Smartphones, Lost Portfolios, and Toilets

Years ago, shortly before graduating from college, I was heading to an interview for a photo editor position with what I thought was the key to my future: a dynamite portfolio. In those days, putting together a photo portfolio was time-consuming and costly. It may be difficult for the digital generation to appreciate that. Back in those days, there was no digital. A portfolio consisted of a leather binder with a dozen or so meticulously printed 8×10 black and white shots (yeah, I’m really dating myself now) that would hopefully wow the interviewer and land me the job. Before getting into my car, I had placed the portfolio on the roof of my car while searching for my car keys. I found my keys, got into the car, and drove off, confident in my sport jacket and tie that I would soon land a great job. Only one problem: I had not retrieved the portfolio from the roof of the car.

To make a long story short, I arrived at the interview; unfortunately, my portfolio did not arrive with me. Try explaining that to the interviewer. “Well, it was here when I last checked. No, seriously. It’s actually a pretty good portfolio. Really, you’d like it…if I could only show it to you.”

On my way home from a very short interview, I found my portfolio a block away from where I started. To be sure, it had that distressed look, having been run over by a dozen or so vehicles (the tread marks clued me in on that). And I think it must have been garbage day because the top cover of the binder had been torn away by something much heavier than a car. C’est la vie. Back to the dark room…and the job classifieds.

Things are much different today, sort of. In that same situation today, sans “hardcopy” portfolio, I could still have shown my photos by using my smartphone to access my Mozy Sync folder and then I could have forwarded my portfolio to the person giving the interview, impressing him with not only my dynamite portfolio but the convenience of Mozy Sync and the power of the Mozy mobile app  as well. Of course, that assumes that I actually still had my smartphone.

 As much as things change, in some ways they still remain the same. Take for example leaving my portfolio on the roof of my car. Would you believe that leaving your smartphone on the roof of your car and then driving off is one of the more common ways of losing your phone? If you don’t believe it, then you haven’t lost your smartphone that way…yet.

 In a recent article published by Consumer Reports, “Setting your phone on the roof or hood of the car while you strap your kid into the car seat, load the groceries, or take off your jacket is a common mistake. You might not notice the phone is gone until you reached your next destination, and if you remember before then, you might find your phone sitting damaged on the road or in a parking lot.”

According to the Consumer Reports National Research Center, a projected 3.1 million smartphones were stolen last year. But those 3.1 million smartphones are just the ones that were stolen. According to a Mozy study, thieves aren’t to blame for most smartphones that end up missing; it’s the owners of the smartphones who are to blame. They’re losing their phones. That’s right: 70 percent of people who carry around portable devices have lost a data storage device. But losing the device really isn’t the worst of the problem.

Although the average cost of a lost item is $220.15, it’s not just the value of the item itself that has an impact. Of those who have lost a portable device, 57 percent said that they were more upset about losing the data on the device than losing the device itself. In fact, the Mozy study found that so strong is the desire to hang on to our smartphones—and the pictures, contacts, and messages on them—that 93 percent of people who have dropped one down a toilet have attempted to retrieve it. Eww.

So, where are the most likely places that you will lose your smartphone? Based on the findings of the Consumer Reports National Research Center, here is where you should make every effort to keep a firm grip on your phone:

  • Public transportation
  • Airports and airplanes
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Retail establishments
  • School property
  • Amusement parks
  • Hood or roof of a car
  • Public bathrooms

As I reflect on that interview of so many years ago and consider the fact that far too many smartphones are lost in public bathrooms, I can’t help but smile knowing that I would never have lost my portfolio in a toilet. It was way too big to fall in.