Yesterday, I accidentally threw my phone in the trash can at the edge of our block.
As I was walking home from work, in my usual social-justice-I'm-running-late-fury that is stoked by all the cat callers on our block, and my constant lateness, I noticed that there were flyers hung on our front gate. This is not unusual. One simply removes the flyers, and moves on with your life, gliding past the cheap coupon paper intrusion. But next to the flyers was a moldy-looking Under-Armor-esque shirt or leggings, I couldn't really tell. There was a spider living in it. So I picked them up, and removed them to the metal wicker trash basket at the corner of the block.
Shortly after, I discovered that my phone, which had been in my hand, was missing.
In the cleaning scuffle, the phone had ended up buried under the flyers in the litter bin. It remained there during Times Square checkout, during Mass, in fact it remained there until 7:45pm.
About three hours after the loss was noticed, I had retraced my steps everywhere, and I finally swallowed every bit of pride I had, and gingerly rummaged through the garbage, until I saw the little black brick perched on someone's old coffee cup, underneath the arachnid-infested garment.
I will most likely get some terrible facial STD the next time I hold the phone up to my face to make a phone call, but the prodigal little phone has returned to me, and I slaughtered the city's version of a fatted calf (a bodega baconeggandcheese) in its honor.
As I walked past the empty trash can on the corner of our block this morning, I was simultaneously filled with the retroactive fear and relief of a near miss.
First, I thought of how the phone would have been gone forever into the Manhattan garbage disposal system, emptied out of that corner trash can overnight, if I had been complacent about looking for it. If I had left looking for the phone to the next day, there would have been no more phone. And if I had not summoned up the humility to join the ranks of many city dwellers in digging through the trash for treasure, I would have never have recovered it.
Secondly (and this was actual what I thought as soon as I woke up this morning and hit the faithful old snooze button on the dear phone), it occurred to my mind, which is overly primed to see significance, that this might be a cautionary cell phone tale of how overly aggressive bouts of vigorous and undiscerning cleaning can be dangerous, causing us to accidentally throw out what is precious and beloved.