Slightly over a week ago I lost my phone in a public service vehicle. Now, losing phones in the city is not worth a story but being able to recover the phone over a week later is. I’m still in my celebration and appreciation phase and a few times I have to convince myself to believe it actually happened because every time I tell the story it feels unreal. And to save myself from having to retell the story and occasionally questioning my sanity, I have decided to tell it here, so that I’ll just give a link to those who ask about it. Here goes, but I must admit it feels a lot easier telling it in Kiswahili. 🙂
So it happened on Tuesday night around 9 pm. I had stayed a little late in town with my cousin to wait for a certain device to be repaired since it was needed for a presentation the following day. It was raining heavily so the city roads were a mess and heavy traffic everywhere. It took us a while to get a bus since most were stuck in traffic and the one or two that had made it to town were already full and they’d charged extravagantly anyway. When we finally did, there was the usual scuffle but we managed to secure the back seats in one of the buses. It would be important to mention that these are the back seats that leave my feet begging to feel the floor and have had me shoved in the air by rough drivers on various occasions. (See “Diary of the average height lass”)
The bus took quite a while to fill up and when we saw another that was heading our direction that was nearly full, we decided to alight and board the other so we could get home sooner. Just when we’d settled in the second bus and it was about to leave, I had that mini heart attack one gets when you can’t feel your phone in your pocket. I could feel my purse in my left pocket but there was no usual bulge on my right which meant I truly didn’t have my phone with me since I didn’t have my bag. I stood up in a rush and checked my seat and the surrounding but there were no signs of my phone. All I could remember was receiving a call just before we’d alighted. I hadn’t used it in the second bus so I’d either left it in the first or dropped it on our way out. The truth dawned on me; my phone was in the first bus and this second one was leaving. 😦
In an attempt to save the day, my elder cousin alighted and went to confirm if I’d left the phone on the back seat of the other bus. He left his phone with me so I continuously dialed my number to make it easy for him to get the phone if he got to the other bus in good time. I’d also get to locate it in the event that the phone was in the bus I was in. It kept ringing so I still felt that it had not been picked or worse still, stolen and switched off. The bus I was in left for home and I kept dialing my number almost every minute of the bus ride but no one picked the calls. I also sent a hopeful text to my number… asking the person who had seen/ picked the phone to keep it safe and that someone would be coming to pick it. Not too long after we’d left town however, my cousin called me on his phone and told me that he had neither found the bus nor the phone. My heart sank… but I still had hope I’d find it somehow especially since it was still on. After all, a friend had lost his phone in a matatu exactly a year ago and we’d been able to get it back hours later, thanks to the Good Samaritan who found it on the seat. See “A little intelligence goes a long way”
At some point everything seemed to go wrong. No one was receiving calls to my phone and the phone I was using was threatening to shut down due to low battery. I texted my host to explain the situation in case things got worse. I felt sorry for the lady I’d sat next to; she gave me that hopeful but sorry look and kept asking if it was still ringing. It was clear she was aching to help out but maybe the most she’d do was pray or cross fingers with me or encourage me. At least I know she did the latter.
I was unusually calm during the whole bus ride though. Maybe it was because I had backed up nearly everything on my SD card so I wouldn’t lose much and I’d bought the phone from my earnings so I didn’t owe anyone. It gave me some closure of some sort and I even felt that the loss would help me concentrate with school; that it wouldn’t have come at a better time. I missed my sticky notes though and regretted taking it for granted especially in the recent past. Shortly after I reached home, someone received the call to my phone. It was a guy, better yet, man. I couldn’t make much out of the conversation but he insisted that my phone’s battery was low and he probably wouldn’t get a chance to contact me if it shut down since both my sim card and phone had locks. We asked for his contact so we could reach him but he was not forthcoming with that and since he’d asked for my pin (he must’ve meant the phone lock pattern) so he could unlock the phone and get contact details, we weren’t sure we could trust him. He however mentioned that he would take the phone to the bus company since the last time something similar happened and he gave his details, the phone owner went with cops and he almost got arrested for theft. Soon after the phone shut down (I presume) and with it went my hopes of ever recovering my phone. There was no access to the phone even if he charged it and with the possibility of formatting or better still River Road, I wasn’t sure my emails and my logged in accounts were safe. Sigh.
