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by Ken Root

As I get older, I am amazed how many items in my daily life disappear and then re-appear in an unlikely place.  Joe Kreger, the cowboy poet, wrote about “Gremlins in My Shed” and assigned blame to unknown beings that hid his tools and then started sneaking into the house to hide his glasses.  I am there, but pray technology will save me from greater embarrassment in the years ahead.

Maybe we just have too much stuff.  When I dash in to change clothes, it takes five minutes to pull everything out of my pockets and off my being just to ensure that I don’t send it to the washing machine or walk into the shower and damage high value electronics.  How are we supposed to keep track of glasses, hearing aids, cell phone, wallet, pocket knife and watch?  One way is to put everything on the cell phone but then I lose that, too!

I sat down in the Atlanta airport last week and waited patiently for the flight home.  After one hour and 20 minutes of delays, plus three gate changes, we boarded and were told to put our cell phones on airplane mode.  At that point, I couldn’t find mine in my pocket.  No problem.  It’s in my camera bag between my feet.  Not there!  So it’s in the computer bag in the overhead bin, next to a suitcase larger than the lady who dragged it onto the plane.  Nope!  I start going back in time and remembered that the pants I’m wearing have an automatic cell phone ejector built into the right front pocket.  I had found that out last summer in a furniture store because my wife wanted me to try out a chair to see if it was comfortable.  I sat down in the soft coziness, squirmed a bit and then dozed off while she was talking sizes, colors and upholstery techniques with the sales lady.  When I awoke from a successful “fitting” we went home, only to realize my phone liked the chair so much it stayed behind.

Don’t worry about my loss of the phone because it has embedded within in the greatest invention of the last half century: GPS Locator.  Three years ago I saw an application called “Find my Phone” and took great comfort in reading how one mobile device could assist in locating another one, sort of like sending a dog out to find a cow in the brush.  I also was comforted to know that if there were enough people losing their phones for an “app” to be invented, I was not alone and less subject to criticism for losing mine.

As soon as we landed, I took my wife’s phone, which also had been lost a few months ago and found by using my phone to locate hers in the recycling bin at her work, to log in and commence the hunt. The best thing about smartphones is that people who can read at a sixth grade level can make them work.  Having spent two years in the sixth grade, I found myself more than qualified to ask the phone where mine was hiding.  It showed me the Atlanta airport and then Concourse D and finally the name of a business from which it appeared to be sending out the SOS.  I called that business and talked with a man who was pleasant but uninterested.  I then asked the App to have the phone make a loud noise so he could perhaps hone in on it but he pleasantly told me he could hear nothing and wished me good day.  I then saw that I had other choices on what to do with the phone.  I could lock it with a message to call my wife’s phone or I could make it self-destruct.  Since it was not going down the highway in a bandit’s backpack, I decided just to disable it and hope for the best.

Good things come to those who wait is a good motto.  It is not always mine, but I decided to hope rather than fear.  The next morning the designated phone number received a call from a lady from Delta Airlines who said she had the phone and would send it by overnight express.  I gave her my information for shipping and credit card and it is supposed to be here tomorrow.

The beauty of these high tech gadgets is that most of them are equipped with loss prevention but none are idiot proof.  You can still bend over a bucket of paint and have your cell phone dive out of your shirt pocket and do a reverse two and half into a five gallon bucket of color of the year latex.  You can stand up in an airport toilet and see your phone plunge into the porcelain and then hear the automatic flush engage as you are still determining whether it is worth it to stick your hand in to retrieve it.  Technology is actually working against you in this example.

I have found that my hearing aids have a GPS locator but the little battery has to be engaged for it to work.  It really doesn’t matter because they are so small I can’t see them anyway.  There is a new device that goes on any key ring or TV remote so the cell phone can be used like a pointer to signal “warmer or colder” and the searcher can know the object they can’t find is close by and only requires digging into the cushions or crawling on the floor or probing mud in a pre-determined pothole to find the reclusive object.  I just thought how handy that would be on a pregnant heifer’s ear tag.

I looked forward to entering a brave new world when I was young. Now I find myself entering another one every few months.  I don’t wish to live without my implants, attachments and accessories but they complicate life.  I now receive social security but I would gladly trade it for simple security if it becomes available.