A couple of weeks ago, I was rushing through the TSA checkpoint at LAX to catch a United Flight to Honolulu. In the chaos of shoe removal, scanning, bin shoving that endows the modern air traveler with that special sense of savior faire I left my iPhone 5 somewhere.
Settling into a relatively new Boeing 747 I soon discovered I was missing 4 ounces of expensive silicon. Not wishing to alert my traveling companions to the situation – and thereby receive 4.5 hours of spousal lecture and general familial abuse – I kept quiet. After takeoff, I coyly pulled out my iPad and connected to the inflight WiFi Internet service; which, considering that it must be provided by a geo-sync satellite was remarkably responsive.
I was able to launch Apple’s “Find My Phone” from 35,000 feet over the Pacific and verify that my trusty, $600 communication device was still in the terminal. I was also able to cause it to shriek and to send an alert to the screen asking whomever might see it to email me about the status of my device. At that point I sat back for a long wait, fully expecting to get no response or perhaps a taunting email from some thief who had run off with my property.
But no! The Shift Supervisor at Terminal 7 took the time out of what must be another hectic day at TSA to send me this:
This is TSA we have your phone contact TSA lost and found at 310 -555 -XXXX Monday through Friday 8AM to 4:30PM. I recommend wait until Tuesday for your property to be picked up and taken to our Lost and found facility.
Wow! I was amazed. Hurray for hardworking government workers who care! Really.
Of course, I had business to do and Facebook updates to make so I couldn’t be without a phone. Landing in Honolulu, I put off visiting Mom for a bit and dashed to the local ATT store to get a new phone. No problem! And while I was there I renegotiated my rate plan and picked up a new iPad with cellular data while still lowering my payment. On to Mom and Facebook.
The only glitch came when I contacted TSA to get my phone back and they recommended me to the friendly owner of a local UPS store who was willing to pick lost things up and ship them. Regrettably, the fellow wanted me to email him all my credit card info. Understanding how terribly insecure email communications are (can you hear me now my buddies at the Chinese Ministry of State Security?) and how vulnerable his PC stuffed full of people’s unencrypted card numbers is, I refused. I called him and tried to give it to him over the phone. No luck. I lectured him on PCI compliance (the credit card industry standards for security which I’ve been working with recently on an app project). The very busy gentleman refused to get it. Oh well, he will have his “mini-Target” moment someday and be out of business.
I eventually arranged for a prepaid FedEx pickup with the very helpful gentleman at TSA lost and found and my son ended up with yet another hand-me-down phone upgrade. Everyone’s happy, mostly. Sometimes our modern world actually works exactly like it should!