Travel Stories: Lost & Found

©Steve Simon

Okay, so I’m groggy as I wonder around Terminal 5 at JFK, early for my flight as I like to be, checking out some favorite stores to find things I really don’t need. I travel a lot so I’m fairly organized, with a bit of a system so that I minimize any unpleasant surprises on my journeys.

I check the Duty Free for my favorite Cadbury Chocolate; they don’t have it. Sad.

I look at the high-priced outdoor wear at Ex-Officio and then wander into Muji to see all the cool stationary stuff I keep buying over and over again.

I know I have my phone with me because I just checked the time a little while back. Off to the long line at StarBucks when I feel for my phone in the usual places/pockets I store it in. Hmmm, not there.

Checking all the pockets but not panicking yet, because as a photographer I have a lot of carry-on gear—its gotta be somewhere.

But not here. When I realized it was gone, I retraced my steps asking all the empathetic sales clerks if they had a rogue iPhone 7+ returned to them. Nothing.

I go to the busy JetBlue counter to see if anyone has returned it. They care a little but no one has dropped it off yet. Off to the TSA where some very nice staff look but don’t find and then offer to phone my phone, but no answer.

Aha! The “Find My Phone” feature will know where it is and it does. Miraculously my computer shows me a map that I enlarge, bigger, closer —until I see the Terminal 5 JFK building with all the stores I had just been in with a beacon telling me it’s in what looks like the food court area after I intersect the coordinates. It’s there, with all my info, schedules and pictures I had forgotten are backed up to the iCloud, thankfully—but I want it back. Don’t see it however.

Activate the “make a noise” feature to see for sure if it’s somewhere in my many pockets or in my carry-ons. Don’t hear anything.

Next Step Lost Mode, which lets me type in a message and a number for the honest finder to call. My message says where I am, my gate  where I board my flight to Havana and gives my wife’s number for them to call.

I go back to the electronics store to get an update and show them the beacon on the map of Terminal 5 where the phone still is, still on. The fact that it’s on and rings and eventually goes to my voicemail, or that I can successfully send a message to make it make noise, gives me hope. It means that the phone is on. If someone found it and intended to keep it, they likely would shut it down.

The woman at the electronics store confirms it’s probable location from the beacon on the map and suggests I wander the food court  activating  the noise from my computer to listen for it. So that’s what I do, scrutinizing the sleepy passengers and looking for suspects. Nothing.

As I turn the corner, I hear a voice calling out. “You owe me!” the saintly TSA woman shouts as she passes a familiar phone to me with my wife on the line.  Seems the Muji store people heard the noise and found the phone and called the TSA who saw the message and called my wife while looking for me. I had been to the store but it had not been found yet. When I went back they told me what happened…I had put it down near stationary and just left it there.

I wish I could say this was the first time I’ve done this sort of thing, but I’d be lying.

Moral of the story: Activate the Find My iPhone feature (it works for all Apple Devices). But the beacon in this case was an approximate location since it didn’t emanate from the Muji store but somewhere in the middle of the terminal. Regardless, it’s amazing. Once the phone was safely back with me, it was easy to deactivate the Lost Phone option by putting in my PIN (also set a pin on your phone if you don’t have one set) and it’s like it was always with me. My iPhone is also set to automatically back up everything to the cloud so no photos or videos are lost. Another important task.

The TSA lady wouldn’t accept any reward and just requested I pay it forward. So if you’re reading this and you add a lock code and activate the Find Your Phone function to protect it’s irreplaceable content— then mission accomplished.


Add yours
  1. 1
    Stewart Curry

    As I recall there was a bigger lesson learned with a camera bag in a parking lot back in the day in Montreal!! Good to know you haven’t changed Mr. Simon!!

  2. 3
    Paul Lavergne

    Haha you were lucky. Cant imagine going on a trip and loosing my phone before boarding. Have a good one in Havana. I am jealous :))

  3. 5
    Pauline Crawley

    Ok so I’m activating Find my iPhone function – thanks Steve. So pleased you found it in time.
    Say Hi to Havana from me and I wish I was with you and the gang – such an amazing time we spent there. Have fun.

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