Lessons learned from Losing my Phone at LAX

The plane was just backing out from the gangway. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Nicole beside me switching off her phone.

I reached down to my bag to do the same and before I could pick up the handles, I remembered.

My stomach jumped up to my chest. I looked at Craig, my mouth not really moving. Worried by the sharp words that I thought would come from his mouth, I tried to think of a way to ignore that I had been so stupid.

Needing his help, I decided to just spill the beans,

“Oh no Craig. I have left my phone charging in the terminal.”

losing my phone

Photo: Johan Larsson

I was shocked by his calm demeanour.

“Oh the plane is moving away, it’s too late now. You’ll have to tell the steward and see if he can call to the terminal and get them to grab it. Maybe they can send it back to us.”

No condemnation, no words of outrage, nothing.

My stomach had fallen by now into rolling queasiness as I thought of all the photos I had taken of our family cruise in Mexico, the phone numbers lost, the messages waiting for me upon my return to Oz wiped away, and of course the insurance excess.

What a stupid idiot I was.

As soon as I put the phone down to be charged, that little warning voice spoke clearly. “Be careful. You don’t want to forget it.”

I ignored it; I thought I was switched on. We went to say bye to Kate, one of the other travel writers in our group on our cruise. From there we went straight to boarding.

Always out of mind out of sight for me.

Thinking about Kate, triggered a solution in my mind and I quickly turned to Nicole.

“Do you have international roaming on your phone so I can send a text?”

“Yes, But I just put it in flight mode.”

I quickly explained to her what had happened and asked if she had Kate’s number. Kate was waiting in the terminal for another two hours for her flight to Brisbane.

“No I don’t, but I have Lindsay’s number, and we can text her and ask her to phone Kate.”

Lindsay was our wonderful host for the cruise and was spending an extra night in Los Angeles.

We texted, but did not hear anything back and it was time for Nicole to get her phone back into flight mode.

My mind kept problem solving and on a piece of paper, I write down what happened, what the phone looked like, describing the wallpaper photo of my family and what we were wearing, and Lindsay’s details.

Once the plane was in the air and at flying altitude I went to see the steward and told him my predicament.

“Do you think you could phone the Virgin terminal and ask if they could grab my phone and then give it to Lindsay when she checks in to this same flight tomorrow evening?”

“I can’t promise you, but I will see what I can do.”

His manager came to see me just before we landed in Sydney.

“I’ve filed a report, but I am not sure that we can do much. There is a lost and found section at LAX which is where it will probably end up if nobody has taken it. I’ll email you the number for the lost and found and you can see if you can track it down.

My heart sank. I know LAX too well. There is no way I’ll ever find that phone in their lost and found section. It’s to the insurance claim I go.

Being the Victor, not the Victim

On the way home on the train, the old habitual thoughts tried to poke their way through.

I began to think of the money that I would lose from insurance excess and my stomach went into knots.

The berating, the if only’s and why didn’t I, and then worst of all the “Why does this always happen to me? Why are good things happen followed by bad. Why can’t I ever get it right?”

The victim way of reacting.

My self-awareness shot through.

Enough feeling sorry for yourself. Don’t you slip back into bad habits. What happened happened. You can’t do anything about it now, but you can choose how you respond. Just like Craig did when he responded in a calm way.”

“It’s easy to do. Could have happened to anyone,” was his response.

“Thank you for not making me feel bad. I really appreciate it.”

I began to get a grip.

Everything happens for a reason. What is the lesson in this?

Sometimes lessons arrive as a way to remind us who we really are or give us the opportunity to practice who we want to be.

I decided thatΒ  I was going to use this as an opportunity to practice who I wanted to be.

Responsible: Losing my phone was a result of me not thinking clearly. My fault, my opportunity to own it, and do better next time.

Patient and calm: understand that it will all work out in the end.

Able to cope with loss: a loss is just a loss. It is not the end of the world. Getting frustrated, upset and beating yourself up is way worse than any monetary loss.

Victor: I will not entertain the thoughts of me having bad luck, or that life is picking on me. Sometimes shit happens, get over it. The pity party does not serve and is over.

This was a huge step for me and I realized that so often the victim is my reaction. Years of training to be self-aware has now taught me to respond instead of react.

I remained calm, I accepted the loss, and was prepared to learn and move on. I phoned Optus insurance, and the pleasant operator blocked my sim and handset so no one could use it and instructed me on what to do next.

