Here's a win for the country: I'll never be the aide entrusted with carrying the suitcase known as the nuclear football.

I don't want to carry it, anyway, just as I wouldn't have wanted to carry Alan Turing's wartime cryptanalyses. Spare me toting around the life-saving serum or even the factory payroll, too.

"Listen," I'll say, "I can't hang on to my water bottle for more than 10 minutes; you don't want to hand me the crown jewels while you find a restroom."

I've left water bottles behind me everywhere I go. New York City, for instance. And not even in an iconic place -- the top of the Empire State Building or under the Washington Square arch.

I left a bottle beside my chair in a Le Pain Quotidien. Manhattan has more than 40 Le Pain Quotidiens.

I can't even be interestingly careless.

I also left a bottle in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., but luckily I caught up with it before it was filed away under "Detritus, tourists, 21st century, belonging to."

I've left my water bottle in my daughters' homes so often my grandchildren practiced talking by pointing at it and saying, "Gahma!"

I've left it in meeting rooms, picnic shelters, blood-donation centers, emergency rooms and libraries.

You'd think I have an unconscious desire to lose my water bottle, but in fact, when I find a bottle whose design isn't more complicated than Tokyo's storm-drainage system, I want to clone it, not lose it.

You might be assuming I gesture with a Dasani bottle while yapping about hydration and how if you don't consume 96 ounces every 20 minutes, your kidneys will defect to an elite runner in Kenya, but I never actually drink any water. In fact, I have a genuine water habit, which, while no doubt irritating, is preferable to having a water affectation.

What proselytizers would call "my water journey" would bore you almost as much as it bores me, but the short version is: I once drank almost no water, and now I drink a lot of it.

Deciding to up my H2O intake was part of it, as was becoming a daily runner.

This was several decades ago; a lot of water's passed my epiglottis since then.

My most recent bottle crisis began last week after my husband and I attended a program in a local church.

In a familiar exchange, my husband saw me hunting around the car and asked what was missing.

"I must have left my bottle there!" I wailed, like a peevish baby.

I searched the car when I got home and concluded the bottle was on a ledge just inside the church.

Over the next few days, I made several fruitless attempts to enter the building, which was always locked. I wondered, as I walked around the church pulling at doors, if I might be taken for a convert too zealous to wait for the next scheduled service.

I knew from peering through the glass that the bottle was no longer on the ledge, if I had left it there at all -- but it might be in the kitchen.

Or in the lost and found, with jackets and hats.

Surely a church wouldn't put down a person's water bottle without at least trying to find the owner.

And then, right there on the doorstep, I had an epiphany. This wasn't a first-world problem; this was a first-world nonproblem. I have water -- clean, readily available, inexpensive and all I can drink.

South Africa is running out of water. Other places have it -- replete with sewage, parasites and fatal diseases. Oh, I thought. Oh.

Later, while fetching a grandchild from daycare, I saw a flash of green under the seat of the car. I looked at the cupholder, which held the inferior, backup bottle I'd been using, then under the seat again. My water bottle had been wedged just behind my ankles for almost a week. You'd think it was trying to tell me something.

I'm not sure it wasn't.

Write to Margo Bartlett at