Metro-East Living

Lost phone causes anxious moments

It’s official! I’m him. That guy I’ve sworn I’d never become.

You know him. He looks down at his phone non-stop. Texts. E-mails. Facebook. Five minutes can’t pass without an update on his phone, from someone, somewhere. That Guy.

The same guy who used to scold his children for texting at the dinner table, now wipes ketchup from his own phone a lot.

Mr. Hypocrite.

Reminisces about the good old days when there were no cell phones.

“Remember when we could sneak away for a few hours and really, really sneak away?”

“Remember when that first mobile phone fit in a gym bag in the trunk?”

Now, he can’t go a few minutes without a quick glimpse, post or response.

Humbly, I came face-to-face with my phone issues on Labor Day when I temporarily lost my phone. I found it hours later, but not until I had totally wasted the holiday looking for it. I was relieved that I found my phone, but also embarrassed. Relieved that I didn’t lose all my phone contacts, photos, old texts and emails. Embarrassed at what a big fuss I had made.

Every day, I work in communications for a local utility. I get frequent business-related phone calls, e-mails and texts, around-the-clock. So I work off my phone more than most people. But I’ve become That Guy.

My Labor Day began with cutting the grass at the house in Belleville that’s for sale. About three-fourths done, I discovered my phone was not on my hip or in my pocket. I checked my car and house, but no phone.

I figured I left it at my new home in O’Fallon. I finished cutting the yard and drove home only to not find my phone there. Panic started. I went by the local Circle K where I stopped for coffee that morning. No phone there, either.

I drove back to my Belleville home and checked the yard again. Step to step. No phone. My behavior may have alarmed my former neighbors. But they’ve seen it before. There’s Mackin searching the yard again. What do you think he lost this time — phone, keys or wallet?

I went back and forth from O’Fallon to Belleville several more times. Went to the Circle K store twice. Asked clerks. No phone, sir. My blood pressure and anxiety rising. It was ridiculous.

It was Labor Day. Parades and barbecues. I was focused only on finding my lost cell phone. I’m not proud.

I went by the local Verizon store. They were helpful. We were able to use the “Find my iPhone” application which had been activated on my account. Through a satellite map, it showed my lost cell phone was at my Belleville home. I got in my car and drove from Fairview Heights to Belleville. Checked my yard for a beeping phone. No phone anywhere. I was muttering aloud to myself. Again.

To get to the end of this story: That evening after eating dinner with my wife, I went back to my Belleville home for one last look outside at dusk. There in the backyard, near the neighbor’s wooden fence, was my cell phone lying by itself, still in its black case. Because it was enclosed in its case, there were no rings or alarms. I swore to myself that I walked by that area of the yard at least a half dozen times. Whew. Immediately, I could feel the tension ease out of my shoulders.

What did I learn about my Labor Day phone fiasco?

It was humbling. I’m trying to stay more engaged with the world around me. I don’t want to be that guy I’d swore I never become. You know him. Disengaged. Phone focused. Fact is, he’s looking busy and important, but is usually reading sports or texts from his golf buddies, or watching cute pet videos on Facebook.

I need to step back. I was phoneless for one full day but had missed very little. No phone calls. A few spam emails. A couple of texts. My world continued to move forward. No emergencies.

As a result, a few personal pledges:

When working outdoors, the phone stays indoors.

I won’t blame the clerks at Circle K for taking my phone just because I liked QuikTrip stores a lot better.

No more phone during meals, conversations, or special events like weddings, funerals, meetings, or speeches.

No more texts or e-mails to a person in the same room as me.

There was also good news: I learned my smart phone is a lot calmer and smarter than I am. I’m more relaxed now because I know I can lose my phone and my lost phone can find itself without me getting myself all worked up.