Would it be third time unlucky? I’m not sure what it is, there could be something in the air, but Zagreb and mobile phones, at least my mobile phones, don’t mix. If you had the option of either losing your passport, your wallet or your mobile, which one would you choose to lose. Of course, you wouldn’t want to lose any of them but I’m guessing that they would be in that order, with your mobile being the most “valuable” to you.
I just can’t seem to keep hold of my phone in the capital. On my last three visits I’ve misplaced my mobile twice and last week saw that rise to three times.
Once I left in a taxi, and then had to pay for the taxi driver to drive my phone across town, in what could be the only occasion that the passenger was called Huawei. The very next time, and in the height of the pandemic, I was catching the last flights back south and managed to leave my phone on the wrong side of the customs and security check. I remember searching my way through a blacked out airport looking for the blink of my lonely mobile.
And last week I was on another day-trip to the metropole, and yes you’ve guessed it ended the day mobile-less. I had been to meet the new British Ambassador to Croatia at his residence and of course whilst he was holding his welcome speech I put my phone on mute. The formal meeting ended and as the chit chat started I remember putting Mr. Huawei down on a table, he was still in silent mood.
After the meeting it was back down to the centre for a quick coffee with a colleague before rushing back to the airport. We had arranged to meet under the tail of Ban Jelačić’s horse. “Call me when you get there,” he had said the day before. Those proved to be the fatal words.
As I reached into my pocket for my mobile all I felt was a 5 Kuna at the bottom. As if patting myself down for an airport check I slapped all my pockets. The table in the residency popped into my head, and then the mute mood.
I emptied my rucksack, and apart from discovering a few lost facemasks and half a packet of Orbit, I had no luck. Had my luck finally run out? Was it going to be third time unlucky?
You really don’t realise how much you miss something that you just take for granted until it is taken away. I was cast back into the 1980’s when we all lived happily without our external brain.
I thought about finding a pay phone and calling my mobile – two problems a) my phone was on mute and b) payphones just don’t exist anymore. Or I could have borrowed someone’s phone and called someone else. Problem c) I don’t know any number of by heart! How many do you know?
“OK, let’s just order a taxi and go to the airport early and buy a new bloody phone in the morning,” I whispered to myself walking across the main square. “I can order an Uber,” I added. “Oh, no I can’t I don’t have the app!” If it’s true that the first sign of madness is talking to yourself then in a few minutes without my phone I had turned as mad as a hatter!
I trudged down to the taxi rank and jealously watched everyone else chatting and swiping on their phones.
If you are one of these tin foil capped conspiracy theorists who believe that the vaccine is a plan from Bill Gates to track us, then you clearly don’t have a phone! Everyone with a phone is carrying a homing device.
Strangely enough one of the worst things about being phone-less was the fact that I didn’t have watch. And as if to tease me even more the taxi driver had three mobiles hanging off his dashboard.
I arrived, depressed, at the airport and started the long wait. As I sat in the café bar I people watched, what else was there to do. And from the 22 people in the bar only 2 weren’t staring at their phones, these “odd” two were instead typing on their laptops. I was the only analogue coffee drinker.
As I walked up and down outside the terminal in a flash I saw a familiar face. Were my eyes deceiving me? “You left something in my car!” said the colleague from the embassy with a broad smile. The same colleague that had driven me from the reception in the residence to the centre. I couldn’t believe it! It was third time lucky! This incredibly kind colleague had almost arrived home when she spotted my phone. And then drove all the way to the airport to try and find me.
After I had thanked her a million times we joined the digital guests in the café bar, and I had re-joined them. My analogue days were over, at least until my next visit to the capital.
Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to