I Lost My Phone And My Life Flashed Before My Eyes

Not so long ago, I officially became a loser.

I did something I'd never done before, something I could never have even contemplated. Something so bad, it doesn't bear thinking about.  I lost my phone.

My fall from grace took place in a bustling airport. I was about to embark on a two-week work trip, which would see me step outside my comfort zone, work in a bigger environment and immerse myself in new challenges. I had butterflies, nerves and positive anxiety, but I was also looking forward to relaxing on the plane and spending the next four hours watching movies.

Checking in -- with my phone -- was a breeze. (Image: Getty)

I had arrived with plenty of time. I checked in at the kiosk, saw my luggage safely sail away on the conveyor belt, then made my way to security. It was when I reached for the phone in my pocket to place on a tray that I was confronted with the horror discovery.

'No drama,' I calmly thought. 'I've put it somewhere else.'  I left the security queue, standing off to the side to search my hand luggage.

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I searched again. Every bag, every pocket.. even the hidden ones. I patted myself down. I emptied my bags, shook them upside down.

By this time all my handheld belongings were strewn over the airport floor. There was nowhere left to hide. I had to accept the fact that I'd lost my phone somewhere between the check in kiosk and security.

Panic set in quickly. (Image: Getty)

I quickly stuffed everything back into my hand luggage and retraced my steps. There was still hope that it was lying on the ground in clear view, waiting for me to lovingly pick it up. Or sitting on a surface I had so carelessly used as a shelf. I had visions of my phone calling out my name, wanting me to find it, but I couldn't find my little buddy anywhere! That's when the panic really set in.

Not only was it my phone, but it was my lifeline. The cover was like a wallet. My only credit card, cash and driver's licence were all safely nestled inside. I was leaving home for two weeks with no money, no ID and no connection to the world.  The blood was draining from my head. The clock was ticking, I had less than an hour before boarding.

It was time to raise the alarm and declare a missing phone.  Airport staff were understanding but hadn't had anything handed in. Other passengers accepted my plea for help. One opened the Find My Phone app. Brilliant! Of course! But I couldn't remember my Apple ID and password. After three attempts with shaking hands, I was locked out of my own Apple account! Epic fail!

Sorry, haven't seen it. I'll call you if it turns up. (Image: Getty)

My life flashed before my eyes. What was I going to do? Everything was gone -- all my contacts, messages, apps and most cherished of all -- photos. Images of my Dad who had passed away only months before. Images of the European holiday I treated my Mum to after his passing.

When something so unexpected happens, is it human instinct to immediately assume the worst? To assume I'd never again see those cherished photos. To never again hear music I'd collected over the years.

My panicked mind did assume the worst... but after those heightened moments passed... my practical mind started to slowly regain control. All was not lost completely. Even though I hadn't backed up my phone for some time, I still had access to contacts through my work email. Cherished photos had been shared with family members. My apps were simply accounts I could open from any device.

Searching through my bag and retracing my steps proved fruitless. (Image: Getty)

By this time another fellow passenger had gladly handed over her phone so I could call the only number committed to memory -- my ex -- who dropped everything to come to my rescue. I will be eternally grateful for the emergency credit card she hand delivered.

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While fighting back tears, I boarded the plane. I didn't let my overactive mind spoil my four hours at the movies, but touchdown proved a major emotional hurdle. What's the first thing you do once you've landed? Reach for your phone.  The chorus of message notifications for my fellow passengers was deafening. I knew there were messages waiting for me that would go unanswered.

Checking into the hotel proved another hurdle. Fortunately they overlooked the fact I had no ID or credit card in my name. Then at 10 o'clock that night I headed to work, opened my email, discovered the contacts folder had all the phone numbers I needed. I made some calls and once again felt connected to my world.

Emergency over!

I learned something very valuable that unfortunate night.  I realised that my panic was grossly unfounded. The world around me was still turning. I was safe and unharmed.

My phone is still missing. But now I have another one. And while I guard it with my life, I now know I can survive without it.

Narelda Jacobs will be a guest panellist on The Project tonight at 6.30pm on TEN.