“Follow the GPS” or how to find your lost phone in Valencia

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Ever lost your phone in a car, while sitting in the (co-)driver seat?
It happened to me yesterday. My phone had fallen out of my pocket and vanished underneath the taxi seat. It had fallen through the space in between door and seat, impossible to reach, so I postponed. „I’ll do that in a moment“ and then you get into a conversation and have instantly forgotten about the thing you really wanted, no needed, to do. Some of you might relate to that. In my case, that was reaching for my phone as we got out. And I noticed only after the taxi was gone… Yeah, bye bye. But let’s start from the beginning.

The more crazy part of a Sunday evening that had started slow, began after some Agua de Valencia and Mojitos. My brother Alex was in town. Since it was his last evening and we had not made it to go out clubbing the night before, we decided to give it a shot. I still had a list for parties for Saturday / Sunday evening and off we went. We got a cab to take us to the first location. It seemed most promising, since it had a stylish flyer for that night promising good beats.

After a 10 minute ride, we stopped in front of a run down building and only found the club after after a brief search. It was difficult to spot, because it was closed. Lights out and shutter down and all. On to the second location we went, 1km on the same street. Convenient! And also closed. The third club on my list, you guessed it, also closed. When we reached the last destination, I had to get out of the car briefly to check. When I saw the closed venue, I briefly muttered a curse under my breath, got back in and dropped my phone. “Mi telefono” I told our driver and pointed under the seat, he nodded. On our way back, we started chatting amiably. Our driver explained to us, that on hot days such as this, when everybody spends the day at the beach, the clubs sometimes don’t open. People are too tired to go out anyways. He was a nice guy and since Spanish is still not easy for us, we also were quite concentrated (and proud) as we conversed with him.

Half an hour later we got out. We had tried to party, but party had evaded us. We started to walk home and after a few steps it hit me that I had forgotten something. Upon realization we rushed back to the street. To no avail, of course. The taxi was long gone. We googled for taxi companies in Valencia, found about ten different ones and Anna called the first one, only to be not understood. Naturally we also tried calling my phone, but no luck there either. I hardly ever answer it anyways, so for the most part I mute it. I imagined it ranging silently, illuminating under the seat, but undetectable unless you peeked under the co-driver seat directly. Our taxi driver had definitely already forgotten the brief nod he had given me. Somebody would discover it days, maybe weeks from now while cleaning the car. In a nearby hostel the friendly receptionist translated for us to one of the taxi companies via phone. But nothing. Crestfallen we went home.

I need my phone for work. In the morning I would report it stolen to my company and I looked for a nearby store where I could buy a new one. We checked Google Maps and the familiar pulsating blue dot greeted me, indicating my position. But the location was off. I looked again and then it dawned on me. The position was my phones GPS signal. It was sitting there at a square a five minute walk from our apartment. Our mood improved in an instant. One moment Alex was brushing his teeth, the next we were out the door, laptop in hand. We ran towards Placa de la Reina.

Five minutes later we arrived. Since it was Sunday night, only a few taxis were around. We scanned them all, but our previous taxi was nowhere to be found. I opened my laptop and Anna activated her mobile hotspot. “I am down to 15% battery, better find it fast”, she told me.
Google Maps reloaded and the location jumped to the University. Of course. He had moved.

Nearby taxis were lining up and waiting for customer. We approached the first driver. To my surprise Anna explained to him in almost fluent Spanish, that we were looking for my phone in another taxi. At first he only told us to call the cab company, but when we entered his taxi instead and told him to drive there, his demenanour changed. “Follow the car? No! Follw the GPS, OK?!” As he accellared down the alley, I noticed he was wearing race car driver gloves. “How stragenly fitting”, I thought to myself. Out of a whim I closed Google Maps and navigated to Googles “Find my device” page. Our driver glanced at the position on the map determined and stepped on the gas.

We flew through the night. “Wow, 100 Km/h” our driver exclaimed after racing down a midtown bridge. Anna and Alex sat in the back tense, silent, excited. I kept hitting reload on my screen. The reloading was painfully slow and failed frequently. „Scheiße“, our driver commented frustrated. I laughed and heartily agreed and then the signal came back. He turned the car around. “It is close! What car was this?”, he asked us while we sped down the alley. I suddenly realized how lucky we had gotten. He was just the man for the job. Not only was he concentrated, he was invested, he was giving it all! And he knew some German. “Danke.”, I said. “Kein Problem.” He answered as he scanned the street for the taxi we had been chasing for the last 10 minutes. I followed his gaze and noticed that there was no navigation system in the car. Our driver was street smart and he ignored speed limits for us. We were all on a hunt now. We were praying for the other driver to take a break. How long would he keep moving?

„Schneller“ (eng: faster) our driver exclaimed when the signal updated. But this time it had not shifted far. Our driver almost used his handbreak to make the next turn as he took a right. Half a minute later we saw several taxis. And there it was. The taxi in front of a midnite coffee shop that looked just like the one we had hailed earlier. Our prayers had been heard. The driver was getting a late night coffee and had stopped here for a break.

Anna and Alex jumped out of the car, rushing to the taxi and signaling its driver inside. As he saw us, bewilderment, confusion and recognition registered in his face all at once. He instantly caught on and opened his car, already reaching under the co-driver seat. When he pulled out my phone form under the seat, we all cheered as delight and relieve flooded in at the same time. We had really found him and had chased him down in time. While our current driver explained the situation, I showed our previous driver my open laptop that was displaying the map. “GPS!”, I told him. He smiled and handed me my phone. I looked at it, “Your phone battery is critically low”, it said on the screen.

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On the way back I asked for the name of the taxi driver that had saved the night for us. We connected on facebook and all of us jested the whole way back. We were all over the moon. The next morning I woke up and found a facebook post on my wall from him.

Taxi

We will never forget you as well. What a night, what a ride, what a taxi driver.
Here is to you Marco. Thank you so much for finding my phone with us.

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