Out of Pocket

In the past few years, the phrase “out of pocket” has taken on a new meaning among busy executives. “Sorry — I’ll be out of pocket this weekend.” My guess is that this is shorthand for: “My trendy iPhone/ Android/ Blackberry will be out of my pocket this weekend, so you, poor rube, will not be able to reach me.”

Out of pocket means something entirely different here.

I am the original pocket lady. In my absentmindedness I generally put things down without noticing; therefore, I like to have pockets so at least I end up carrying the items along with me. Whenever I lose something, my husband asks patiently, “Have you checked your pockets?”

My problem in winter is that I am wearing so many layers that the number of my pockets explodes. Four pockets in my jeans. Two pockets in my sweatshirt. Six pockets in my coveralls. Two pockets in my down vest. Three pockets in my jacket. That’s 17 pockets, each one carrying its forgetful load of wrenches, snaps, screws, bolts, knife, and the occasional syringe. When I peel off my barn clothes at night there is a shower of hardware.

Often in winter I miss calls because I hear a muffled ringing and can’t unzip to the layer in which the phone is tucked before the caller gives up. Meanwhile I don’t notice particularly what’s going on with my outermost layers as I climb up and down the hayloft ladder, muck the stalls and push the wheelbarrow outside, wade through the snow to spread flakes of hay, or carry sacks in from the grain shed.

The three items I try hardest to keep track of day to day are my cell phone, my camera, and my little iPod Shuffle. My track record with all three is so poor that I’ve learned to keep them inexpensive. I buy used cell phones and cameras on Ebay for under $30. This makes the inevitable “oh dear” moments less painful.

Still, the past fortnight was notable.

I sat on my phone (in the back pocket of my coveralls) in the hayloft and cracked the screen, rendering it unreadable.

IMG_1569I lost my Shuffle. I found it a week later, frozen under an inch of clear ice in the barn paddock like Han Solo locked in carbonite. Obviously it had fallen out of one of my pockets. I chipped the Shuffle out carefully, dried it, and it still works.

However, in the days that I was looking for my Shuffle, I lost my camera. (“Gosh, it’s tiring to be me,” I told my husband.)

This morning I found the camera. It, too, had fallen out of one of my outside pockets into the snow. From the dent in its case, it’s clear something stepped on it. The lens was extended and the entire camera covered with snow crystals. I removed the battery so the lens couldn’t thaw and retract while wet. After chores I dried the camera carefully with a hair dryer. Again, I was lucky. Though the case is battered and the viewfinder badly scratched, the camera still works.

Here are the teenaged boys Mike, Leo, Marty, and Harvey this afternoon, clearly wondering with anticipation what will be “out of pocket” next.



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