We’ve all seen those posts on social media… “Lost my phone, contact me on Messenger”, “Left my phone in a taxi, contact me by carrier pigeon”, and so on. It’s an unfortunate situation that happens often, which seems like a silly mistake until it happens to you…
I planned an evening photoshoot of the Eiffel Tower; My mother and I hopped into an Uber and we were on our way. After a short 10-minute ride and conversation with Farid, our Uber driver, we exited the vehicle, and closed the door. The car drove away as I walked toward the security line, tripod over my shoulder.
With security presence everywhere in Paris, the entrance to the Eiffel Tower was gated with security checkpoints as if you were trying to board a plane. I emptied my pockets, and couldn’t seem to locate my phone. Perhaps I subconsciously gave it to my mom while adjusting my tripod strap… she didn’t have it either.
I frantically looked at my Apple Watch, and showed the icon I dreaded seeing – no iPhone connection. I must’ve left my phone in the Uber! We frantically left the security line and are standing at the taxi stand where rideshares and taxis drop off passengers. I quickly had my mom open Find My iPhone, and there it was… it was heading towards the Champs-Élysées.
“There was no way I’m getting that back…” I thought to myself. I enabled Lost Mode to lockdown the phone, and sent endless pings to get the attention of the driver. This was a case of Schrödinger’s phone – would my driver acknowledge and attempt to return the phone, would he take the easy route and steal my phone and report that he couldn’t find it, or would another passenger find it and take it for keeps? After about five minutes of tracking my phone, I had considered trying to follow the phone as a last ditch effort.
We ran to the departures taxi-stand and asked if a taxi driver could follow a point on a phone to track the driver. After going through three drivers, one agreed to take us on a joyride through the city. As we hopped in the car, I started seeing my phone head directly back to the Eiffel Tower. Did the driver acknowledge he had my phone?!
Shortly after, I received a call from my own number on my mom’s phone. It was Farid! I told him that I could meet him at the spot where he dropped me off, and he showed up about three minutes later. I handed him a generous tip, to which he tried to decline, but eventually accepted.
This was the best outcome that could have happened. Had I travelled alone or not had Find My iPhone set up, it would’ve been impossible to retrieve my phone.
Lessons Learned and Special Thanks
While traveling, make sure that you have your possessions on you wherever you go. Have a contingency plan to track a lost phone in the event that you can attempt to recover it from an honest person who may have it in their possession. Special thanks to Farid for driving all the way back to the Eiffel Tower to bring me back my phone. Also wanted to extend a shout out to T-Mobile for having a plan that allows for free international data roaming, and a cheap calling rate (I only spent $3 on a roaming phone call rather than $800 on a new phone), and lastly Apple for making the Find My iPhone feature fast and easy to lockdown and ping a phone still online.
TL;DR: Left a phone in an Uber, frantically pinged it, threw a Hail Mary, and got it returned to me unharmed. Lesson learned: don’t laugh because it could happen to you.