Stick-N-Find is the technology for me, the perennial loser.
I don’t mean “loser” the way most people do, to describe somebody perpetually down on his luck, although that could apply to me too.
No, I mean it in the literal sense: I am constantly misplacing stuff.
My wallet, for example, goes AWOL a lot. In the winter, it’s easier to keep track of, jammed in my coat pocket along with various receipts, pens and lint. In the summer, though, it lives a third of the time in my car, a third of the time in my back pocket and a third of the time, I guess, on Tralfamadore, the alien planet in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” where earthlings are displayed in an intergalactic zoo.
With Stick-N-Find technology, I could affix a bottle-cap-sized disc to my wallet and then send a low-energy radio signal from my iPhone that would help me home in. (By the way, I’m not being an Apple elitist by name-dropping the iPhone, as it’s one of the few devices that can pick up on Stick-N-Find signals. Take that, Android users.)
The new gizmos were on display at a trade show in Barcelona, Spain, recently. My boss wouldn’t pay for me to cover it live, so I had to settle for an Associated Press story.
As soon as I read about Stick-N-Finds, I knew what they were: real-life versions of Spider-Man’s spider tracers, tiny metal arachnids that our hero sticks to suspects or on villains’ getaway vehicles so that he can find them later. Once again, life imitates art.
Currently, Stick-N-Find technology is prohibitively expensive. At $25 each, I can’t afford them for my wallet, car keys, television remote control, shoes, favorite shirt, dog leash, glasses, glasses case, stapler, tape dispenser, screwdriver and hammer. But if the price came down — say, to a dollar or two — I’d have more radio waves buzzing around my house than a 100,000-watt FM station.
With these little gizmos, I would never again search fruitlessly in a closet for my favorite tie only to find it draped around the dog’s neck two rooms away. Or locate the whereabouts of a shaving cream bottle inadvertently wedged behind two piles of clean towels.
I know Stick-N-Finds would also be great for my marriage, which is constantly under stress from the forces of misplacement. See, my wife is a loser too — otherwise, why would she marry me — compounded by her penchant for throwing away items of financial value
Many an early morning has found me Dumpster-diving in my own trash cans, separating eggshells, napkins and other refuse in a vain attempt to find an unpaid water bill or an important tax document. I pity clerks who must open return envelopes from Casa Schillig, smudged as they are with butter and grease, smelling like a troll’s unwashed armpit.
My wife’s greatest accomplishment (to date) was shredding one of my paychecks, thinking it was just a stub. I tried to tape it back together, creating a sort of Frankencheck, but the bank wouldn’t even consider it. I’m pretty sure the teller was laughing from behind her glass window.
Stick-N-Find would help me with my female Jack the Ripper by allowing me to affix homing devices to important pieces of paper and locate them inside the house (where they inevitably turn up) before I spend 20 minutes rooting through garbage.
Besides my wallet, the item I would most want to Stick-N-Find is a book, “1,100 Words You Need to Know,” a massive tome I use when teaching. That book is the literary version of Jimmy Hoffa, but unlike Jimmy, it eventually turns up — after I’ve bought a replacement. A few years ago, after a copy disappeared for months, I found it in a pile of books discarded by a colleague. Last month, after sending out an embarrassingly pleading email to fellow teachers, I found it stuffed between the pages of another, even larger, book.
A Stick-N-Find would have lopped hours off my search. Indeed, it wasn’t until I stopped looking that the darn thing showed up, which is always the way. There’s an old saying that lost items appear only when the devil is finished with them.
If that’s the case, I hope Old Scratch’s time with “1,100 Words You Need to Know” has netted him an impressive vocabulary, maybe one he uses while explaining my wallet to visitors at the zoo on Tralfamadore.
@cschillig on Twitter
Originally published March 7, 2013, in The Alliance Review.