It’s not just the tile of a duet by Frank Sinatra and his daughter Nancy. It’s something we all do…at least occasionally.
Somethin’ stupid bit me last Friday as I left the office. I let myself get distracted. As Daniel J. Levitin (The Organized Mind) might put it, “I let my attentional system get overloaded.” I was just trying to do too many things at once. I won’t bore you with what they were.
I left my Macbook and journal (with a credit card inside) sitting on the roof of my car when I drove away from the office. Needless to say, none of those items were still there when I got home 15 minutes later.
The journal apparently blew off immediately. The Macbook, being a lot heavier, seems to have stayed put until I hit the 55 MPH zone. At that point, I heard something hit the drivers’ side of the car as a stream of traffic (three or four cars) passed me on its way into town. I thought that was weird, but I didn’t stop to check it out.
I realized what I had done when I parked in the garage and reached to get my laptop and journal from the passenger’s seat where they usually travel. Only they weren’t there!
I sped back to the office and looked around the parking lot. I didn’t find anything. I drove slowly back home, looking for the shattered remains of my laptop, but I didn’t find anything. So I set it up to wipe itself clean in the unlikely event it ever shows back up on the Internets.
Honestly, I was more concerned with the journal, which supplements my brain in so many ways, than the computer. The journal isn’t replaceable. It’s not that there is tons of useful (to anyone else) information in there. It’s that writing in the journal has become a system that helps me transfer information from short- to long-term memory. And I needed to go back over some of the things I’d written.
The Good News
It’s a good thing the credit card was in the journal awaiting transfer back into my wallet. Saturday morning, Suna’s friend Christi told her someone on a community Facebook group posted that the credit card had been found and was asking if anyone new the owner. Apparently my handwriting is too scrawly for normal people to read my name in the journal. Heck, even I have trouble reading my writing.
But that’s when I realized I had lost my credit card, too. I immediately turned it off even though there had been no unauthorized charges. You just can’t be too careful—no matter how forgetful you’ve become.
Anyway, Christi put us together with the journal finder. He had been outside the tire shop across from our office when I pulled out. He and a friend had “heard a noise” and decided to check on it. They found my journal with the credit card inside and started trying to find me.
The finder turns out to be another local businessman. He runs a concrete and metal building construction company and does other smaller jobs around town to fill in the time between building jobs. He has skills and has proven honest, without knowing how it could benefit him.
I see work for him and his company with us in the future!
And Then There’s Insurance
On Monday morning, I contacted my insurance company to see if the loss of the Macbook was covered under any of our policies. It was, unfortunately, it fell so close to the deductible as to make filing the claim more expensive than the benefit would be.
Following My Own Advice
As I said in the call-out, whenever you do something that makes you feel dumb, there are three steps to salvaging your feelings of self-worth:
- Figure out what you need to do to recover from any negative consequences.
- Stop the damage by wiping the computer (in case it was still usable and recovered) and turning off the credit card (even if late). There wasn’t a lot I could do about the hard-copy journal, except be grateful it didn’t contain any blatant compromisable data, just my short-handed notes. (I don’t really know shorthand, but my handwriting is bad enough it might as well be a foreign language.)
- Replace the lost items. The card was easy. The bank system replaces it automatically when you report it lost or stolen. The computer took a little time, but I ended up with a newer, more powerful one.
- Draw what lessons you can learn from the experience.
- Once the a credit card is reported lost or stolen, my bank won’t allow it to be turned back on for any reason. This policy is really in my best interest, no matter how inconvenient at the time.
- It is really good to have all needed business data stored “on the cloud.” I don’t have to worry about recovering any of my files.
- There are still a lot of good, honest people in the world, no matter how the evening news tries to sell the contrary view.
- Take steps to avoid making the same mistake. (This one is the hardest of the three.)
- Systems reduce the number mistakes. I’m not sure how to prevent myself from deviating from established systems (like getting into the car) in the midst of a chaotic and distracting universe, but I need to try.