Like most of you, I use my phone as far more than just a phone.
In fact, “phone” is actually a bit of a misnomer. It’s the Swiss Army knife of technology. Come to think of it, calling a Swiss Army knife is kind of inaccurate as well. If you went around calling it your Swiss Army corkscrew, people would look at you funny.
Anyway, like you, that little sucker is one important piece of machinery in my life, as it holds my calendar, my contacts, access to all of world’s knowledge and a game that allows me to play Scrabble with people all over the world, including someone who just quite strategically played the word “eobiont.” Normally, I would tip my cap to this person and salute their extremely vast vocabulary, but based on previous words that particular opponent has played, I think their phone is also used to cheat at Scrabble.
So the point is, the phone has become a critical part of my existence, whether I like it or not. Normally, the phone is always at arm’s reach, and it a rare occasion to hear me say, “Where’s my phone?”
So of course, the other night I found myself saying, “Where’s my phone?” That question was not answered, as everyone else in the house was asleep. I began walking and checking usual places — did one of the kids swipe it to play a game on the couch? Did I plug it into a wall charger and forget about it? Did I set it in the fridge as I have done on at least two other occasions? Nope. Nothing.
I went upstairs and got my wife’s phone and began calling my number. I went from room to room, calling the number and then standing in the silence, hoping to hear a ring tone or, at the very least, a buzz. Nothing.
Room to room I went without success. I went out on the back deck where I had been earlier in the evening. I even called from inside my car.
I began to retrace my steps over the course of the evening. I went to every place I had been over the past few hours and repeatedly called my phone. I went into the garage where I had been packing up Christmas boxes for recycling the next day. I called and listened. The garage stayed quiet.
My wife did much of our Christmas shopping this year online, so we had roughly 8 billion cubic feet of cardboard and paper to haul out. I walked out to the pile by the street and dialed my number.
I looked from box to box. Bzzzzzzzzzz.
Eventually I saw a faint light beneath some paper in a box that also included several empty shirt boxes.
I retrieved my phone from the box on the side of the road and breathed a sigh of relief that I had not called off the search until morning, as the recycling folks are usually here and gone long before the kids are even off to school.
In doing my investigative work post-recovery, I realized that I had my phone in the front pocket of my sweatshirt while I was taking out the recycling and it had slipped out into the box.
But tragedy was averted, and my multi-functional tool is now safely at arm’s length again. I’ll make sure to secure it better in the future. After all, it serves so many functions. Without it, I may not know that “eobiont” is “a hypothetical chemical precursor of a living cell.” And that some people cheat at Scrabble.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C., and now lives in Charleston. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.