Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Case of the Missing Cell Phone (A Study in Confirmation Bias)

Yesterday morning I couldn't find my cell phone. I looked everywhere. By that point I was running late and was unwilling to indulge the attention-seeking behaviors of an inanimate object that acts out its self-destructive tendancies by hiding in the laundry basket, so I went to school without it. Not a big deal, as quite frequently "lost" is really "forgotten at the office."

Not at the office either. At this point I developed a theory: This was the universe's way of getting back at me for refusing to wake up at 4am to give Timothy a ride to the airport; I insisted that the NSF could afford to pay for parking, and I needed my sleep. Yes, this must be it: karma revenge. On the ride home after dinner on Monday, my cell phone must have fallen out of my pocket in his car, which is now in long term parking at the airport -- and would remain there until this weekend. An email to Timothy was inconclusive; he didn't remember seeing my phone in his car.

Now, it's not like anyone (excpet my mom) calls me. Nor do I make many phone calls. But certainly if something terrible happened it would happen when my cell phone was missing. (I do not have a landline phone, something I regret only when I want to send faxes -- and when I lose my cell phone.)

Yesterday night another search of the house revealed nothing. Yes, the cell phone had to be in his car; I was absolutely certain. And there was only one solution: drive to the airport, find his car, and ransack it looking for the phone. So I parked in short-term parking (first 30 minutes are free) and went searching for his car. I walked up and down the parking garage, looking for his Honda Civic. (Cue scary music.) After 20 minutes or so, I found it on the roof of the garage. And there, on the passenger seat, was my phone. Yes, my crazy theory was correct.