When Eric Boehs saw the garbage truck coming he panicked. Desperate to get the trash carted away, he ran to get the bags, setting down his own bag, his iPhone and iPad.
What happened next has disappeared into an anguished blur of guilt and confusion. All Eric knew was that when the mists of his memory cleared, there were two things missing: The iPhone and the iPad.
Being a switched-on guy, Eric fired up his Mac and used MobileMe's Find My iPhone service to pinpoint his iPhone on Google Maps. His phone and the garbage truck were parked outside Hooters. The crew, presumably, were enjoying "lunch."
After 45 minutes, the phone still hadn't moved, so Eric and his friend Billy jumped in his car and started to follow the iPhone using Billy's iPad, with videographer Kyle Roberts following along.
Meanwhile, the trash crew had finished lunch and were on the move. Billy and Eric were trying to close the gap but they were up against the clock.
Every time Billy pinged the iPhone to get its location, the battery would be drained a little more. Soon, the guys caught a break, and the truck stopped again, maybe for another snack, or maybe the crew was done for the day. It was just three streets away.
Find My iPhone App, MobileMe Website Can Track Gadgets
Eric was pessimistic. "I think the iPad's gonna be cracked in half," he said. Billy thought it would be covered in grease.
Ground zero. The guys arrived at the iPhone's reported location, but there was no trash truck. Eric used MobileMe to tell his iPhone to beep. This can be done from both the MobileMe website, or the new Find My iPhone app from Apple.
The advantage of the web version is that you can stay signed in if you need to switch away from the page. Eric and Billy were using the web.
They were in a motel parking lot. The dumpster there came up empty, so they set the beep again and stared listening at doors. Nothing. They spoke to the neighbors.
One of them wasn't too happy about them filming the whole operation. "Dude, surely you're not filming right now," he said to Kyle, "I'm wanted by the law." Kyle blurred his face from the finished film.
iPad, iPhone Found But in Bad Shape
Eric and Billy were determined. They knew that the iPhone at least was nearby, and likely the iPad with it. They found some friendly guys from a roofing company taking a break and asked them if they'd seen the phone.
"You got a white one?" the first roofer asked, grinning.
"It is!" said Eric.
"It got ran over?"
"Hell, open your trunk!" called the roofer at one of his coworkers.
"I got an iPhone, and an iPad. One of these guys," said Eric, pointing at Billy's iPad.
"They both got ran over?"
The roofer pulled them both from his cab and showed Eric the tire tracks on both. The iPad and the iPhone were never even on the garbage truck. The roofers had found them in the road and, thinking they were maybe broken, tossed them in the cab. Eric was of course very happy, but there was one mystery remaining.
"I have to ask you guys a question," asked Kyle, "Did you go to Hooters earlier today?"
"Yes," said one roofer.
"Where do you think he's gonna want to eat lunch every day?" asked another. He was still drinking from a Hooters paper cup.
And the i-devices? Not so good. The iPhone was obviously still working, as it had faithfully sent position updates back to the mother ship, but the screen was crushed. The iPad was broken in a far more unusual way.
Whatever had driven over it was heavy enough to crush the aluminum unibody casing so hard that it was stretched over the parts inside like it was vacuum-formed. The screen, although popping out at the edges, was completely unscathed.
What have we learned? That Find my iPhone works great, that the iPad screen is tougher than it seems, and that roofers like a little scenery when they eat their lunch.