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There's no ringing in my ear

One recent morning while walking across the parking lot into work, I felt the need to stop and rummage through my large tote bag.

The laptop was there. So was the wallet. But where was my phone?

My phone!

Back to my car I went. Perhaps it had dropped out of my tote onto the floor. No phone. I looked through my tote again. No phone.
I looked through the tote again once I reached my desk. No phone.

Panic may be too strong a word to describe how I reacted, but I found not knowing where my phone was to be quite unsettling.

So I picked up my desk phone and called my husband on his cellphone. Yes, he was home. And, yes, my phone was there, too.

I was relieved, of course. But I then realized how weird it felt to not have my phone within reach (even though I often get annoyed at seeing my daughter staring at her phone screen).

I asked a few friends how they feel when they realize they don’t have their cellphones with them.

“Naked,” said one.

“It wouldn’t bother me,” said another. Then again, unlike the rest of us, she is one who rarely uses her cellphone.

But a third reflected some of what I was feeling that day.

“My first reaction would be to panic, thinking I had lost it. Then after backtracking and realizing it’s just sitting on the counter back home, I’d think: ‘Oh boy, what goofy things are the kids doing with my phone' – when the password is shut off?” she said.

“Then it would be: ‘Oh no, how is X, Y or Z supposed to get a hold of me? What if my parents, a doctor or the kids’ school is trying to reach me?’ But there’s no way I’m calling every single person on that long list to let them know – probably just the spouse and parents,” she continued.

“After that feeling wears off, relief would set in. Ah! A, B, C can’t reach me today. Ha! Then I’d bask in the freedom,” she said.

Not surprisingly, studies have been done on the topic of people and their connection to their cellphones.

Two years ago, Newsweek reported on a study out of the University of Missouri that found when researchers separated people from their iPhones, “the poor phone-deprived souls performed worse on cognitive tasks.”

The headline on the article was this: “Our iPhones, Ourselves: Cellphone separation anxiety is real, study finds.”

Newsweek also reported this finding from the study: “What’s more, if participants’ iPhones rang while they were in another room and were therefore unable to answer, participants’ heart rates and blood pressure levels increased, they underperformed on simple word-search puzzles, and they reported feeling anxious and ‘unpleasant,’ ” the article continued.

Of course, I couldn’t hear my cell phone ringing from any room because it was 20 minutes away.

But it made think about how uneasy I was not having it with me.

It also reminded me that, when leaving my house or the office, I really need to do a better job of running through my mental checklist: laptop, wallet, keys and, yes, my phone.

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