As I braked to a stop a flat shiny object slid into view on the passenger floor of my trusty Honda Civic. What? My cell phone was clutched in my hand, as usual, so what could it be? I was momentarily stunned and then it hit me. Olwen left her phone in my car! Ohhhh, no. I had just dropped her off at her friend’s house in San Jose so she could catch an early flight home to Florida.
For a nanosecond, I wanted to pretend I didn’t see it. Aaaiiii! I had taken my life in my hands driving her in the first place. Highway 17 which connects sleepy Santa Cruz, California to the bustling Silicon Valley is a windy mountainous road notorious for treacherous conditions, and one which I drive only when absolutely necessary. If it’s not an overturned semi, it’s a mudslide or a single car spinout which can delay traffic for an hour or a day, depending on the severity. Plus, there is every-day commuter traffic which has gotten horrendous in the last few years.
I went inside to think the problem through. I scarfed a tuna sandwich and considered my options. I couldn’t call her ’cause I had her phone. Maybe she would check email from her friend’s computer? I wrote:
Olwen, I have your phone! Call me! Or answer this email and tell me what to do. I thought maybe she would say to just mail it to her in Florida, that she didn’t need it because she had a spare iPhone in her purse. Some people do. They have two or even three phones with them at all times. I didn’t really think Olwen did, I was just looking for an excuse not to do the right thing.
I stared at my laptop while munching my sandwich. No reply. Sigh.
I took a deep breath and hit the road. She needs her phone. She must have her phone. She can’t live without it. Well, I know I can’t…I’m addicted. I admit it. Gotta go. The sooner the better because we were approaching the witching hour—three o’clock! That’s when the commute traffic starts these days. Going over wouldn’t be bad, but coming home? Oy! Bumper-to-bumper.
I made good time—only fifty minutes door-to-door. I knocked on the door and was greeted by a pleasant but puzzled lady.
“Hi! Is Ollie here?” I chirped, knowing that my dear British friend went by that nickname in this crowd.
The lady, bouncing a baby on her hip, swung the door open when she realized I was the same person who dropped Olwen off earlier. She led me into the kitchen where Olwen was working with her back to me.
“Yoo hoo…are you missing something, lady?” I cooed.
She turned and stared blankly at me as I held her phone up. She started patting herself down as it dawned on her—yes! She had forgotten her phone. And, yes, I had driven it back to her.
“Ohhhh. But, but…did you get all the way home before you found it?”
I smiled and nodded. Yup, it slid out from under the seat when I parked.”
“Oh, dear. I’m such a ditz!” she said sheepishly.
“Oh, no. It happens to everyone. Just last week it happened to me.”
“Really?” she seemed relieved.
“Yup. I was merrily making meatballs in my kitchen when my doorbell rang. Hardly anyone ever rings my bell, especially at night. I looked through the peephole and there stood my upstairs neighbor, Doris. Usually, when Doris visits she is bringing some delectable item she’s whipped up in her kitchen. Not this time. She was holding up my cell phone.”
“Like you, I just stared blankly at her. I hadn’t missed it yet.”
At that point, Olwen sort of came to and started laughing. “You mean…you got all the way home and then turned around and drove back here? Just to give me my phone? You could have sent it by post.”
“Are you kidding?! You’re gonna need this. You’re flying home tomorrow. Anything can happen at the airport these days. No way was I gonna let you fly without it.”
Her face softened and she gave me a big hug. “Thank you so much! You’re right, it would have been awful without it. You drove all that way..”
I grinned. “My pleasure. Have a good trip home. See you soon…gotta get going before rush hour.”
On the drive back to Capitola I started thinking about how many times I have panicked while patting myself down searching for the cell phone. The day is coming when it will simply be embedded in our wrists. Probably not in my lifetime, but then who knows? I grew up rotary phones, real live operators, and party lines. When cell phones first came out my unit was the size of a suitcase which I lugged around on my shoulder. Maybe I’ll live long enough to see a cell phone bracelet or even a ring.
We can still forget a bracelet or a ring. Okay, okay, chip me! Meanwhile, I will continue to use post-its reminding me to grab my phone.
Can’t live without it.