Friday, 7 August 2015

Never really mislaid

I had a moment of panic a while ago. I couldn't find my phone!

This was most unusual. The realisation that my phone was missing came late in the afternoon, when I was back home following a day out.

Normally, when I get home, I take my phone out of my bag, and lay it flat close by, whether plugged in to recharge or not. Otherwise my phone is in my hand or somewhere in the same room, where my eyes can see it. I'm paranoid about knowing exactly where it is, and at night always place it next to my pillow. Sounds over the top? Well, if ever there were a night-time emergency, this way I'd have my phone with me - as a torch, a camera, a vital communication device, and many other handy things, all rolled into one. When you consider that I live on my own, and must cope with everything unaided, I don't think that sleeping with a phone (or should I say, 'a little computer'?) is carrying precautions too far!

Nor am I anyway the sort to mislay gadgets. I have a long track record of taking care of my stuff, and not being casual about what I do with it. Of course when I was working - when I was commuting - I did lose the odd umbrella, paperback or pair of gloves on the train. But that would be, on average, only one item every five years or so. And from the year 2000, I'm pretty certain that I lost nothing. In that year I bought my first PDA, the 'electronic organiser' that eventually morphed into the smartphone of today. It was my diary, my to-do list, my notebook, my address book. It was extraordinarily useful and became utterly indispensable, and I treated it like the Crown Jewels - it cost enough, after all. It was never a device that I'd leave on a table and walk away from. I consciously schooled myself never to do this. The habit of taking great care of my PDA, and then an ever-more-sophisticated series of phones, endured. It survived retirement.

I am very phone-aware then. I may forget, for instance, why I've come into a room, but I can tell you where my phone is. So apparently mislaying it came as a shock. It was so unlike me.

When out and about, my phone has its special place in my handbag - always that compartment. I checked my bag, all parts of it, then did the same again. No joy. Nor was it clearly in sight anywhere in the lounge, bedroom or study.

Next step - to cast my mind back over the day's events and locations. A forensic reconstruction. Where had I been today?

Hmm. Lunch with Jo and Sue at Bill's in Lewes. We'd eaten at an outside table. Plenty of passers-by. I remembered all three of us arranging our bags so that they couldn't be lifted or rifled by a street thief with deft fingers. Street thieves know full well that a woman's handbag nearly always contains cash and credit cards - and a phone. The very things they can use immediately, before any loss is noticed. We were all highly aware of the danger. And in fact no thefts occurred, because we adjourned to Sue's place and all three of us had reason to refer to our phones there, seated around a garden table in the sunshine, drinking tea, admiring the view of the South Downs, and throwing a ball for Sue's young dog Molly.

So my phone was still with me up to that point.

What happened after that? I drove Jo home, came in for a cool drink, chatted with her husband, and then talked a bit with Jo's elderly mum, out of her nursing home for the evening, as they were all going to attend a barbecue on Ditchling Common. Nothing happened to make me get my phone out. So I must have brought it home.

So where was it? What happened as I arrived home? neighbour Toby was watering his front garden. I'd gone over to him, and asked whether he and his partner Charlotte were still interested in having a cleaner. Not my lady, someone else - Maddy - who lived locally. What exactly had I said to Toby, and had then done? I'd said I would give him her phone I had to go indoors...look up the number on my phone...write it down on the kitchen notepad...then dash outside again, and give Toby the bit of notepaper with the number on it. So, logically, the phone might be in the kitchen, a place I never left it as a rule.

And so it was. What a relief!

It just shows that habits are really no guide at all as to where lost things should be. And yet I've often heard people say to me that such-and-such a thing can't be anywhere else than where it usually is, because that's where they always leave it. And they get positively shirty with me when I try to suggest other places instead. And indeed when I persist, and identify where the thing must really be, based on a step-by-step reconstruction of events, they still express incredulity - that it was never possible for the thing to be 'there' and not where it 'should be'. With the implication that somebody (myself perhaps?) has been playing silly games. The root of all that must be an unwillingness to admit to mistakes. Or that they are sometimes fallible, and get distracted. In other words, that ordinary human frailty is something that doesn't afflict them. Oh well. That's human nature for you.


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  2. Just found the two missing capsules from a course of anti biotics. Every night I brought up two, one to take before sleeping and one as soon as I woke, they always went to the same place next to my bed. I have wandered about for a whole week muttering that they must be lying on the surface somewhere and sure enough they were nestled together with a few other small items I had brought up and placed where they were intended to go! I have been reliving the feelings of frustration reading your post...


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