Here’s what you do

Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, September 6, 2015

Starting with my father, I have always had people around me who knew exactly what to do in any given situation. Without a split second’s worth of hesitation, he would go about fixing or fabricating or directing anything. These processes for him were self-evident and without alternative. If you did it his way, in short, you weren’t so much destined for success as not destined for ruin.

Yes, the head of our household was one of those who believed there was only one way to do things: the right way. “Properly,” I believe was the word he used, as if it were inextricably tied to the social order and probably an order even higher than that.  As if how-to’s were delivered by God — by ray of light — directly to these Messengers of Technique on Planet Earth. That’s what I’ll call them: MOT’s. People I’ve grown, especially recently, to appreciate a lot.

These are the people in your life who will take a needle out of your hands to show you how to really sew a button on. Who will tell you which single sandwich should be ordered at any deli in all the major U.S. cities. Who will hook up electronics for you, show you how to dice mangos, pull up a dandelion so that it won’t be back, build a doghouse, interpret a movie correctly and how to tell a friend they’ve crossed the line.

For the MOT’s — who are both thoughtful and somewhat authoritarian — the question seems to be: why would technique and knowledge exist if it could not be honed from good to better and from better to best? The rest of us? We don’t necessarily see the validity or delight of one way, given all the possibilities out there.

Recently, however, one of my MOT’s came in so handy, I’ll never doubt their value or place in my life again.

The situation: I am doing the normal thing with my phone, which is to check and make sure I know where it is, not because I would be lost without it, but because I might be slightly irritated for a time. Okay, maybe a little disoriented. Despite its turquoise color and lack of case, I misplace the toxic but useful device at least once a day.

Phone in hand, I put it in my raincoat and get on my bike to ride home. Half a mile in, I pull out my earphones for music, and then can’t locate it. Since I’m never entirely sure I’m positively right, I figure maybe I’ve left it at work, so I let it go and ride home. But then the next day — yawn if you’re bored — it’s not at work, either.

So I start to worry. About my insurance deductible and the fact that I’m not really sure if iCloud is really backing it up.  About the phone store people who, the last time, have unwittingly helped me lose hundreds of photos. About personal information floating around possibly in some kid’s tech-smart little hands, passcode aside.

I start emailing all the people who regularly text me and 24 hours later I’m writing the mass email telling everyone to forgive me, but I’ve lost my phone and to stay tuned. It feels stupid to make people care about this, but what if they are trying to reach me?

About six seconds after hitting send, I hear from an MOT friend, a techie who asks if I’ve used the Find My iPhone app yet. And I tell him even though I used it once, there’s no record of it on my computer. Just bear with me, he says. Here’s what you do:

And he tells me where to go and to sign in and click on the app button. He waits patiently. So: do you see your phone?

Miraculously, I see green dot on the map, right outside town, just past the roundabout, about four miles from my couch. It’s already dark and raining, but what choice do I have? I drive in, park, and start walking, leveling a borrowed phone’s flashlight down and into an endless stretch of ultra-long, wet grass. Really? Come on.

But I go through with the plan. Call home. Have my husband hit the button that is supposed to make my phone ping. I’m looking around in the dark telling him this is so pointless, what with the sound of the creek and the rain and all that grass everywhere. Then — I hear it. Something faint. I freeze. “Wait!” I say. And that’s when I see the phone, four feet off the path, flashing, pinging, surviving the rain. Wow. I hold it like the Holy Grail.

And thus am I reunited and saved a boatload of hassle. Because, luckily, someone is around in a time of needing a technique to utter four sweet words to me: “Here’s what you do.” And all … is well again.

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