A Lost iPhone & A Chance Encounter


Can a single Catholic make a connection without taking a risk?

It was Saturday night in Santa Monica. The sidewalks and restaurants teemed with hipsters and vagrants. Music blared out of pubs. My friends and I had just finished sipping C’est La Vie cocktails and were walking back to our cars several blocks away. 

At the corner of Main and Pacific, we stepped into the crosswalk. That’s when I saw it: something black and rectangular in the middle of the street. I picked it up. It was an iPhone.

Someone must really be stressed right now, I thought. I swept my finger across the screen to reveal a photo of a pretty blonde woman flanked by an older couple. Her family, I assumed. 

I tried to make a call on the phone to find its owner, but access was blocked. Password protected. I couldn’t call to return it. But I couldn’t just toss it back on the pavement either. So I held on to it, hoping someone would call soon.



After saying goodbye to my friends, I got in my car to head home. A few minutes later, the iPhone buzzed. 


“Hey,” an anxious female voice said from the other end. “Do you have my phone?” 

I told her yes, and I’d bring it to her. So I turned the car around, and for the next five minutes, we stayed on the phone together as she described her location. As I drove, I kept her updated on the cross streets I was passing on my way to her. I was getting closer.

“Thank you so much,” she kept repeating. 

Finally, I arrived at the destination and spotted her: the blonde from the iPhone screen, standing on the corner, friend’s phone pressed to her ear. We caught each other’s eyes.

I pulled over, parked my car, and got out. We walked up to each other and I handed her the phone. She thanked me profusely. We stared at each other.

“I’m sorry, but…can I hug you?” she asked. 

So we reached out and pulled each other into a soft hug. Two strangers embracing quietly on the packed sidewalk. We separated, then stood there in silence, wondering what to do next.


Divine appointment?

What’s the protocol in this situation? I’m single and she seemed cool. And we’d been brought together by serendipitous circumstances.

Should I ask for her number? See if she wants to be a Facebook friend? Something?

I didn’t want to let the moment slip by. But I also didn’t want her to think I was a sleazebag angling for her number. So I just smiled…and got back in my car. 

As I drove away, I watched her disappear into the crowd in my rearview mirror. And I wondered: Did I just miss an opportunity? A divine appointment?  

If it was truly God’s will that we meet, couldn’t He connect us again in the future?

Of course.

But what if He had just orchestrated this meeting, and I blew it? 

Maybe I played it too safe. After all, we can’t expect God to work in our lives if we just stand back and do nothing. Or as an old preacher friend of mine said, “God can’t steer us if we’re not even driving the car.”

Looking back, what’s the worst that could have happened? She wasn’t interested and I felt rejected for a few hours? Or she said she had a boyfriend and that settled that? Who knows? We never even exchanged names.

We were just two strangers connected by the chance drop of a cellphone. Maybe it could have been more. Guess we’ll never know. 



  1. Adam-841816 April 23, 2012 Reply

    This is a timely article. I had a somewhat similar incident last week, where I didn’t ask for contact info, and I’ve had some regrets about it since. I can empathize with the author here!

  2. Anne-840248 April 17, 2012 Reply

    Chris, as I didn’t have time to complete it, here is an addendum to my earlier posting. As he held my hand, I looked down, not knowing what to do. There had been a true presence of God throughout our uncharted duet, but- My husband and I were separated and that still meant married. I couldn’t have a new relationship for a long time. My husband was the love of my life, truly, but we just didn’t live well together even though we had tried to for 32 years. Shortly after this church event, my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. We were together for the last 2-1/2 years of his life, we held hands at the last moment. I could never have been there or cared for him if I had followed on the other experience. God puts us exactly where we should be. I have never regretted my later decision. God is truly good and merciful. Another way to see you experience is that perhaps God has something more significant for you.


  3. Anne-840248 April 17, 2012 Reply

    Dear Chris,
    Perhaps God will again put this lovely young woman into your life. After all, you were in the same area at the same time. What harm is there is going there again to see if she will be there? She knew you were a decent person because you returned the phone promptly. I had a missed opportunity several years ago. I attended Mass on Palm Sunday and happened to sit in front of a very attractive man of the correct age for me, being in my late 50’s at the time. It was time to sing the responsorial so I opened my mouth to softly begin when I heard a magnificent tenor voice behind me. I sing alto. Throughout the Mass we matched tone for tone, creating a transcendent experience. At the kiss of peace I turned to shake his hand. He clasped mine in both of his and looked directly into my eyes, holding me by the heart. I couldn’t say anything. We both looked away and that was the end. After communion I looked for him but he was gone. We never know what gift God will present to us. So keep on looking. Maybe you’ll see your lady again. If not, know that God is never late and will take you to the perfect person. God bless you.

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