The Rockwood Files: Case of the mysterious ping

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

Recently I took a shower and stood under the stream of hot water trying to think up profound, writerly thoughts. But it was hard to concentrate because I kept hearing a faint yet high-pitched sound: PING!

I stopped shampooing so I could listen closely. Silence. So I went back to washing, but there it was again. PING! PING!

I cracked open the shower door and stuck my sudsy head out. No sounds. I retreated into the shower, wondering if I’d imagined it.

PING! I turned off the water, suddenly concerned it might be the smoke alarm trying to warn me of impending doom. Nope. Definitely not the smoke alarm.

PING! Just then Tom walked into the bathroom, so I called out to him over the shower door. “Do you hear that sound? Something is pinging. Is there an alarm going off somewhere?”

“It’s my phone, but I can’t find it.  So I’m using the find-my-phone feature on my watch to ping it so I can walk toward the sound.”

“Well, it must be in here somewhere because I keep hearing the pings. It’s interrupting my profound, writerly thoughts.”

He scanned the bathroom countertops and then searched his closet. PING! PING! The sound echoed off the tile floor.

“This is driving me crazy!” he said. “I had it on the bed earlier reading e-mail. And now it’s gone. I looked under the covers, under the bed, in the closet, beside the chair, – everywhere – but I still can’t find it.”

“Have you retraced your steps?” I asked.

“Yes! But still no phone. Every time I think I’m close to it, it sounds like it moves. I feel like I’ve lost my mind!”

“And your phone,” I added.

“Not helpful,” he said as he walked off toward the echo of the mysterious PING.

I rinsed off, got dressed and wrapped my wet hair into a towel turban. I found Tom standing in the bedroom and offered help. “Okay, I’m ready to join the phone hunt.”

“Too late. I found it,” he said.

“Where was it?”

“If I tell you, you have to promise not to say anything to anyone,” he warned.

“You do know I’m a writer on a weekly deadline, right? Just tell me already.”

“The phone was in my back pocket the whole time. That’s why I kept hearing the ping everywhere I looked.”

“Wait a minute. So, you’re telling me that your butt has been pinging for the past five minutes and you didn’t even know?”

“Well, the sound travels so it always sounded like the ping was coming from somewhere else,” he insisted.

“Yeah…like right behind you.”

“Don’t judge me. You lose your phone all the time.”

“That’s true. But in the South, there’s an old saying that goes ‘you couldn’t find your butt with both hands.’ Ever heard that one before? Because what just happened is pretty much the literal definition of not being able to find your own butt with both hands.”

“In my defense, I just changed the case on my phone and it’s much lighter now. I couldn’t feel that it was in my back pocket because it’s about the same weight as my wallet now. It felt like a wallet, not a phone.”

“A wallet that pings?”

“Yes, but that’s not the point.”

“Okay, we’ll go with that explanation when we retell this story.”

“You mean when we never tell this story?”

“Right, right. That’s what I said. I really need to make some notes before I forget this stuff. Have you seen my phone? Check your back pocket, just in case.”

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here.