Tim Sample: Stories I Never Told You

It was here a minute ago!

Tue, 09/17/2013 - 8:00am

There are few things in life more deeply frustrating than misplacing an item you had in your hand, literally two minutes ago, then spending the next several hours searching for it. I should know. I have a positive genius for this sort of thing.

Whether we’re talking about a pair of sunglasses, a cell phone, the car keys or even a fresh cup of coffee, I have a consistent (and some say downright spooky) propensity for losing things within approximately 10 feet of wherever I happen to be standing at the moment.

“Oh,” people say, “If that (fill in the blank: pen, wallet, passport, automobile?) was really important, you’d have kept a lot better better track of it.”

Nope, in my case.

Anyway, it makes not one whit of difference whether the item in question is a gold Rolex or a bag of potato chips. When it’s time to go, poof, it’s gone!

Heck, one time many years ago I managed to misplace a motorcycle for a whole afternoon. Hmm, perhaps the less said about that particular afternoon the better.

Let’s just say that when it comes to losing things, I’m like Uncle Billy making a deposit at the Bedford Falls Savings and Loan. I stop briefly to chat with Mr. Potter. Then I’m standing at the teller’s window only to discover all that hard earned cash has evaporated.

Speaking of tellers. At times I swear I must have been channeling Penn and Teller. I’m serious! Hard, inanimate physical objects with genuine heft are there one minute and gone the next? Of course that’s absurd. Things never really disappear like that in real life, do they?

Even those famous magicians admit that there’s no real “magic” happening. It’s just sleight of hand, misdirection, all done with smoke and mirrors. I’m sure that’s true. But it doesn’t make it any less baffling when it happens to you.

High on my list of “frequently vanished” items is my cell phone. Although no great fan of digital technology, I’ve finally, albeit reluctantly, joined my fellow lemmings. Irritating and dangerous to life and limb as it clearly is, I guess the cell phone is here to stay, although in my case they never seem to “stay” all that long. Perhaps my “smart” phones have actually become so clever they’ve figured out how much I dislike them. That would explain why they keep leaving me.

A few years back my wife and I were driving around doing interviews for a book I was writing. Of course we had our cell phones with us. But, when we stopped for lunch and I wanted to make a call, my phone had vanished. No problem. My wife simply dialed my number and a few seconds later a ring tone echoed through the car.

A half hour later we still hadn’t figured out where the sound was coming from. I was starting to feel as though I was trapped in a Twilight Zone episode when my wife pointed out that the ring volume increased each time I leaned forward and decreased when I leaned back. Apparently that’ll happen when you sit on a ringing cell phone. Oh well. Now I know.

Sadly, not all such mysteries are as easily solved. About 15 years ago my entire key ring dematerialized in the blink of an eye.

This was no sissy key ring either. Heavy enough to generate a decent disability check under the right circumstances, it held several copies of every key to every car, motorcycle, boat, home, garage, camp, office, smelt shack, random padlock, Samsonite luggage set, wall safe and personal diary anybody in my family had owned for the previous two decades.

Upon discovering the loss, I immediately followed the advice of sci-fi genius Robert Heinlein in “Time Enough for Love”: “When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.”

Hysterically, I searched in the same three places approximately 57 times in a row. No dice. For all I knew my keys had slipped through a portal into another universe.

Which brings me to a dream I had as a boy. In the dream I awakened onto a bright celestial plane. An angelic chorus harmonized majestically as I approached a massive white-columned building. Climbing the pristine steps, I entered the main hall and noticed a table stretching out as far as the eye could see.

Upon it, carefully laid out in chronological order, I recognized every single item I’d ever “lost” in my life. Euphoria overtook me.

Smiling, I thought, “So that’s where that went. I knew I’d find it someday!”