Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Tag, this is it.

     You find out about new products ... where?
     Well the newspaper, for us fuddy-duddies. Those big tech review round-ups in the Times. A constant stream of ballyhoo on Twitter and Facebook. What else? Billboards, I suppose. Television commercials, for those who watch television.
     Rarely...rare enough that I would remark upon it...do you learn about the latest technology by seeing it hanging on a hook in a store. Then again—and I don't think I'm alone here—COVID pretty much killed off the practice of aimlessly wandering around in stores, looking at stuff. You run in, grab what you need, run out. If that. Holding your breath, if possible. More and more, a brown box shows up on your doorstep.
     But my wife wanted to look at laptops. She wanted to lay her hands on the actual physical objects. And I go where she goes. So while she was poking around the dozens of possibilities at Best Buy, I sorta cruised around.
     Which is where I noticed the AirTag, Apple's gift for the forgetful. It's a small disc you slip into your wallet, or attach to your keys, or some other necessity you expect to lose at some point. The AirTag will then leave an invisible trail of electronic breadcrumbs so you can find it should mere memory fail. My first thought was that it could be used to track people too—just slip it in your pal's backpack—but the things are designed to thwart that, in theory. The discs will also let out a yelp on command. It's really worth glancing at the Apple page explaining it all.
     Not that I bought one. I wanted to. It seems a cool thing. But I couldn't think of what to do with it. Couldn't imagine having much hope of justifying the thirty bucks it costs by ever losing anything. I have a system of anxiety-fueled attentiveness far more advanced than mere Bluetooth technology. I've never lost my wallet in my life—I have a rule, for instance, when paying for something, never to set the wallet down. It's much harder to leave behind if it stays in your hand. That kind of thing.
     Yes, sometimes I'll tear my office apart looking for a certain book I know I have, or had, but can't lay my hands on at this particular moment, when I finally need it. But short of planning ahead and knowing I'll need that specific book and be unable to find it, and planting an AirTag inside the cover, I don't see how Apple can help me. Here persistence and patience—a shame Apple can't sell those for $29.99—usually win the day, eventually. There is a technique my wife taught me that I call, "The Thinking Trick," where you pause from frantically searching and try to recall the thing you are missing and when you last had it. 
If all else fails, there's strategic retreat—just waiting—the strategy my mother used to neatly summarize as, "You'll find it when you're not looking for it." 


  1. "You'll find it when you're not looking for it" leads me to ask, "In what place do you always find a lost item?" The last place you look of course.

    I had the tile app for a couple years, but it doesn't work with the thing I misplace most often, my glasses. As a nearsighted person, I often lay my glasses down to read something, then wander off, completely obliterating the memory of where I've put them and then frantically searching under every paper I could possible or not possibly have covered them with. The tile was a bit too big to attach to my glasses without looking silly or demented. I'll have to investigate the AirTag, but I'm afraid it will also be more cumbersome than useful. Apple has devised a neat way of finding one's phone with one's watch, which I learned from my daughter, but the one time I used it, the watch kept pinging loudly wherever I went -- needless to say, the phone was in my pocket, a pocket of my shorts that I don't usually use.



    1. I'm farsighted so my glasses are always on, but my iPad, a book, a magazine, etc...I'm carrying them around somewhere and set them down just when my attention has switched to the next thing I'm going to do and no memory of placing the object is registered. When I stumble on the item later, of course, it's all clear. Not being "in the moment" is the problem.

  2. My wife has actually compiled a list of the best areas to look for a lost object, so that we can organize our search when either one of us is frantically dashing about and tearing the house apart.

    It's posted on the door of a kitchen cupboard. The heading reads: "Places Stuff Goes Missing"--what a practical and sensible woman I married. Lucky me. But I haven't used it yet, because I forget it's there. Go figure.

    When I finally find something on the floor or under a table, after being so upset that I've overlooked it a few times, I'll often exclaim: "The kitty did it!" That lame excuse usually works.

  3. "You'll find it when you're not looking for it" has been my mantra to my wife for decades--and my final word to myself when I give up looking for something, a frequent occurrence at our house. One technique that sometimes helps is to walk to the other side of the room and turn around, a different point of view often does the trick. The other is to pick up that piece of paper that couldn't possibly have anything underneath it. Voila!


This blog posts comments at the discretion of the proprietor.