Monday, March 7, 2011

I'm hiding...come find me!

Small phone + large stack of papers = a frustrating search

Simply Living
(First appeared in Orlando Sentinel March 6, 2011)

"Have you seen the phone?"

I ask that question several times a day. So does my husband.

It's usually followed by one of us saying, with (I'm embarrassed to admit) more than a hint of self-righteousness: "Where'd you leave it?"

The second question is followed by a frantic search that escalates in proportion to a series of accompanying queries. On the surface, the questions seem helpful. In reality, they're anything but.

"Where'd you have it last?" "Did you leave it in the car?" "How about your pocket?" "Did you check your purse?"

The answers are (in order):
  • "If I knew where I had it last, I wouldn't be traipsing around the house picking up pillows and looking under papers muttering expletives."
  • "No."
  • "I already checked."
  • "It's not in my purse, and why do you always think it's in my purse, anyway? How about in your shorts? Maybe you had it last, not me."

After a while, one of us lights upon the brilliant idea of calling the missing phone from our land line. Of course, we could have done that initially had we thought of it, but we didn't.

We weren't thinking. That's the problem.

So, we make the call and somewhere in the distance a familiar tune beckons.

"It's in the bedroom!" or "It's coming from the porch!" or "It's right here on my desk! Yeesh! I looked there twice! How could I have missed it?"

Pick any of the above. At one time or another, we've found the phone in each of those places.

The object of our attention is a simple (translation: outdated) clamshell design. We could text with it and take pictures if we wanted to, but we don't. We bought the phone for one reason: to talk. Of course, to do that, the phone must be present, and as far as I can tell, it doesn't come with a feature that lets aging boomers locate the device when they forgot where they left it.

Marriages thrive on a diet of mutual respect, appreciation and tolerance. I love my mate and enjoy his company, but when we're searching for a misplaced cell phone, he drives me crazy.

That's probably because his mannerisms mirror my own. We're both frequently preoccupied and shamefully forgetful, and our forgetfulness is vexing. No one wants to be that person — the one who is constantly wondering aloud where she left this or put that.

Yet here we are. We have become our parents. We've entered the "muttering" phase of life, when things refuse to stay put and some yet-to-be-discovered force causes small objects such as cell phones, keys and important notes to vanish inexplicably.

Until the phone rings and the wayward object is located.

Promises ensue.

"I will try harder," I vow, "not to leave the phone in the car, on my desk, on the porch or (all right, I admit it) in my purse."

I promise to try harder to focus on what I'm doing. I will pay more attention. My husband promises, too. Time passes. If we're lucky, we make it through an hour. Then it happens again.

"Have you seen the phone?" I ask as I wander through the house.


  1. Marty wrote: "Wish I had a nickel for every time I've had to "call myself" so I could follow the ring. Very funny article, Sherry!"

  2. Peggy wrote: "How did you know what I do almost every day? too funny - I love you're description of the "muttering" phase of life! lol"

  3. Dwight wrote: Have you been peeking in our window. Funny but as you so aptly said vexing.

  4. Gena wrote: There's an app for that!!!

  5. Sharon wrote: "Funny story Sherry--been there done that--a lot! and I walk around the house asking myself "Where did you put it last?" I retrace my steps etc...and I always vow that I will be consistent about where I put my things--but of course--the mind has 20 different things it is planning and doing at the same time sooooo--it will be interesting to see if this gets better after I retire from teaching---hoping the part-time job will only fill up my brain part of the time.... Love your insights!"

  6. Stephen wrote: "Connie each have our own phone. i constantly lose mine and it's so frustrating that you and you alone are the culprit, the author of your misery."

  7. Sharon wrote: For me, I think I am always trying to do a lot, remember a lot, and don't pay attention to where I put things--as I said, I am hoping that after I retire--trying to remember every email, phone call, progress report, time tracker, prep for each student, contacts that i have to make, IEPs, evaluations, reevaluations, observations, reports, etc-- --my head is always calculating etc...I need to declutter my closets and my head!

  8. i wish i could say, "sure, sharon, you'll be less preoccupied when you retire," but i fear it ain't so. you're like me - someone who will never be idle no matter what job they hold or don't hold. when you finally stop teaching, i imagine you will find other things to fill up your time, more than likely, many other things. the preoccupations will be different but there will preoccupations, nonetheless.