Some time ago I acquired a new smartphone to replace my Star Trek–style flip phone. The ancient yet futuristic device had served me well since the Bush administration but it suddenly decided to walk off on its own to where phones go when you aren’t looking.

Since the advent of cell phones, I have lost only this one and, really, it was about time to lose it, cracked screen and all. However, I fully expect it to turn up when I figure out how to recover all the things that have crossed the event horizon and fallen into that black hole between my pickup truck seats. It may not be lost, just lurking in another universe.

Growing up, I never heard of anyone losing their phone. All our phones were tied to the wall, with a wire no less. Sure, sometimes my sister would leave the phone in a closet where she tried desperately to have a private conversation but if you knew where the wire was tied into the wall, it was a cinch to find the phone.

Mobile phones were known as “car phones” and these too were hard-wired to the car, but then some smart marketing person came up with the idea of making a losable phone — and not a cheap, disposable phone but an extremely expensive and tiny device that had a sleek look and a slippery finish with no knobs or convenient handholds whatsoever; pure marketing genius.

Suddenly, people started to routinely lose their phones. About this time I chanced to be at Washington Dulles Airport visiting my sister who worked as an airline ticket agent. She took me to a back office and on our way we passed a large bin, maybe 3-by-4-feet and of undetermined depth. It was full of cell phones people had left on the planes. It may have been a day’s or a week’s haul but some of the phones were beeping, obviously still charged, crying out as if they were lost children at the county fair.

I asked about the ringing phones. My sister just shrugged, noting that there was not enough manpower to have someone stand over a few hundred cell phones trying to guess which one is ringing. I never saw those phones again and, I bet, neither did the owners who left them behind.

My own daughter was an expert at losing phones. One rather pricey and hardly used model is lying in the tundra somewhere in the Alaska wilderness. Another is buried in the East Florida beach sands. She also had phones stolen and a super ability to destroy a phone in many different ways, like climbing a fence apparently using the face of the phone to protect her hands(?).

Her destructive touch waned when it was made clear that daddy would no longer be the bottomless well of new phones where she could drink her fill. Okay, that might be tending toward mean spirited so I would like to think that as she got older and matured, she became more aware of the cost of replacing a smartphone and accordingly adjusted her ways. But really, cutting her off from a free phone supply sped that maturity thing right along.

Consumer Reports National Research Center states that about 5 million phones went missing in 2013 to 14. These numbers indicate that the chance of finding a phone is pretty good.

Whenever I find a phone I thoroughly examine it for a label that says something like “If found, please return to…” but of course no one thinks of labeling a $300 to $900 device that is very easy to lose. They are more likely to put their name on a casserole dish or a folding chair they take to a party but not on a cell phone which is easily left at the party when you pal around with Jack Daniel. Phones always cost more to replace than their face value when you consider the time and hassle of recovering lost data, not to mention explaining what happened to your dad.

Since we won’t put our names on our cell phones, what can we do about all this loss? The first logical step is hitting up your dad with a sob story to see if you can score a new phone. It’s worked before. But if that fails, you might consider tying it to the wall, with a wire no less.