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the traveling smartphone

Story by Sam Duncan


Ashby Village has a special program, Drop-In Assistance, on the second Tuesday afternoon of each month, in which members can bring their phones, tablets, or laptops to the office and get one-on-one technical help on the spot.

One day a member brought in a printer that wasn’t working. Using my smartphone as a flashlight to look around in the printer, I saw an ink cartridge that had been dropped inside. I fished it out, turned on the printer, and it worked just fine. The member was quite happy. Several other requests came in as he packed up the printer and left.

A few minutes later I needed to make a call on my phone, but I couldn’t find it. Anywhere. Using another phone to call mine, I walked around Ashby Village offices, but I couldn’t hear my phone ringing. Fortunately, it’s possible to locate your phone by going on the internet and typing in “Find my phone” and that took me to an online map. To my surprise, my phone was wandering slowly down Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley! 


I thought I would wait for a while and see where it ended up. Thirty minutes later it had made its way to a house in the Oakland hills.

The member who had brought in the printer lived in the Oakland hills. I called him and asked if my phone was in his car, but he said that his daughter had driven him to Ashby Village in her car. I asked where she lived, hoping that the answer was close to Berkeley, but no such luck: she lived in Sunnyvale.

So I waited another 30 minutes to see if the phone had decided to accompany her to Sunnyvale. Fortunately, it was still at the member’s house. I called him again and this time he was the one now walking around listening for a ringing phone. After a few tries, he said “I can hear it ringing by my printer, but I don't see it!” Mystery solved, I thought. It must be where the ink cartridge had hidden. 

I drove to the member’s house, opened up the printer, and there it was. I had obviously dropped the phone into the printer while I was working on it. We had a good laugh and a happy ending: he had a working printer, and I had my phone back.