… and then there was the time that I went on a trip and brought the USB drive that had all my Literotica stories in various states of completion on it: published, ready to edit, still in draft, etc.—as well as lots of other personal stuff. I ended up not doing any work on the stories or the other files on the drive, but when I finished unpacking after I got home, the USB drive was nowhere to be found. After searching through every possible nook and cranny, I realized it was gone. Fortunately I had done a mirror image copy to my desktop PC before leaving, but I never put a password on the drive itself!
I had spent some of the time with relatives who did a thorough search and came up with nothing—then the fun began. The list of places to contact re lost & found was a lot longer than I expected: shuttle van to/from the airport, the departure airport, the arrival airport, the car rental company, the hotels I stayed at, the restaurants I ate at … If I had just taken it out at some point during the trip, I could have narrowed it down.
The most conscientious search was from the rental car company who sent me email updates every week for 2 months or so saying nothing had turned up but they were still looking. Then at the other end of the spectrum was the lost & found at a major airport where the guy that answered the phone asks me what it looked like & puts me on hold. Ten minutes later he comes back on & says “Nah, it’s not here.” I imagined a huge cardboard box, full of hundreds of thumb drives lost in that airport over the years. Did he actually bother looking through all of them or did he use that as an excuse to go on break?
Moral of the story: make sure you do that mirror copy onto another device that you aren’t taking with you on the trip and put a damn password on the drive! So far no one has published any of the stories on Lit under another name, but there was plenty of personally identifiable info on the drive. I’ve convinced myself that some other traveler picked it up and decided that trying to find Lost & Found right before boarding their flight was too much trouble and either tossed it in the trash or took it home and erased everything so they could use the drive.