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The Column

Have You Seen My Cell Phone?
3/30/03

Wednesday morning, I felt naked. I'd lost my phone the night before, and spent all of Tuesday and most of Wednesday making sure all of my friends knew just how annoyed I was by making sure they were just as annoyed. The one thing more annoying than losing your cell phone is having your friend repeatedly complain that he lost his.

I was running late for a stand-up show and hopped in a cab to save some time. We pulled up as the show was supposed to start, and I checked my pockets quickly as I got out of the cab. Having left my cell phone in a cab two weeks after I first got it, I've been feeling the outside of my pants pockets every time I stand up for the last three years. Not just to check if my phone fell out, but also because it also feels kind of nice.

That day, I was carrying a tape of one of my past shows with me, and mistook this for my phone. Were I not running late, perhaps I would have been able to tell the difference between a tape and my phone. And were I not an idiot, I certainly would have been able to tell the difference. Either way, I left my phone sitting in the cab and the cab left me standing on the street, naked. This was not the first time I'd been left naked on the street by a cab driver, but that's another story for another time.

Ten minutes later, I was sitting in the club and I reached for my phone to make a call. It wasn't there. Frantically, I tried dialing the tape. When that didn't work, I checked my other pocket. Then, I checked my first pocket again, as if I could have somehow missed the phone the first time. I did that every half hour for the rest of the night. I even checked my pocket the next day, which was weird because I was wearing different pants. After a thorough search of every chair I had or hadn't sat on since I'd arrived at the club, I accepted that my phone was no longer in my possession.

I tried calling it. Nothing. I tried calling it again. Still nothing. I checked my pocket one more time to be safe. I couldn't think of any way I was ever going to see my phone again, so I left this clever message on the voicemail.

"If you have found this phone and are checking the voicemail, please call me at (insert home number here). There is a small cash reward."

As much as most people would jump at the idea of a cash reward less sizeable than an average cash reward, I had to try other methods. I hadn't gotten a receipt from the cabbie. I didn't have my home number written on the back of the phone. And I had left the thing on vibrate so it couldn't even ring. I hadn't done anything that would help me recover my phone if I ever lost it, even though I was thinking of all kinds of preventative measures after the fact (see hindsight, 20/20).

The next morning, I called Sprint. Apparently, when I switched plans last month, I didn't tell them to re-register me in the equipment replacement program. I'd saved the whopping $3, but was ineligible for a phone replacement. And just when I was about to yell at the Sprint woman for my own mistake, it dawned on me: I checked my pockets. After the phone still wasn't there, I asked Sprint if any calls had been made on my account after 9PM the previous night.

It turns out that the cabbie called a buddy of his to see what to do with the phone. The cabbie friend helped me retrieve my phone a few hours later, and I offered that small cash reward. He turned it down, but accepted two free tickets to a future comedy show of his choosing. To which I hope I am not running late because I don't want to lose my phone again.

Now that I am fully clothed once more, I have not written my home number on the back of the phone, have taken several cabs without asking for a receipt, and have continuously left it on vibrate. But it's still here, thankfully, residing comfortably in my pocket.

Though I'm going to have to check to make sure.

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