The Safe Place

By Janey Womeldorf

The Safe Place

I recently put my cell-phone charger in a “safe place.” It was during our last move and I knew my fully-charged phone would last until the new house. The safe place is a spot that exists in every home, similar to the Bermuda Triangle. Growing up, my Mom was forever putting stuff there – most of it never to be seen again. If we had ever found her safe place, it would have felt like Christmas.

Years ago, my husband lost his favorite rain jacket. We ransacked the entire house searching for it, but with no luck. Winter turned to spring, but never a week passed without one of us suddenly blurting out, “What about in that old backpack?” These outbursts would occur at the strangest of times, in the weirdest of places, like the frozen-chicken aisle. It plagued us for months until finally we broke down and bought him a new jacket. We were still racking our brains even as we waited in the check-out line.

Two years later, my husband was at work, walking to the toilet, when out of the blue, a voice in his head blurted, “It’s in the side pocket of the golf bag.” That night, he raced home, jumped out of his truck, and pulled out the long-ignored golf bag, sadly relegated to the back of the garage. He ripped open the pocket and there was his rain jacket, in the same place he had put it two years earlier – for safekeeping.

We opened a bottle of wine that night to celebrate.

My parents were on vacation once, sharing a two-bedroom, one-bathroom suite with another couple. On the first night, my Dad took out his false teeth, as he does every night, and went to bed. In the morning, the teeth were gone. He swore he took them out in the bathroom but despite a thorough search, not just of the bathroom but of the entire suite, the teeth were nowhere to be found. Finally, they called off the search and prepared breakfast. Oatmeal anyone?

Shortly after, Dad sat down to read the newspaper. “I found them, I found them,” he hollered. Everybody ran to the scene, eager to know where. Apparently, when he went to bed the night before, he didn’t want to leave his false teeth out for the other couple to see, so he put them away in a safe place – he put them in his eye-glasses’ case. Strange, but nobody thought to look there.

Meanwhile, the search for my cell-phone charger continues. I know I would not have packed it in one of the ubiquitous brown boxes destined for the attic, never to be seen again. No, I’m smarter than that; it has to be in a safe place somewhere.

The single bar on my cell phone warns me the end is near; two hours later, my battery makes its final beep and dies. Reluctantly, I drive to the phone store, shocked to discover a new charger costs almost as much as a new phone. Unwilling to admit defeat, I leave my phone for them to charge and head home for one last, desperate search of the house. The next day, I return to collect my charged, but ultimately-useless phone, and accepting defeat, hand over my credit card for a new phone and charger. My dissonance is excruciating. I try to shake the frustration consuming me but it’s useless. Misplacing an item is exhausting – it doesn’t even seem to matter what the item is.

At work once, I lost my favorite pen. Despite the millions of others that live in the coffee mug, this was the one I always reached for. It was the right weight, didn’t slip, and I think it even improved my handwriting. Then one day it was gone. I felt gutted – even my work suffered. Later that week, I went to the office kitchen, opened the fridge door, and there was my pen, chilling away on the top shelf. “Who put my pen in the fridge?” I barked.

The pen story had a happy ending; I wish I could say the same for my new phone. The buttons are too small, it has none of my numbers stored, and I can’t work the functions properly. I am driving myself mad with my own whining.

Two days later, we have unpacked the kitchen and sit down to our first meal in our new home. Cooking it took longer than normal – I couldn’t remember what lived where. I reach for plates to find glasses; plastic containers fill the cabinet where I expect to find pans, and one time, I am standing in the kitchen talking to my husband when I reach above my head to open a cupboard that is no longer there; he pretends not to notice. Suddenly, I blurt out, “What about the fire-proof box our passports are in?” I am still consumed by the missing charger. He dashes off, but returns empty-handed. My heart sinks.

A week or so later, just as I am getting used to my new phone, I am washing dishes when it happens. “Check the concertina file you put your bills in,” the voice in my head booms. I can barely contain myself and dash to the desk still wearing my rubber gloves. Seconds later, I bounce back into the kitchen, jubilantly holding my old cell-phone charger like a trophy. “I found it, I found it!” I cry.

“Where was it?” my husband asks.

“In the concertina bill folder,” I reply, “filed under Visa.” I remember thinking that my Visa bill would be due at the same time my cell phone would probably need charging again. My husband’s face twitches, and I watch his lip quiver as he fights to resist commenting on my logic. Not wanting to burst my bubble, he simply smiles. I try to sound cool as I announce, “See, I told you I put it in a safe place.”

It felt just like Christmas.

About this writer

  • Janey Womeldorf Janey Womeldorf once went to work wearing different shoes. She now freelance writes and scribbles away in Orlando, Florida. It’s probably best.

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One Response to “The Safe Place”

  1. Joanne Gillespie says:

    I really enjoyed this article. Some ppl say that we only use about 10 percent of our brain power…I’m not so sure. I think that a lot of work is going on all the time in the deep-down areas. You send a message…I need to find my phone charger…the neurons spark…and sometime later, the info is retrieved…and relayed back to you at whatever time…the middle of the night, or in the middle of doing the dishes. In the visa file though…that IS orignal!

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