Exposed

keysSo far, I’ve retained enough presence of mind to not leave the house before I’m fully dressed, but there’s nothing that makes you feel naked faster than realizing you’ve forgotten something important. My lunch was made and packed, but I never carried it to work. My purse is not on my shoulder – it’s on the chair in the coffee shop. I don’t have my keys.

Why isn’t there a scanner as I go out the front door that beeps if I’m leaving something behind? Why can’t I detect that I’m a few ounces lighter, or question why I still have a free hand? I don’t have memory problems, but while I’m thinking about the tasks in the day ahead, I sometimes shift the focus from what I’m doing, and I miss a step in the normal routine.

Last week, a snow storm was such a novelty that after trudging through the snow to the train, I realized I’d forgotten to bring shoes to change into. Annoying, but I decided to own it and claim “snow day rules” to anyone who wondered about my ensemble.

It didn’t go quite so smoothly when after all of my groceries were scanned and bagged I realized I didn’t have my wallet. This was where I shopped every week, but they still weren’t going to let me take those groceries without paying.

Approaching our building after work, I paw through my briefcase and realize that the keys are not there. They’re in the coat I wore yesterday.

This week, I was missing another increasingly important object – my phone. I hadn’t misplaced it, but it just stopped working. What began as random restarting became total battery failure that sent me running to the Genius Bar for help. I didn’t think my phone mattered so much until it was a blank brick. We don’t have a landline in our home, and I hadn’t even bothered to tell my family my phone number at work. I was off the grid, or so it felt.

I realized how many times a day I would reach for my phone to do something I couldn’t have imagined 4 or 5 years ago. Texting my kids, ordering lunch and paying for it with that nifty app, checking the train and bus schedules, the weather, and local movies times (I mean, really, they don’t even print that information in the paper any more!). And then there are the codes needed for multi-factor authentication that I use for work. Without my phone, I was stopped in my tracks.

I have a replacement phone now, and everything is “back to normal,” but I’ll admit I’m a little bothered that so much depends on this small object. I guess the phone joins an esteemed group: keys, a license, a payment card. Without them, it’s pretty hard to function anymore.

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