Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - March 9, 2012


"No way!"

Sometimes I wonder what happens to socks once they leave our feet and enter the laundry room. Every couple of weeks, at least one sock goes missing somewhere in its journey from the washing machine to the dryer to the laundry basket to the sock drawer.

Recently, it was another item that went missing. Husband Art's one-gigabyte thumb drive had disappeared. He always carried it in his left-front pants pocket. But he isn't very good about taking everything out of his pockets before putting clothing in the laundry basket. So I knew it was very possible it had gone into the wash.

I had picked up the drive for free at an exhibitor's booth at a conference I attended last September. Art cautioned me when he saw it that more than a few people had contaminated their computers with a virus from such drives, so I just gave it to him. He cleared it and then used the drive to transfer data from his laptop computer at home to his desktop at work. So it wasn't that it was valuable or held important files. It was the mystery aspect. Where had it gone?

As soon as he noticed the drive was missing, he asked if I'd seen it.

"I can't say that I have," I told him. I have a hard enough time keeping track of my own stuff, so trying to monitor his is usually more than I can handle.

But I agreed to help. I first looked in the laundry basket and then inside the washing machine. I checked inside the dryer and on the floor. Nothing!

Meanwhile, he went through his clothes again and checked around and under the bed where he dresses and undresses. No luck there either.

We checked tabletops and under the living room furniture and even pulled cushions from the couches. Zip.

Every few days, he'd again ponder where it could have gone. But as the weeks passed, I forgot about it.

Then last week, youngest daughter Katie was home to do her laundry. After retrieving her clothes from the dryer, she came upstairs and announced with an ear-to-ear grin, "You'll never guess what I just found."

She hadn't even been aware that her dad had the drive, much less that it had gone missing. So she was startled when Art said, "My thumb drive?"

I heard the exchange from the bedroom and came out to see her holding the shriveled-up object.

I have no idea how many wash and dry cycles it had experienced before it came to its final resting place, stuck tight to the side of the dryer. Katie had seen it and snapped it free.

Art laughed when he saw it. Then, after pausing a moment, he said, "I wonder if it will work. The dryer doesn't get hot enough to damage any of the electrical items."

He sent Katie downstairs to his bench to fetch a pair of side cutters. When she returned, he immediately put it to use cutting away the plastic from the end that held the connector.

"No way," I said while watching.

Once the connector was free, he booted his laptop and plugged the drive in. The green light buried below the melted plastic immediately lit up and the screen announced there was new hardware. An instant later, it asked what program he wanted to use to open the files it contained.

"It works!" he said triumphantly.

I just shook my head.


Left-to-right: drive as Katie found it; cutters and plastic parts cut away from the connector; the green light indicating all is a "go;" an image on the drive.


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