My apologies, dear homeless man, and my thanks

It was one of those mornings. My work-related text message notification started beeping while I was still head-on-the-pillow, tangled-in-the-down comforter. Who was going to be in by 9am to unlock doors and greet early risers? Well, apparently I was, though 9am seemed too few minutes away and the bed too comfortable to guarantee my timeliness. I managed the foggy rush about that comes without coffee, without a shower and barely a concern for the coordination of jeans and a t-shirt and I was off to the office.

Illustration by Tavis Coburn

Illustration by Tavis Coburn

Sitting at the front desk a mere 15 minutes later I went to check my phone messages only to realize I didn’t have it. My cell had been misplaced in the short drive to work, or maybe in the walk from apartment door to car door, or car door to office door…I rummaged through my messy purse full of notes and notebooks, receipts and an unnecessary number of pens without caps. No phone. I rummaged through my computer bag full of to-do lists on scrap paper, unopened mail and random winter hats. No phone. Coat pockets only gave up loose change and a gum wrapper. No phone. I wondered how many texts I had missed. No phone. Emails? No phone. Where was I even supposed to be? No phone.

I hopped online and Facebooked my roommate to have a look around and let me know if it had been left on a counter or dining room table. She quickly let me know she hadn’t heard or seen it. I checked under my car seats, in between the seats, down where it drops sometimes by the carseat and the door where it is really hard to reach. I checked places it shouldn’t be unless it bounced when I drove over a speed bump, flipped twice in the air and landed just right to slip into a random pocket. I got in the car, drove back to my house, retraced my steps through the apartment, down the stairs, checking under the vehicles I had passed that were still parked in the same spots. I drove west back down Burnside hoping it hadn’t jolted out of the car and down a manhole where construction crews were working. Returning to my work parking spot, I checked the street, ruffled through leaves to see if it had fallen, then I realized that I have Phone Finder.

Logging in to iCloud I hit the app to track the GPS on my phone. A little green dot appeared on a map showing the phone to be about half a block from my original parking spot early that morning. A little green dot in the middle of the street, middle of an intersection that I hadn’t stopped at. The phone must have dropped and gotten brushed aside by a person or bike or fortunate hit of a car tire that didn’t crush it, but sent it yards away from anywhere I had walked. I ran outside to see a man, disheveled and dirty on his bike full of bags and gear standing in that very spot.

“Have you seen a phone?” I tried to say it very innocently even though my mind was accusing him of picking up my mistakenly dropped, stupidly expensive piece of electronics that I was searching the southeast side of Portland to find.

“Yes.” He said.

“My phone?!” My eyes widened as I imagined him reaching in to his torn coat pocket and pulling out my speciality cased camera with a contact list.

“Yeah.” His hand came out of his coat and he handed me a tiny flip phone, “You can use mine to call it. I know how it feels to lose it.”

He let me dial my number and try to listen for the cricket sound of an unassigned number. He then dialed my number again as I ran around the middle the street looking for where the green dot had appeared feeling a lot like a schmuck for thinking all along he had stashed it somewhere amongst all the possessions he carried with him, and probably all the possessions he owned. When I couldn’t find the phone I thanked him for his time and wished him a good day and wandered the half a block back down to my car to look one last time. After my too brief and too ungrateful encounter with the homeless man carrying a tiny flip phone, I found my phone right there in the passenger seat of my car under a piece of paper.  And while I answered the nine text messages and eventually got to the emails my day was impacted more by the nice homeless man on the bike that stopped his day to help me fix mine.


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