Panic: Where's My Phone?

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Column by Jim Clark

Saturday morning dawned beautifully clear but a little cool. So I grabbed my jacket, which I hadn’t worn since last winter, and headed out to the Fine Arts Festival of Ocala, better known as FAFO.
I took my cell phone and put it into the inside security pocket of the jacket, you know, the one you have so pickpockets can’t get to you.
There was a lot of walking at the festival, where I made my way from my favorite parking lot to the Square, and started taking pictures. I took a lot of photos of booths, and one shot of two girls in ballet costumes seeking funds for new outfits … the ones they were wearing were 25 years old.
When I was about to leave, I parked myself on a bench in front of the gazebo, and watched one of the singers warming up. She had a beautiful voice and my legs enjoyed the comfort of not walking.
Finally I got up and headed over to my car, and made the short drive home.
When I took off my jacket, the phone wasn’t there.
A mild panic set in.
I went back out and searched the car, the garage and everything in between.
Now there was real panic. No phone.
I searched the jacket more thoroughly, and discovered that the secure pocket wasn’t that secure … there was a hole in the bottom.
After a more detailed search, I came to the conclusion that the phone was gone. I felt as if my privacy had been ripped away.
Let me say that I have a cheap, $35 flip phone (yes, they still make those). I don’t text, or get on the Web, or take selfies. I use my phone exclusively as a phone, a concept that I’m sure my grandchildren would find horrifying.
So I got on the house phone and called my cell company, which put me on hold forever, and even longer. I finally gave up and decided I’d call them again. When I pushed the button, I heard the telltale beep beep telling me I had voice mail.
You know how, with voice mail, a voice always gives you the number from which the call came. In this case, the call came from my cell phone.
The message was from Lt. Eades of the Ocala Police Dept., on duty at the festival. He had my phone, and I could come pick it up.
He told me he had called numbers on the phone and gotten my wife. She gave him the house phone number. She couldn’t help otherwise … she was in upstate New York at a funeral. At least she had her phone.
So back to the Square I went, and I got my phone. I asked the lieutenant if he knew who turned it in, and all he said was some lady had found it near a bench. Now I knew where I had lost it.
I went home happily, holding onto my phone for dear life.
There are a few lessons I learned.
1. There are nice honest people in this world. I hope the lady who found my phone sees this.
2. There are good police officers in this world (actually, I already knew this). Lt. Eades could have just taken my phone and logged it into evidence, but he made an effort to find me, and even attached a charger in his car to give the phone a boost before I got there.
3. Before you use a pocket, make sure there’s no hole in the bottom.
4. I haven’t talked to my wife yet (she called and left a voice mail), but I’m sure she wasn’t thrilled with getting a call about her husband, who obviously couldn’t take care of himself while she was away.
5. Being put on hold is not always a bad thing. In this case, it stopped me from canceling my service and having to get a new phone and number.
So thanks to all who helped. Hopefully, it won’t happen again. Now, where did I put that camera…?

Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen and West Marion Messenger.