Classic Max

A Moment Of Wonder

A story about a lost phone.

Max Olijnyk

Photo by Max Olijnyk

My friend Liege puts on these monthly hip-hop parties in the city. He's been doing them for a while now, they're really popular and all my friends go; but I've never been. I tried to describe to him the mysterious circumstances that lead to my regular non-attendance: "Either my dad's visiting, or I'm sick, or something happens," I said to which Sam, who was sitting nearby, added: "Or nothing happens." That's very true, actually. Nothing happens a lot.

So last Saturday, I finally went along. It was fun, too. I drank a lot of beer, had yelling conversations with my many friends, and was profoundly moved by Shimmy Shimmy Ya. On my way out, I bummed a cigarette and smoked it with gusto. All was well until I was on the way home in a taxi and began to green out. "I'm going to be sick," I calmly stated to the driver. He promptly pulled over, allowing me to empty my stomach in the gutter while leaning elegantly out of the cab. The whole thing was over in a matter of seconds and although I had a few sticky reminders on my jeans and the cuff of my jacket, none got on the taxi's interior. Classy stuff.

Upon waking the next morning, I immediately knew my phone was missing. A few laps of the house confirmed this, and I became gripped by a tense, confused urgency. It was still early, so I drove to the site of the spew, figuring the phone had perhaps fallen out of the cab when I lent out. I half expected to discover it veiled under a blanket of sick—but no such luck. I couldn't even find the vomit. Truth be told, I wasn't exactly sure where to look.

I returned home and consulted the lost property section of the taxi company's website. It told me to report the phone as missing with the police. The guy in front of me at the station was complaining loudly about his wife's restraining order or something, so I did my best not to antagonise him with my waiting style. At that point, it would've been really great to have my phone to study intently. Instead, I looked at the walls like an idiot. While I was filling out my report, another guy came in and reported his phone as lost. We compared tales, which were identical apart from the fact his was an older model phone than mine. I'm not sure who wins that competition—probably me. Who would bother to report a missing iPhone 4s?

After the grueling experience at the cop shop, I bought some groceries and contemplated my next move. I began to adjust to the idea of buying a new phone, wondering if it was in fact an exciting prospect, before deciding that it wasn't. The old thrill of a new Apple product has been replaced by a simple feeling of entitlement combined with a growing suspicion that they are making us all experience our lives in the same way. Then I bought a cheese pie, ate it and drove home again.

Back on the computer, I explained my quandary to Sam, who is always online. He is almost like the voice of the Internet for me; like Scarlett Johansson in the film Her. After expressing amusement at my story, he remembered there being some sort of app that finds your phone. I told him that sounded great but the point was I had lost my phone, so I could hardly download an app onto it that helped me find it. Try it anyway, he wrote. I did as he advised, and in a moment of wonder that struck me as incredibly futuristic, I watched as my missing phone downloaded the app from my computer. Does that make me sound old?

The graphic of a compass spun slowly on my computer screen, before a green dot landed on a map, locating my phone at either 11 or 16 Braden Street, Sunshine West. I could zoom right in on it. "fuck!" wrote Sam, then "wow," then, "fuck tho." "'might head there now," I wrote. "shit," wrote Sam. After getting in the car and realising I didn't have my phone to tell me where to go, I ran inside and printed out the directions from Google Maps—old school style.

During the half-hour drive to Sunshine West I pondered the different ways this caper could go. Hopefully it was the taxi driver's house, in which case the phone was still in the cab and he hadn't seen it, or he'd found it and was making me sweat for a while, or he'd scooped the phone for himself. The other scenario was the phone had been found by another passenger, who had taken it back to their Nazi compound deep in the western suburbs, where they lay in wait for me, armed to the teeth. Or the Nazi had found it covered in vomit on Lygon Street. I meditated on these things as I drove, my eyes darting to the directions I had printed out, which had fallen on the floor of the car.

Luckily, it turned out to be one of the less Nazi-heavy scenarios. There parked on the front lawn of the otherwise unremarkable frontage of 11 Braden Street was a yellow cab. I knocked on the front door and waited for an eternity. I was halfway through writing an overly complicated note to the driver when the door opened and there he was in his pajamas. After apologising a few times, I explained that I had left my phone in his taxi the night before. The man looked at me blankly, before I added that I was the guy who spewed in his cab the night before. "Ah yes, you were very drunk," he said, which broke the ice. "How did you know where to find me?" he asked, scanning the horizon for drones. I liked his pajamas. I explained the app I had downloaded and he shared in my wonder at the future we live in. Then he went inside to get his keys, unlocked the cab, and sure enough, there it was on the floor, my precious device. I had brought along a bottle of wine to offer the man as a token of my appreciation, which he refused. "I don't drink," he explained, milking the situation for all that it was worth. "At least let me give you some money," I said, "I was sick in your cab, and I woke you up on a Sunday. I'd like to give you something." The man looked at me for a moment, then smiled, shrugged, and said "okay, if you like". Pleased with myself, I took out my wallet, opened it, and asked if he had change for a fifty.

Max is a Melbourne writer and photographer. He's also one of the few people who can tell a non-boring story about being wasted.

Follow Max on Twitter: @maxolijnyk

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