cellphone file

I have joined that unenviable list of people who have surrendered their emotional lives to that device from hell — the cellphone. It’s the devil, I tell ya.

I didn’t think it would happen to me, but I suffer from a malady with the acronym FOMO, the fear of missing out. I swore it would never happen to me. I mocked people with signs of FOMO. I can’t anymore.

After returning to my Baton Rouge office from a yawner of a business meeting in New Orleans, I reached for my phone. I couldn’t find it. I hurriedly searched the company vehicle I had driven, but there was no phone to be found.

I searched my office again. No phone. I was starting to panic. Was I missing phone calls, text messages and tweets?

I called the restaurant where I had lunch. The place was closed. What kind of restaurant closes at 3 p.m.? Dang it. Eventually, I was able to reach the manager of the facility where the restaurant is located. He had someone look for it. No phone.

The manager said he would have someone look for it the next morning. The Next Morning!!! I thanked him and started to sweat. Somebody was going to get into my phone and find out I had millions of dollars. OK, a couple hundred.

But more than that, there are photographs of my grandkids, my children, my wife and I on vacation and sometimes being stupid. And, there were the phone numbers, contacts, Facebook friends and coded passwords for the myriad things I deal with.

I was a mess at home that night, wondering if I should close all my credit card accounts. Whose phone calls and texts were I missing? Hell, I couldn’t raise political hell on Twitter. Sure, I could have used my laptop, but the phone is the favorite communications pony that I like to ride.

In a January 2018 Psychology Today article, the author asks readers: “Would you like to be smarter, more empathetic, and have better relationships?” You can have all that if you “disconnect from your smartphone.”

The author, Anna Akbari, added that there is a word about the fear of being without your phone called “Nomophobia.”

With all due respect, Dr. Akbari, you need to get a life. Or have better relations with your phone. Come on.

All I could think of was someone using my phone to steal my identity. Wait, I thought, let them try that; they would return my phone or destroy it immediately.

The next morning, I got to work and called the restaurant. I know the woman that answered could hear the anguish in my voice when I asked was a phone discovered there the day before. In a pleasant voice, she said no phone had been turned in the prior day or that morning.

Then I began to suspect and dislike her wait staff. It was on my suspect list. My phone had to be there.

I was debating whether to purchase a new phone. There was no way I could go another day and night without one of those little devices. But before doing that I went back to the vehicle I had driven the day before.

I was resigned that it would be my fifth and final search. I looked everywhere. Nothing. As I was about to give up, I looked under the back seat one last time. As I was leaning over, the sunlight reflected off something silver, wedged between the backrest and the sidewall of the vehicle.

It was the phone. My blood stopped. I felt light-headed. I wanted to jump up and down like a football player after scoring a touchdown. I think I started to levitate.

I was euphoric when I ran back to my office. But then I had to deal with the bad thoughts I had about the restaurant folks. I called to say I had found my phone. I felt good about that.

For the next few hours, there was nothing anyone could do at my office that would give me pause. I was in cellphone heaven and all was right with the world.

By the way, I am not seeking a cure for my FOMO. I’m good with it.

Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly column, at epratt1972@yahoo.com.

Ed Pratt: My grandmother's rebellion, in a walk in downtown Baton Rouge