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Is losing a cell phone good or bad? That’s a tough call: Chuck Yarborough

September 23, 2018

Is losing a cell phone good or bad? That’s a tough call: Chuck Yarborough

CLEVELAND, Ohio – It’s no fun becoming a statistic.

Consumer Reports National Research Center said that in 2015, 2.1 million cell phones were stolen, and another 3.1 million were just lost. The numbers are declining a bit, but that was no comfort to me last Sunday night, when I lost my mobile link to the world at the Ozzy Osbourne concert and became a part of that numerical universe.

At first, it was OK. Even better than OK. After an instant of panic, of feeling alone in a sea of 20,000 people, I convinced myself I had just left the phone in the car. If you’ve been to Blossom – and I’ve been there enough in the last 25 years to qualify for a homestead exemption on my taxes – you understand why I decided no way was I gonna walk to the lot to retrieve a silly phone!

So I sat there, listening first to Stone Sour, then to Ozzy, and gloating more with every decibel. Smug me thought for the ten millionth time how ridiculous all those fans were, trying to watch a great concert on a 5-inch screen. A concert like that should be savored, not saved. You don’t try to re-eat a perfect steak, right? Ick.

If it were up to me, I would side with artists like Chrissie Hynde and Bob Dylan and ban cell phones. Of course, I would also require people to get their news from newspapers, fact-check before posting on Facebook, never mix stripes and plaids and petition the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to remove ABBA.

Now, to be fair, I record shows my own journalistic way -- with notes on each song. But after all these years, I can do that in the dark, and I rarely rely on the notebook anyway. Instead, I opt to write the reviews that night, while the show is still fresh in my mind and my ears are still ringing.

Ozzy Osbourne says goodbye - sort of - in Blossom season finale.

So anyway, I’m there smirking, drinking in the show and being glad I was close enough to see everything, yet too far to be reached by Ozzy’s pit-soaking firehouse. There were no buzzing work emails, no Facebook or Twitter or Instagram alerts. It was just me, Ozzy, Zakk Wylde and the screaming guitar solos that will make me wholly deaf in the near future.

Afterwards, I felt guilty as I made my way in the dark to my car (Dear Live Nation: You’ve GOT to do better about lighting the pathways to the parking lots. And why don’t you run shuttles, like they do at amusement parks?). We’re supposed to tweet and post during concerts. Folks in management and on the digital side say it’s because that’s how we’re connecting with today’s audience.

Clearly, they’ve never been to a concert, where the usual “connection” involves a drunken fan, a spilled $10 beer and a newly soaked reporter’s pad. Personally, “Paranoid” Chuck (see what I did there, Ozzy?) thinks the bosses want to be able to ping my phone to make sure I’m actually on-site and working. And besides, with 20,000 people in a confined, remote area, there’s usually so little bandwidth that posting and tweeting are impossible anyway.

But all that was moot Sunday night with no phone. I was not concerned, though. I KNEW it was in the car, probably in the passenger seat, where I’d rested it while it charged on the way to the concert.

Uh, no. I got back to the car, pulled out my emergency penlight – (P.S. Live Nation: Lights in the parking lots would be a good idea, too, if for no other reason than safety) – and proceeded to pore over the interior of my little Subaru, Forester Gump, like Diogenes and his lamp looking for an honest man . . . with the same results.

I considered trying to search for it between the lots and the pavilion, and decided that at that time of night, that would do no good. So, I drove home alternating between trying to figure out what I was going to write, and how I was going to tell my bosses I’d lost a company iPhone.

It’s amazing how quickly the euphoria of being freed of the shackles of instant communication can be replaced by the terror of wondering if I’d have to pay for a replacement. It made writing the review a bit of a challenge, to say the least.

I finally got to bed at 3 a.m., and was up by 7:30, sending emails to my bosses, our IT department and my friends at Live Nation to see if by chance someone had turned in the phone.

Oh, and to see just what good that “Find my iPhone” program would do. It did locate the phone . . . somewhere on the Blossom grounds. Yeah, that narrowed it down. All I had to do was find a tiny black device the size of an overgrown Lego somewhere on 800 wooded acres. In the rain.

Fortunately, Live Nation’s Megan Ditton emailed me right as I was preparing to head for the Union Workers Memorial Bridge between Valley View and my home in Garfield Heights. Her co-worker, Wendy Bascombe, had the phone in the Blossom administration office! It’s amazing how quickly you can get to Blossom when there’s no concert traffic.

So now, I’m back in the cyber world. Yay, right? Uh, yes and no. I mean, it feels good to be reconnected and all that. And having the tool to do a big part of my job is great. But . . .

I recognize in retrospect that the peaceful night and early morning, with no “ding!” or “bzzzzz!” from the dog leash masquerading as a phone, was comforting. Somewhere amid the worry and panic was the realization that the disconnect – however temporary – gave me back to myself.

So it got me to thinking: Is it possible to lose a phone twice? I mean, statistically speaking?

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