It's unlikely that I would ever be a Patron X, the man whose alarm on his new company-issued phone rang in the middle of a recent New York Philharmonic performance.
I rarely turn on my cell phone. I rarely use it. Family and friends know not to try to call me on it. It’s set up so no messages can be left and so I cannot receive or send text messages.
I have a cell phone for emergencies. I use mine only when logistics require it: during family moves, for medical situations or on trips. So little do I use it that I do not have a monthly contract. I add minutes once a year for $100. That is more than enough.
The other day I ended up near a Verizon store. I remembered it was almost time to add the new minutes required once a year. The fellow looked at the phone and told me I had about five hours of talking time left. He advised me to wait until later in February, closer to the date before which I’m required to refill the minutes.
I snapped the phone shut, put it in my pocket and left the store. That was my first mistake. I should have put it in the zippered pouch in my purse where I normally keep it. Two evenings later I noticed that the pouch was open, and the phone was missing.
I scoured the house and the car. I called my number I have written down in the pouch. A man answered the phone with a lot of noise in the background. I often mis-dial numbers, so I tried it again, but no one answered. Our neighbor dialed the number too without any luck.
As I'd gone to my sister’s house the night I’d been at the phone store, I called her. It was not there either. She advised me to call the phone store in the morning and see if someone had turned it in. Maybe, she thought, it had fallen out of my pocket when I sat down in the car and someone had picked it up in the parking lot. I have no numbers stored on the phone, she reminded me. That's because I don't know how to do that.
The next morning I called the Verizon store in Timonium. I gave the man my cell number. He went off the line then came back and asked my name. I told him, and his reply was, “You are lucky. We have it."
He was right; I am lucky. This is the second time in two months I’ve lucked out with cyber-possessions. Last month, the Apple store replaced my iPad, which had a broken screen. This month, I’m saved the expense and hassle of getting a new phone and asking the store to program it so it won’t take messages or receive and send text messages.
When it comes to cell phones and social media, I plan to stay in a quieter, less agitating place for as long as possible.