Two hours later Craig’s text message alert sounded.

“Hi, it’s Lindsay. I’ve got Caz’s phone and charger and will call you when I arrive in Sydney to organize drop off.”

WOW! Virgin must have found it and got it to her at check in.

Respond into better Outcomes

I am convinced that this happened because I allowed this experience to be an opportunity for me to practice who I really want to be.

I am over the moon with the outcome, not just because my phone is coming back, but because it shows me just how much I have changed and how empowering it is when you understand you have the power to choose how you respond.

Because I was not walking around with my bottom lip dragging the ground, my phone was returned with no loss of money.

And I received a phone call later that evening with a new 6 month contract for a writing gig. Something I decided a couple of weeks back that I was going to start doing.

I think I’m kind of glad for that loss and lesson after all.

Life is so magical when you just get yourself out of the way of yourself.

Your Turn to Share Tips:

Have you ever learned a lesson from a loss before or used it as an opportunity to practice who you want to be?

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  • Johanna

    Read this with my heart in my mouth πŸ™‚ The very thought of losing my phone is like a nightmare – and it made me wonder how I would react in the same situation. I’m so glad you got it back, just goes to show the essential goodness that’s out there in the world. We did a three hour hike in Tasmania and the Hire Car campervan keys dropped out of our rucksack. We were on top of a mountain, miles from anywhere, no mobile phone signal. Sick with worry we retraced our steps, asked everyone else we met walking if they would please keep their eyes on the ground and as night was closing in we were about to give up. Then something magical happened. A woman came along and said her son had found them, *Under some boardwalks*. How he had looked *under* at that very point we will never understand. But yes, good and extraordinary things do happen. …BTW Well done on the writing Gig πŸ™‚


    • Caz

      It is yet another example of how many good people there are in the world. We are taught to believe that everyone is a threat and is out to get us, but this is a prime example how this is so not true.

      Your story is amazing. A shining example of the magic that exists in our world. Thanks for sharing, it gets me excited when I hear stories like that


  • Jen

    So glad your phone turned up. It’s hard not to overreact isn’t it.

    I went for an internal job interview a few years ago which I thought was a dead cert but someone pipped me at the post. I was initially upset and so on, but decided that I would focus on the positives. I was lucky that I had a job to go back to and after doing some research on the internet, found a course that I wanted to do and got work to agree to pay for it. They might not have done so had I not got the job.


    • Caz

      Everything works out in the end. Another example of how important it is to focus on the positives. There is something at play that knows better than us and we have to learn to just trust it.


  • Michelle

    That really stinks! I was just at LAX and found a phone sitting right next to me. I ran to the gate to find the guy but the agent said the flight already left. I gave it to her though.


    • Caz

      Maybe that was my phone!! Good for you, a great thing to do.


  • Lisa Wood

    Oh wow that is so very cool! I love that you let it go and your phone made it back to you – gold πŸ™‚

    Will be using this next time that something happens….actually will be taking this lessons learned idea for anytime that I need to remember that Shit Does Happen!

    How cool is that – a writing job for six months! Love it πŸ˜‰


    • Caz

      It is pretty awesome Lisa! Such a great feeling to know that you can control your own life, especially when the shit happens


  • Marina

    Love the little lessons that life throws at us.
    I keep telling myself when the overwhelm crazy feeling heads towards me that I don’t need it anymore. I think of my kids and what I’d tell them “Take big breaths like you are blowing out your birthday candles” (which gives me more time to stop and assess as there are so many candles now lol!) and I can stay calm and move on.
    Once you get into the swing of it – the overwhelm doesn’t even bother showing up YAY!
    So glad you got your phone back Caz πŸ™‚


    • Caz

      I like the idea of thinking about blowing out your birthday candles Marina! Thanks for sharing. You need to always pause and think so you can respond rather than react.


  • @adamsommer

    I always joke that there are two things I can’t travel withour: my passport & my phone! I can figure out just about any issue with those 2 things…so I feel for you in losing that phone!


    • Caz

      I know. We have all become so dependent on them! Thankfully it came home


  • Sabrina

    So easy to fall into bad patterns of thinking: great work on stopping yourself from going there. I need to try that the next time I frame myself as a victim instead of a victor. What kind of person do I want to be and how can I put that into practice?


    • Caz

      I don’t know why it is easier to fall into the victim role. For some reason society seems to favour this way of being. It takes the same amount of energy to choose one or the other.


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