Life went on as usual, well, almost. Being a person who rarely loses items, I have a hard time getting over losses of even small items so I didn’t get why I was so casual with my phone’s loss. I had even crafted several blog posts about it in my head. A part of me was seeing an unbelievable story unfolding while the other part hoped that a miracle would happen and I’d get back the phone intact. A few times I drafted bits on my PC but I didn’t get to finish any. Something kept me feeling that I’d not gotten to the end of the story just yet. I got a phone to use in the meantime and replaced my sim card but I didn’t write off the phone just yet. I’d decided to give the guy the benefit of doubt and ask the bus company if any phone had been returned just in case. When I checked with the company four days later, you can imagine my excitement when the officer informed me that a phone of the same make and colour as mine had been brought in to their offices the previous day. The office was out of town so I boarded a bus prepared to get back my phone, though two minor details about the returned phone weren’t similar to mine. When I got there, my 99% hope was diminished to zero. Apparently, the owner of the other phone had just picked it a while earlier. They person had provided all correct details and even the bus ticket and the dates of the loss did not match mine so it clearly wasn’t mine. What coincidence! I left my details at the office so they’d contact me in case another phone was returned. Now, if that wasn’t keeping hope alive, I’m not sure what is. I totally wasn’t sure I’d hear from that office though.
…Getting back the lost phone
8 days after I lost the phone, I got a call from another of my cousins. It was in the middle of a class and I had sat in the back row. I would have decided to pass and call after class but something pushed me to walk out to receive it. It was one of those calls that bear such good news that one may never forget it in their lifetime.
In retrospect: So after the phone switched off and there was hardly any way of reaching me, the guy decided to check if my SD card had any leading information. Now, usually my memory card has photos and photos and more photos of the owner, eBooks, lots of boring music and a few nice songs, my articles etcetera. There was information about the owner but no contact details. Thankfully, my cousin had sent me her Resume some time ago so I could check out the new formats in CV writing and her telephone number was the leading path of this success story. So the call I received was to give me those details and organize to go with her to pick the phone that evening. It got late though, so we planned to meet the guy the following day (9th day after the loss). We met at a popular spot in town (our security detail was disguised, watching and following us from behind, just in case) and the guy led us to a studio. They confirmed from the memory card photos that I was indeed the owner and when I unlocked the codes, there was no doubt the phone was mine. He gave back my phone and his question on how I left my phone on a bus seat is one I have not been able to answer. I must’ve had too much on my mind but I ensured I had fish later that day in the hope that it would help out with my memory issues :-P. He mentioned how his little boy had tried unsuccessfully to get the unlock pattern. It was clear that he’d tried all he could to give the phone back to its owner. About five minutes later we left that studio more than grateful, safe and sound and with my phone. I was overjoyed!!!!! You should have seen me walking through town all jumpy and with a spring in my step. I still had trouble believing it all but I was more convinced then that God loves me, and that there really are good people in this city.
So, what I have learned from all this? That it could be important to carry around your CV in your memory cards or flash disks or any external storage device you have. You never know; it could get you back your phone or device, or even better, get you recommended for a job. Or that maybe phone locks however easy may give you closure on the safety of important documents.
Mainly though, I know that good people exist, so we shouldn’t shy away from being part of the group… let’s stand and be counted on accord of our good deeds. Now more than ever I can speak of undying hope, of God’s faithfulness, abounding love, kindness and unending graces. I know that if something is His will, it will definitely come to pass… and so we should be still and know that He is God.