Monday, October 31, 2022


I lost my phone! Oh my gods, no. Right at the start of my big trip?! How could I be so careless!

Sat in my plane seat I jumped up. It wasn't in my hip pocket where it belongs, boarding was shortly closing, and I could picture it on the bench top at the gate where I sat waiting to board. The flight crew told me I had time—go back and get it. I battled the incoming tide of passengers upstream—"Excuse me. So sorry. Pardon me,"—and sprinted up the gangway. All my plans and schedules, three months of bookings, my personal information, access to my bank, all in my phone.... 

At the gate, breathless from stress, I asked if it was handed in. It was not. An unattended phone for free? In Sydney, that's stolen in seconds, as has indeed happened to me before. 

Consulting my phone to fill out a form once at the bank, standing near the entrance next to a junkie seeking refuge in the air conditioning, I left the damn thing on the counter. I barely walked out before realising, and pirouetted to see the junkie leaving an empty counter top. I appraised the situation in a second flat. 

"Mate! Did you see a phone left in there?" 

"Nah, mate, I didn't seen nothing."

But he doesn't want my phone; he wants money for a fix. "That's a shame," I said to him, "because I reckon I'd pay a reward for that."

Suddenly he knew things. "Oh, well, my friend might know. He's, uh, over in the park." 

So we walk to the park and negotiate a price for his friend the thief. I was happy to let him pretend to be the go-between and believe he was in control with a buyer on the hook for instant cash now. I was at his mercy and I did not want to lose sight of him for a second. If he sold that phone on the street, the data it held was worth thousands in fraud. He disappeared briefly to maintain the farce of the thieving friend before returning with the phone, and I gave him $60 to save myself the nightmare of identity theft. We parted as two happy bank customers.

Now I despaired. My phone is not on the bench top at the gate. "Are you still offering vouchers for relinquished seats?" I ask. They were, as they'd overbooked the flight. I'm thinking I might need to stay in Dallas to get a new phone, secure my data, and adjust all my plans. A very kind gentleman lent me his phone to call mine, but inconclusively there was no answer. It was either unattended or in the hands of a thief. 

Could it have fallen out of my pocket on the plane, slipping between the seats? The airlines actually specifically mention this scenario and advise against digging it out yourself in flight (it risks disconnecting wires). I am permitted to board again, and I tell them I might be back for the voucher. Now I am last on the plane, and the sympathetic cabin crew announces to all the passengers that a phone has been lost. 

But it hasn't. It's sitting stupidly in my seat, blinking one missed call.

Once again, for those new here: Travel is an exercise in controlled anxiety.

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