FACE IT: A Lost Love Need Not Be Human

We hear often about couples meeting and falling in love online. But what could be more modern than a love affair between a woman and the very thing that makes that coupling, and so much more, happen? Yes, this is a story about loving, and almost losing, an iPad.

Margo's story began on January 25th, after a return flight from Paris to JFK when, jet lagged and exhausted, she discovered that she had left her trusty mate on the plane. No, not her husband -- with whom she had just spent eight glorious days celebrating 44 years of marriage -- but the shiny and multi-purpose gadget that never left her side.

"Dare I say I might have been less upset had I left my husband behind?" Margo says. She continues with her saga. "I, after all, had gotten used to long hours without another human around, my artist- spouse often in his studio or galleries. But my iPad was always there: next to me at the breakfast table, in my classes at school (where I am a returning student) and, of course, at night in bed. It was loyal and reliable, a silent partner in late night reading and a secret one in daytime binge-ing. It never complained about its aches and pains and never passed judgment. (Unless you count auto-correct)."

Okay, it didn't have Scarlett Johanssen's voice, but for Margo, the iPad was HIM

So, you can imagine the emotions she felt when she realized she had abandoned it on a cold plastic ledge behind someone's chair, alongside a generic airline magazine and a vomit bag. But once the hours of guilt, anger, incredulity and frustration passed, she was fueled to action. The following hours, days, and weeks were filled with her tenacity, mixed with caring patience and guidance from her new friends at 1-800myapple. (Leading me to wonder: Is phone-tech the new phone sex?)

Margo continues: "First, of course, I called the airline security office, which claimed the iPad had not been located, but urged me to keep checking back. I did, but to no avail. So then the mission became to protect my material, including all those passwords I could never recall without that now-missing list of passwords. Not to mention all my contacts, schoolwork, photos and bills. That's when the geniuses at Apple took over." Margo, like many of us, was familiar with pie a la mode, airplane mode and even lock mode. But this was a whole new world.

"They told me how to put the device in "lost mode," she explains. "By connecting to another app, on my home computer, I was able to find a list of my devices, with their serial numbers. I was advised to list my contact numbers on a virtual screen connected to my "friends," so that when anyone tried to open or get into the iPad, they would see my information." Margo has occasionally accused her husband of being distant, but now, she was experiencing the joyful miracles of what can be done by another's magical hands from afar. (Is 'remotely' the new foreplay?)

This helped, but still she couldn't sleep, racked with fear that someone else's fingers might be stroking HIS keys. Then, on February 8, exactly two weeks after the flight, she got a phone call from an area code and a name she didn't recognize. Surely, another pollster or fundraiser checking in just as dinner was coming out. "For some reason, I answered," says Margo, "and here was a man introducing himself as Dave. My heart started pounding as this heaven-sent Samaritan was explaining that he had found my iPad in the hamper of a sanitation truck, having been tossed from a garbage can in front of a library on Rockaway Blvd."

Who needs Paris when we have Rockaway?! Yes, through the rain and the snow and the sludge, her iPad had survived with minimal damage. Her long-lost love would soon be in her arms again. At least if this was for real. "My New York cynicism and suspicion were not entirely MIA," says Margo, "so I did what any decent girl would do when an unfamiliar man materializes. I Googled him! And there I found sweet pictures of Dave with his baby daughter in tow. He saved me a trip by mailing the iPad overnight and asked only to be reimbursed for the postage."

I could now bore you with more dorky details and more of Margo's hard- earned lessons: Like putting your contact information on the first screen of any device and regularly backing up your devices. Not to mention common sense, like don't get distracted getting off that plane. But this is really about what we do for the things in our life we are sure we can't live without. And about how there truly are good people amid the garbage. Real people, not the virtual variety.

The iPad is, after all, just a machine: As Margo now acknowledges, "It doesn't stroke my hair, It doesn't make me a home-cooked meal when I am studying for finals." If she needed a final reminder that the human touch still has the final power, she got it a few days after her affair with the iPad resumed. "That's when my two-year-old granddaughter grabbed the keyboard, froze the screen, and accidentally deleted an important, opened- but-unsaved document. Neither the Apple geniuses nor Dave could rescue me that time."