This morning I met a friend of mine at a local bakery that I’ve developed an unhealthy relationship with. On the weekends, it’s always packed, so we sat only long enough to eat our confections and then headed outside in search of sunshine.
The curious thing about the sun in San Francisco is how infrequently it transmits heat. As our coffees and fingers cooled, we downed the last tepid swigs and slipped our hands in our jacket pockets. And that’s when the fun started.
Immediately Tom realized that he didn’t have his phone. Incredulously he scanned his pockets while I searched my bag in case I’d mistakenly pickpocketed him. As he mentally retraced his steps I patted him down, expecting to come upon the stealthy iPhone. The best part is that while this was happening I’m sure that no one looked twice at the scene we were making.
We headed back to the bakery. No luck. I went to unlock my bike and Tom went into the bakery again, hoping that the phone had reconstituted itself and was once again on the wooden bench where we ate our breakfast. The result of this search requires no explanation.
By now Tom had been through the sinking feeling of losing something, past the frenzied hope that it might be recovered and was settling into the painful realization of the cost of a momentary lapse of attention.
We called the phone, no answer. We texted it, no response. When we looked up, Tom recognized a friend of his, and he recounted his misfortune. But as luck would have it, this was yet another of his lawyer friends, and a problem-solver extraordinaire. She asked ‘have you tried the ‘find my iPhone app?’
[Aside: have you tried the find my iPhone app? If not, you will by the end of this story]
The app told us that Tom’s phone was just five blocks north of us, slowly making its way up Valencia. There was only one thing to do.
I immediately downloaded the app, threw my phone in Tom’s pocket and implored him to get on the bike to go get his phone. Clutching the tent and my rock climbing gear, I ran-walked to meet him. We reconvened at 18th street, taking a moment to check the app, which told us the phone was no longer in motion. Walking slowly as we watched the map, we speculated that it might be in a barbershop, or at a popular brunch spot. I asked Tom whether we should block the doorways and just ask the entire establishments if anyone had his phone. We debated how accurate the app actually was. And then we realized we were in the exact spot as the phone on the map.
That’s when Tom saw him. ‘That guy was right next to us in the bakery! Don’t you recognize him?!?’ I didn’t. But Tom got to work, asking him whether he’d found a phone. He denied it, but shifted in his seat and then quickly began to pack up. We were pretty sure he had the phone, but at a loss about what to do next. ‘Check the app!!!’ I cried, and sure enough the phone was once again on the move. ‘Chase him!!’ And so we did, albeit in slow motion since the man was walking, Tom was carrying a tent and I was walking my bike.
The rest went something like this:
Us: We know you have the phone, please give it back
Him: How do I know it is yours? I just found it on the floor.
Us: Because this app led us directly to you. How else could we have found you?
Him: Well, I don’t know whether it’s yours.
Us: We’ll give you money for it. (Tom takes out his wallet)
Us [Tom]: I only have $11… but I can give you more.
Him: (slowly begins to back away into the street)
Tom: Take the money, or we’ll have to call the police.
Him: (moves more into the street)
Me: (under my breath) I’ve got money – offer him MORE!!!
Tom: How about $20?
Him: (moves back onto the curb) Okay, but you’re going to have to find it on me (laughing)
Him: Just kidding (and takes the phone out of the pocket of his jeans)
Tom: Thank you !!! (hands him the $20)
And that, my friends is how 20 years of post-secondary education, the app store and $20 dollars get an iPhone back in the Mission!
My grandfather always says that when you’re having a lucky day, buy a lottery ticket.