Have I mentioned I’m a collector?

It must have been four or five years ago that I started finding them. I don’t recall why I stopped and picked up that first one. But I did. And that was it. I was smitten by a fascinating new hobby. No. Let’s call it what it is: a searing passion.

I collect cell phones that I find in the bike lane — or it’s probably more accurate to say I collect parts of cell phones that I find in the bike lane.

No, don’t send me any old cell phones you have lying about. I don’t want those. I collect only those that I find myself. In the bike lane. It’s a niche hobby.

What’s that? You’d like to see them?

Really? You’re not just saying that?

Oh, you’re so kind. Sure, come this way.

Watch your step.


OK? … Behold!

Jaw-dropping, I know. As I said, this represents perhaps five years of diligent work.

This is not an easy hobby. It takes patience, a sharp eye and practitioner who really needs a life.

I think there are eight to 10 phones here, but it’s hard to say, since I just toss them in a box when I find them, and later it’s hard to remember which parts went with which other parts. I think, perhaps, the real thrill is in the finding, not so much in the actual collecting and cataloging.

Like disasters and deaths of famous people, these finds often come in clusters. One summer, I found three phones in the stretch of a couple of months. Other times, I’ve gone years without finding one. Lately, in fact, I had almost forgotten I actually practiced this hobby. I hadn’t come across one in a couple of years.

Then, one day about two weeks ago, I’m rolling along to work and … A-ha!

I hit the brakes, turn into the first curb-cut I come to and circle back slowly on the sidewalk. Yup … well … maybe. I think this was a cellphone.

The thing I always wonder, though, is: How did this phone get here?

My first thought is that it belonged to a cyclist-blogger who was trying to take a photo while riding his bike. But these are mostly prehistoric phones that don’t have cameras. So I’ve considered other scenarios:

  1. The old mental lapse in which one leaves one’s phone on the roof of one’s car before getting in and driving away.
  2. Leaving it on the dashboard on a warm summer day and watching it sail out the open passenger window during a hard left turn.
  3. Hurling it out the open window during an angry argument with a spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend/teen-age child/parent/customer service representative.
  4. Hurling it out the open window in angry frustration over a poor connection/cutting-out/loss of service (although if this were the case, I’d surely be finding more iPhones*).

And another thing? Why so many Nokias? By the way — geez — were those old Nokia’s big! Maybe people just got tired of hauling them around, and had to pitch them overboard to save weight. Man, did people ever try to put these in their pockets? And to think how we must have marveled over them at the time (circa 2005): “So miraculously compact! How do they do it?”

Here’s one of the Nokias compared to my current crappy phone.

Wait! Does that say “MADE IN USA”? Whoa.

Only one of the gutter-phones looked to be in anything resembling working condition when I picked it up. That would be the sexy blue Kyocera in the first photo. Here it is again in case you missed it. “No way!” says you, “You found the sparkly metal-flake blue one?! Get out!”

I think I once had a bike with a finish like this. Adorable, isn’t it?

I found this one morning on my way to work, stuck it in my bag and forgot about it. Later that day, I was toiling away at my desk and suddenly my bag rang. I remembered the phone, pulled it out and tried to answer.

I could hear someone faintly on the other end. After I listened some more, I thought I could hear two separate conversations. But none of those several other people on the phone could seem to hear me. Something had clearly been knocked haywire when this thing hit the pavement at 40 mph.

By the way, if you have lost a phone and recognize it here, go ahead and drop me an e-mail. I’m happy to get it back to you.

* Harmless Apple joke not to be taken overly seriously by hardcore Apple fans. In fact, I’m one myself.

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