It started out so innocently. I was chatting on the phone with my sister, and I needed to do some more work painting the basement walls. I thought, “Of course! I will just get my hands-free set out of the car, put my cell phone in my pocket, and talk to my sister while I paint! That will make it go so much faster. Clever me!”
So far so good. Good use of time, efficient multi-tasking, a solution that will make a boring activity more interesting. I did not, however, factor my brain into the equation.
I said to Laura (my sister) in a chipper, optimistic tone, “Give me three minutes, I’ll call you right back!” Now, Laura has known me for all of her 34 years, and she is smart enough by now to know that “three minutes” is a euphemism for “at least five minutes, maybe seven.” Even I have to admit, though, that “three” should not go into the double digits. I may have overestimated the number of things I could fit into three minutes: Change into painting clothes, retrieve hands-free set and bag of recently purchased brushes from the car, plug hands-free set into phone, call sister. Five minutes, tops.
Here is what actually happened.
I hang up with my sister and put my phone in my pocket. I promptly forget that it is there. I head to my bedroom and change into my paint clothes, conveniently piled on the floor from the previous day’s painting. (I don’t normally throw all my clothes on the floor, but honestly, a pair of grey yoga pants and a hot pink T-shirt, both covered with multiple paint splatters, are not really going to be made WORSE by a night on the floor.) I conscientiously close the door behind me so I don’t fill the room with paint fumes.
I go to the car and get the bag of brushes. I realize that my phone is still in the office (and of course YOU know it’s not, because YOU didn’t forget that I put it in my pocket), so I start up the stairs. I realize that I don’t really need to carry the bag of brushes upstairs, so I set them on the stairs on my way up. I promptly forget that they are there, because really, who puts paintbrushes on the stairs?! I look and look on the desk for the phone, but it’s not there. I check the bathroom counter, which doesn’t really make sense, but I’m not sure where else to look. I decide to stop looking for the phone for now and go get the hands-free set out of the car. How on earth did I remember the brushes but forget the hands-free set? Usually it’s right there in the passenger seat – I don’t bring it into the house since I always lose it, and it works better to keep it in the car. The long black cables make it easily visible, and it should have been right by the brushes. Huh … weird.
So I go back out to the garage. I climb into the car, head down and rump up, looking under the seats, peeking into the back, rummaging around in the cracks between the seats, and finally checking under the overdue library book in the front seat, just in case the hands-free set spontaneously coiled itself up neatly and went into hiding. No luck. It is GONE. Baffled, I wander back into the house. I spot the brushes on the stairs and think, “Wow, it would have taken me a while to find THOSE.” I don’t know where else to look for the phone, so I drift, confused and forlorn, into the kitchen. There on the kitchen table is the hands-free set. I still have no idea how it got there.
OK, I’m almost set! Paint clothes – CHECK! Nice new brushes – CHECK! Hands-free set – CHECK! Phone … ohhhhh. (long sigh) I really need to call Laura back, too. She’ll be wondering if I got distracted and decided to bake bread or something. Where IS that phone? It shouldn’t be that hard to find, I had it three minutes ago.
I look and look, and finally resort to calling my cell phone from the land line, wandering around pushing the redial button and listening for the distinctive ringtone of my cell phone (the sound of Doctor Who’s Tardis taking off, if you’re curious). (And yes, I do see the irony of making my phone sound like a semi-sentient object capable of independently transporting itself through time and space.) Upstairs, downstairs, in my lady’s chamber … oh, well, sure enough, there it is. In my jeans pocket, right where I left it. On the other side of the door I so wisely closed.
I will spare you the description of the discovery that I cannot maintain a phone connection from the dead spot in my stairwell, nor will I tell you exactly what I did with the phone when I realized that my painting pants had no pockets. (I folded my arms and accidentally hung up on her, so that should give you a clue.) I will spare you the description of exactly what happens when you try to pour paint from a 5-gallon bucket into a small Tupperware container.
But if you ever see the following news article in the “human interest” section of your newspaper, you will know who it is:
“Woman, 37, is found in own home after being lost for four days. ‘I was just trying to find my keys,’ says Bee Jones, speaking from her hospital bed in Portland, Oregon. Emergency workers responded to a call from Ms. Jones’ son, 8, who was out of clean underpants and decided to call the police. Jones was dehydrated and hungry, but responded well to treatment and is expected to be released from the hospital later today. Jones’ daughter, 11, said only, ‘I wondered why we were out of orange juice.'”