Lucky Lotto Day in Redding

My newish iPhone 6 was nowhere to be found Monday morning, so I fired up the “Find my iPhone” app on my iPad. The phone was located about three-fourths of a mile from our house in Sunset Terrace at the extreme north end of the adjacent subdivision, and it was on the move.

I assumed it had been ripped off Sunday night from my work vehicle parked in our driveway on the alley—the motion detector light had gone off at about 10 p.m., Hazel barked a lot, and this morning the door to the vehicle was unlocked. I kept monitoring the location of the moving iPhone, and at one point it appeared to stop near the abode of friends Jim and Sarah.

Minutes later Jim and I were preparing to go into the oak and chaparral behind his house to look for The Usual Suspects (if you know what I mean). But never mind—I saw on my iPad that my phone was on the move again, had crossed Eureka Way, and was making its way southward up Ridge Drive. I took off in my vehicle hoping to put eyes on the dude who had my phone. Meanwhile, my wife Elise was on the phone with RPD—they were going to try to hook up with me somewhere. A rendezvous was not going to be easily arranged with me on the move and lacking my mobile phone, but RPD seemed eager to catch one of The Usual Suspects red-handed.

I got to the point on Ridge Drive where my iPhone was supposed to be, and start scanning for one of The Usual Suspects. Instead I see a City of Redding recycling truck, and say to myself, “Mmmmmmfffffffffffff.”

Someone in our house (we both deny responsibility) put a load of recycling in the bin Sunday night, which got picked up Monday morning, and now I’m watching on my iPad as my iPhone make the rounds in East Redding. I’ll admit that the odds are stacked against it having been my wife instead of me who put my phone in the blue container, for various reasons that don’t need to be listed here.

Thirty minutes later I’m changing into clothing suitable for digging through a mountain of recycled bottles, newspaper, cardboard and cans, and stuff that’s not supposed to go into the blue bins, people. I’m told the truck will be arriving at the transfer station in about 30 minutes, and then the pile of recyclables is mine to mine.

I drafted the remainder of this essay on my iPhone.

When I got to the transfer station there were already four guys digging through half of the truck load—they figured the phone had been in the back of the truck with the stuff that had been picked up early in the driver’s route, so they had him dump half a mountain to sift through, rather than the whole mountain. They had already located the portion of the pile created by those of us who live on Redbud Drive, but we weren’t finding the phone or any of our household’s recyclables in spite of the search image I suggested: Look for Deschutes Pinedrops IPA bottles.

I’d been there about 45 minutes when the head guy in the sorting facility walked up with something that was covered with crushed glass sludge and asked, “This it?”

It turned out my phone was in the half of the load that they hadn’t set aside, and he had gone upstairs on the off chance that our pile was the wrong half. The phone had gone up a conveyor belt to the sorting area and through the glass crusher, and was found in the midst of the broken glass. There’s not a scratch on the iPhone, but the Lifeproof case’s screen looks like it’s been attacked by clan of rabid badgers, or a school of angry piranhas. Hey, I’ll take the replacement cost of the case over buying a $600 replacement phone, and count myself lucky.

The experience provided some take-home observations.

First of all, I learned that I’ve allowed myself to fall into the prevailing mindset that our local transient population is to blame for everything. I was quick to assume that because my mobile phone was missing, a transient had stolen it. Later, I deservedly felt like a jackass calling RPD from the landline in my office to tell them that my phone was riding around town in back of a recycling truck and eventually to the transfer station, and that filing a police report wouldn’t be necessary. At least the dispatcher got a chuckle out of my embarrassment.

Second, I admit that if I’m being fitted for a tailored suit, I hang toward the side of defending public servants. Not blindly, mind you, but I assume that the majority of people who work for a living—including public employees—are trying to do good work. Even so, I arrived at the City’s sold waste transfer station fully expecting to be told, “There’s the pile that came in on that truck you were tracking on your iPad. Knock yourself out.” I was wholly unprepared to have four guys, including two supervisors, digging through the trash with me. To those who make a habit of trashing everything that public employee say and do: I invite you to sit on your thumbs and rotate.

Lastly, I learned that my neighbors in Sunset Terrace and Sunset West have pretty good taste in beer and wine.

I’m going to break my iron-cast rule to never place bets on astronomically long odds, and go purchase a Lotto ticket.

Today is my lucky day.

Steve Towers

Steve Towers is co-owner of a local environmental consultancy. After obtaining his Ph.D. from UC Davis and dabbling as a UCD lecturer, he took a salary job with a Sacramento environmental firm. Sitting in stop-and-go traffic on Highway 50 one afternoon, he reckoned that he was receiving 80 hours of paid vacation per year and spending 520 hours per year commuting to and from work. He and his wife Elise sold their house and moved to Redding three months later, and have been here for more than 20 years. His hobbies include travel, racquet sports, taking the dogs on hikes, and stirring pots. He can be reached at towers.steven@gmail.com

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