A losing battle

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We all have things dear to us that we fear losing.

Our jobs, our loved ones, our minds.

But after a recent adventure, I’m putting a child’s wallet top of the list.

A ridiculously expensive wallet, actually, purchased on whim during an overseas school excursion.

Deceptively priced in euro, as it turned out, so that the cavalier nature of the expenditure was camouflaged.

Having done the currency conversion, I can now confirm it cost enough to prop up Spain.

But hang that cost. And hang the cost of the mobile phone that was in it. Let’s instead focus on the other items that went AWOL. In particular, the driver’s licence with home address printed clearly on it, and the house keys.

That’s where ‘‘loss’’ and ‘‘losing it’’ collided and the adrenal gland really started pumping.

Somebody, let’s brand them a ‘‘psycho’’, was now potentially out there armed with our address, keys and a SIM card to post on social media their ransacking of our house. Or worse.

I won’t go into ‘‘or worse’’, except perhaps to say that it’s not paranoia if it’s true.

And looking back, I remember the day had been going so well the day the wallet died.

The sun had been shining. The birds had been singing. Channel Nine’s coverage of the Olympics hadn’t begun yet.

And then the phone call. “Guess what?” A broad-spectrum ice-breaker I’ve come to dread. “I lost my wallet on the bus ... I think.”

My immediate thought: ‘‘There goes the phone.’’

Not that it would make much difference, I reflected.

One of the great ironies of the must-have technological age is that you arm children with enough communication devices to launch an invasion.

And then, perversely, they never answer when you ring. To quote Professor Julius Sumner Miller: “Why is it so?”

I tried ringing the person now probably in possession of my offspring’s android for an answer. Alas, no dial tone.

This suggested to this techno detective that the phone had been de-SIM-ed, further indicating the wallet was, contrary to wishful thinking, not lying somewhere unthreatening to our home contents insurance, waiting to be discovered and returned.

Rather, it was in someone’s hands. Someone evil, no doubt. So I rang up our telco to put a bar on the phone. Despite what Jack Bauer, James Bond and other espionage types suggest, I couldn’t globally track the location of the phone, nor organise for it to explode when placed to the ear of whoever had it. But I could bar it.

And, given the personal details available, I could also organise new locks for the house and one of those shark-proof security screen doors.

And then we could wait, with pitchfork in hand, for whoever had our details to make their move.

Which we did. And during those fun-filled days we pondered deep breathing, hand-to-hand combat and the chances of that wallet ever being returned.

The default answer was, of course, never. My faith in humanity on this front was lost many years ago. Shame on me. A week later the school rang to say someone, a street angel no less, had returned the wallet and contents, minus $3, to the front desk.

We opted not to press charges for the three bucks but instead marvelled at the miracle of lost and found ... before pressing ahead with getting the locks changed.

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