Monday, 13 April 2009

Instinct and memory...

So it was a nice sunny day, one of the first of spring. In fact it was today. I put my lightest weight jacket over my t-shirt and strolled out of the door on my way to Homebase (because its a bank holiday Monday and apparently its obligatory to go to Homebase - OK, that's a complete lie, I almost never go to Homebase on a BHM or otherwise, but I needed a shower curtain as there were many and various alien lifeforms living on my existing shower curtain).

I wandered through the sunshine, under the underpass, up the steps to the bridge and down the slope to the retail park, pausing only briefly to retie one of my shoelaces (I can't remember now if it was my left or right). I was listening to lovely new music that I had downloaded from the internet ( and all was right with the world.

I carefully selected my new shower curtain, opting for a tasteful design with simple silver circles and marvelled at how expensive shower curtains are (relatively speaking) at Homebase. I went to pay. The kindly older asian woman wrestled with my debit card for about 5 minutes before giving up and directing me to another till. I was very puzzled about why she couldn't make my card work and why she insisted on bending it backwards as she put it into the machine. She looked suspiciously at the card and pronounced it "cheap". I was slightly hurt, I was amused to notice. I defended my poor First Direct debit card saying that it usually works and that I was surprised that it wasn't working now. In the end she directed me to the other kindly older asian lady at the next till and the card worked fine. Ha! I was right after all! And it was 20% off shower curtains today at Homebase, so it wasn't quite so expensive after all. I put my Ipod back on, thanked the till operator and left the store.

I wandered absentmindedly home in the sunshine, reaching into my pocket as I neared home to grab my mobile phone from my jacket pocket.

It wasn't there!

My mobile phone was gone! How?

My mind retraced my journey - how could my phone have left my pocket?

Could it have fallen out when I had bent down to retie my shoelace? No. I was far too careful and I would have noticed.

Could someone have picked my pocket in Homebase? No the kindly women on the tills would have noticed. The store was pretty empty.

What if it was a scam and they were in on it?

I checked in with my instincts - my gut feeling. I hadn't felt uncertain about any of these women, I had felt them to be trustworthy. My antennae had not been up at any stage. The clear message I got was that they had nothing to do with it.

But then my mind got hold of the scenario. "It must have been them!" it declared emphatically. "Didn't you think it suspicious all that messing around with your card. You are just naive to trust your instincts. That can be the only explanation. There is no other time when someone can have taken the phone out of your pocket and you know that it didn't fall out!"

I got home and called my phone from my landline. No answer. I left a couple of messages. I tried calling the store. No answer. It's bank holiday monday after all and I couldn't be doing with all the telephone trees anyway.

I decided that I was going to go back to the store and speak to the security manager and ask them to review the tapes. I was convinced that either a pickpocket had taken the phone in the (virtually empty) store or that one of the (seemingly) nice women on the tills had been in on a pickpocketing scam.

I wandered down the road and reached the edge of the parkland that I had walked through on my way to the road bridge. I suddenly had a fond memory of finding an abandoned (slightly broken) football there on my way to the shop earlier today and how I had run through the sunshine joyously kicking the football, running up and down the small hills as the ball flew sweetly through the air glistening wet in the sun, before I had abandoned it after 4 or 5 heartfelt thumps.

Suddenly the thought occurred to me that it was just possible that my phone had fallen out whilst I was chasing the ball. My mind told me that this was a bit ridiculous, as I hadn't really been running that wildly - had I?

I decided to carefully walk the area where I had been chasing the ball just for a few minutes - police search style. I did this for a couple of minutes. Nothing. Then in the distance - could that be my phone? Looks like a stick! On closer inspection - there it was - rather damp nestling in a patch of grass, gleaming wetly in the sunshine, protesting 2 missed calls and some answerphone messages, one SonyEricsson K800i phone. My phone.

I felt happy. I felt grateful. I felt foolish.

Why had I doubted my insticts about the kindly women at the shop?

How had my memory of the trip to the Homebase simply excluded the (joyous) incident of chasing the ball?

I shrugged and realised that this is what we are like. This is what I am like. I am a creature with good instincts who quite often discounts them. I am a creature whose memory like all memories is sometimes a little on the capricious side.

I decided that I would share this story with you in case it was of interest. Feeling a bit sheepish that this is rather a long post for a short pay-off, but hoping that you've enjoyed the journey nonetheless.


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