When Technologies Collide

No Cellphones!

A few days ago I had the interesting experience of colliding technologies. I temporarily lost my iPhone at the same time Winnie (in a location far far away from me) had a low tire pressure alarm, and we experienced what I can only describe as a “First-World Nation” issue of confusions and missed signals. It’s times like this I wondered about life back in the BC (Before Cellphone) era.

That day started out like most weekday mornings. I crawled out of bed at 5:00AM, performed my morning bathing, dressing, and breakfast rituals, and drove off to the local commuter lot at 6:00AM. Once at the commuter lot I got into the slug line for my Washington, D.C., destination, and after a brief wait caught my three-person-to-a-car ride. I was dropped off at the usual location in “DC” and hiked seven blocks to my office, arriving more or less around 7:00AM.

My normal practice is to read the news on my iPhone  while riding from the commuter lot to my drop-off point, and store my iPhone and reading glasses in my jacket’s inside breast pocket before getting out of the car. In smaller cars, especially when riding in cramped back seats with seat belts engaged, it’s sometimes a struggle to get my iPhone and glasses in my pocket.

On this particular morning, riding in the rear seat of a small car with seat belt on, I put my glasses and iPhone in my jacket pocket as we approached the drop-off point, hopped out and hiked down to my office. Once at my desk I reached into my jacket pocket for glasses and iPhone, only to discover a complete lack of iPhone. My glasses were there, and I experienced a brief moment of confusion which changed to panic. I realized I must have missed the inside jacket pocket when replacing my iPhone, instead putting it in the space between jacket liner and shirt, and the iPhone fell out of my jacket onto the sidewalk somewhere along my hike.

Meanwhile, Winnie had her own problems. Her weekday mornings involve getting out of bed around 6:00AM, performing her morning rituals, and leaving the house about 7:00AM for a more or less one hour drive to her job. On this particular morning as she started up her car she saw that the tire pressure warning light stayed on.

Winnie did what she always does when confronted with a technical problem; she called me. However, on this particular day at 7:00AM I was already physically separated from my phone; but a man’s voice answered her call. Winnie rattled off her problem, and later claimed a voice that sounded like me told her “it’s in the garage, come get it” then hung up. Thinking I had just hung up on her set her off, and after calling back a couple of times with no answer she tried texting me, still with no results. Now she was really pissed, but thinking about the statement “it’s in the garage” decided I meant to tell her she needed to have our neighborhood service garage check her tires.

Back at my office I was in full-blown controlled panic thinking I’d lost my iPhone. I walked back along my drop-off to office route looking for the iPhone and of course didn’t find it. Once again at my office I first tried calling my phone number, in the event whoever had it might answer, with no success. Then I went on-line to find Apple’s “Find My Phone” service. As I searched the web I realized I should call and tell Winnie about my phone. Although my iPhone is password protected, I was concerned Winnie might need to call me.

I used my office desk phone to call her. Winnie answered and before I had a chance to tell her my story she lit into me demanding to know why I wasn’t answering her calls and why I wasn’t helping her with her car problem! I got her calmed down, finally, and explained I had lost my phone and couldn’t answer. She denied this on basis that on her first call to me someone’s voice told her to “go to the garage.” Still riled up, she told me she took her car to our local service station and the mechanic there helped check and put air in her tires. I told her I’d call back if/when I found my phone, and anyone calling her until then wasn’t going to be me.

I located the “Find My Phone” website and set it up for my iPhone. The service worked, showing my iPhone was at a location right about my drop-off point. I sent a screen message asking whomever had my iPhone to call my office phone number,  then sent an alarm command to make the iPhone ring. I had to do this twice before my office phone rang and a somewhat grumpy man’s voice said “I have your phone. It’s at the parking garage at…” and named an intersection near where I had been dropped off that morning.

I made yet another seven block hike and retrieved my phone with a very big thank you to the person who retrieved it. Then I hiked back to my office, again. By now it was almost 9:00AM, and I hadn’t done any billable work.

The last thing I had to do was call Winnie again and let her know all was well. By now she was at work and calmed down from her morning’s excitement. So all was well in the world.

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