Mystery of the Disappearing Cell Phone


I was clearly distracted. My husband was getting ready for minor surgery. The morning had been a blur of phone tree–type frustrations dealing with two different medical insurance issues. There were other paperwork hurdles, but you don’t really need or want the other details.

A small inkling of dread and despair began to creep up my chest.

One of our vehicles was in the shop for inspection and needed to be retrieved. And, oh yes, there was that leftover fried chicken to pick up at church from a Saturday night graduation party. (Pay attention to the fried chicken clue.)

After I got off work, my husband and I headed to a nearby small town where my brother-in-law runs a garage and fetched our inspected minivan. I planned to drop by the church for that chicken dinner, which would make a quick evening meal. My husband headed home with his car. I punched my daughter’s phone number to check in on a problem she was having, but no answer.

I ran inside the church, keys and cell phone in hand, in case my daughter called me back. I found the chicken, and decided to take care of the three huge bags of donated clothing someone had left outside the door of our church clothes closet. Since I help with that mission, I moved the heavy boxes inside and went on my merry way.

But soon after I got home, I started looking for my security blanket. I realized my cell phone was not in my purse, not in my pocket, or on my person. A small inkling of dread and despair began to creep up my chest. I recalled using it to try to call my daughter. So I went back to the car in the garage, checked all the logical places, and also the places in the garage where I sometimes set things down temporarily if my hands are full. Nothing. Back to my purse, tote bag, lunch bag. Nothing. Over the course of the evening, I checked the van and all the logical places at least three more times. Nothing. We rang the number and listened all over the house and the garage.

The worst feeling was realizing I was panicking not because of potentially losing a $200 piece of technology, but because I had misplaced my “smoke.” I was clearly addicted to the smartphone that kept me in touch with so much. I have a tendency toward some nasty addictions, if not smoking. Ask my husband whether I can leave alone cashews, red licorice, or peanut M&M’s if they are in the house. Can’t do it. Or only with great willpower. I fear I’m just as addicted to the smartphone I have partially for my work life—I post much on Facebook and Twitter for many work projects.

I told myself I could get through a day without my phone—and I did. But by the second evening, depression and bewilderment were beginning to set in. The phone had to be in my van, garage, or house, didn’t it? But I despaired of the zillion places it could be hiding. Had the numerous attempts to “call” the phone worn the battery down? Was it still on? Had it died?

The next day was my husband’s rotator cuff surgery. We would just limp by with his phone—which does not do online stuff and which you have to turn on “speaker” phone in order for others to even hear you. He can only get calls and texts. We could survive.

Plus, there were too many other things we were worrying about—the surgery, of course, and all the things you want to take care of in the house, yard, and garden before being “out of commission” for three to six weeks.


The child who was able to open my cell phone, now age 5.

As we were waiting for the nurses to take my husband in for his surgery prep, my brother-in-law called. Someone had found my phone outside at my church. I was astounded! How did he even know? We hadn’t told him about it. A friend volunteering at the church had called him, since his name came up as a recent caller. A young clothes closet helper—age five, who accompanied her mother—had helped the older volunteers figure out how to swipe the phone open. Thank goodness for five-year-olds. All was well with the world.

My mood went from somber to celebratory, even though my husband’s surgery had not yet begun.

Of course! The fried chicken. I had taken the phone with me into the church and then put it down outside the door in the grass, so I could move those clothing boxes.

With my husband settled for an estimated two-hour surgery, I went over to the church to retrieve my phone. As soon as I picked it up to see if it was still ticking, it died in my hand. As it closed itself down, I could see a glimmer of battery indicating it had 1 percent power. Sweet timing!

Thank you, thank you for staying alive long enough for someone to find you and get back to my loving hands.

Where, of course, I’ll never let you out of my sight again.

And the surgery? It went very well too! Lots to be thankful for on a rare June day.


If you have comments, kudos, or want to tell your own “found cell phone story,” just send to me: or Another Way, 1251 Virginia Avenue, Harrisonburg, VA 22802.