinking feeling, knowing that my phone was gone. And the photos on it as well as contacts and other irreplaceable information.

    And like the Aesop myth of our time (“Location! Location! Location! The Story of the Hard Drive that Failed with no Backup”), I learned the heart-wrenching way that everything on my phone should be up in the cloud. Now I could lose either my phone or my laptop without losing anything important other than the hardware itself, but I got to that destination wearing the scars of lost battles.

    Glad everything turned out okay for you! And that you got your luggage back as well. Your retelling of the story was entertaining!

    • Sue Ann Gleason March 24, 2016 at 2:56 pm #

      I am now a believer in that pie in the sky. LOL I do, however, need to be more mindful about backing up all that I hold on my desktop. Thank you for the reminder, Laura! xxoo

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