image source: flydenver.com
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! is.not.in.its.compartment.
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