I’m An Idiot: How OtterBox, the OneS and Google Saved My Bacon

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So about a month ago I lost my phone. Misplacing one phone is common enough, but at least you know it’s in the house, or the car or something, only to the extent that you have to think about it for a second to recall where it is.

Such was not this incident.

This was the weekend before Halloween, so we decided to drive out to “Bob’s Corn, Maze and Pumpkin farm” for some old fashioned pumpkin hunting and tom foolery. We, being my wife and 2.5 year old daughter. We rode tractors, played in the maze, and took lots of pictures and videos. Things wound down, it started getting a bit brisk and dark for a sub 3 year old, so we packed up and went on our merry way.

On the way home we decided to stop off for some ice cream (frozen yogurt technically, but lets not split hairs.) We ate some deliciousness and packed up to go.

Wait, where’s my phone?

An over tired child is nothing to press, so I did cursory checks of all my pockets and under the seats.With nothing being found and the pending Armageddon, we decided it would probably turn up like it always does and I’d find it at home.

Did I mention I’d forgotten to charge my phone? It had been angry running at around 10% all day.

After putting the kid to sleep, I searched. And searched. And searched. No friggen luck.

I immediately began looking in the Play Store for one of those lost phone apps. BUT OF COURSE they all require previous configuration.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t mention that cell reception out in farm areas isn’t spectacular- medium bars at 2g to be accurate. I was thinking this after pushing a couple of apps to my phone via the play store anyways.

So after some panicked googling, I re-found something I’d seen before: Android device manager. https://www.google.com/android/devicemanager

I hit the locate button.

Highway 522, Woodinville. Huh. Weird. Probably the last time the phone broadcast it’s whereabouts, and was practically dead.

I re-searched the car. My pockets. Pants I wore the other day. Tried to call it. Nothing. I called the yogurt place, no they hadn’t seen a phone, but would let me know. I called Bob’s as a hail mary. All they had in the lost and found were some flip phones (of course), but bless their hearts, they would let me know.

So I’m thinking this thing is gone gone gone, snatched up or smashed in some fertile mud. But wait, lets revisit that device manager thing.

Same location. I also noticed that the “Last located” is updated with the current time. Is my phone REALLY out near the Brightwater Sewage treatment facility? Is there a bar there some jerk took it to to fondle his spoils?

I located again after a bit. Same location. ACCURATE TO 6 METERS. In my experience of GPS, that’s pretty accurate (they can drift horribly depending on circumstances). It’d also been very consistent. Zooming in to the map on device manager, it showed the phone in the south bound lane of SR522- the route we drove home.

Faced with this, I set out on a 45-minute drive, armed with a flashlight, my wife’s encouragement and her phone (for screen shots of the location and GPS location.)

Maps don’t load very well in 2G areas, so I tried to zoom in and around the destination before leaving, but it still didn’t seem to load.

If you’re not familiar with the climate in Washington in October, it’s wet. Also, dark, pretty early. It was dark when I left, and even darker once I got out from under most of the light pollution.

Watching my location on my wife’s phone, I went north, got my bearings, and turned south at the closest intersection. I made my way south until I was not too far south of the reported location.

Have I described what SR522 is like out there? It’s very dark. No lights, other than oncoming traffic. Trees. The posted speed limit is 60 MPH.

So parked in the shoulder with my feeble flashers blinking, and started walking back north with my flashlight, scanning left and right; the perilous embankment of gravel and blackberries sloping down into soggy blackness to my left and 2 lanes of blacktop to my right. Calls to my phone only resulted in the sound of distant wind in the trees and passing cars. Trucks, it’s mostly trucks out there.

I was consoling myself that “Yes this was ridiculous, but hey, I tried, it was worth the drive....” when something caught my eye on the far side. Piece of a blown out tire? Junk from an accident?

NOPE. Just where the map said it was, there was my phone. Sandy, a bit damp, and completely dark, there it WAS.

That was a month ago. After I let it dry out and charge, it’s been as good as ever. The only damage I noticed were a couple of dents on the case screen bezel, and some minor scratches on the screen. But that might have been just me, and not a tumble from the top of a vehicle moving 60 miles an hour because some idiot was distracted buckling his kid into the back seat.

Thank you OtterBox (Defender Series) for being as tough as you say.
Thank you HTC for making a solid phone that stayed active for way longer than I thought it should
And thank you Google for making such an informative and useful app just built right into the phone.

Without all 3, THERE IS NO WAY I could have found this phone.