Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lost and Found

I rarely lose things; in fact, I've only lost an umbrella once (when it wasn't even entirely my fault, having given my bag to someone else to hold on the bus - ahem, John) and I can count on one hand the other items I've "lost" or left behind over the course of my life.

Of course, I also know what it is like to leave something behind: that sudden pang of panic, the urge to recover what is yours immediately, no matter how far you have to go or how long it takes to get there.

Serendipitously, I've been on the phone to a few lost property offices lately. A few weeks ago, I left the bag pictured above on an old Routemaster bus. I had several bags in my hand and was on my way to yoga in Covent Garden. Feeling flustered as I looked up and saw my stop coming up (with no stop button on the bus), I quickly stood up, abandoning my bag on the seat. It contained souvenirs I had purchased for my parents at my visit to the Shard. Replaceable, sure, but I still wanted them back.

So, I did what every 21st-century woman would do: I tweeted about it. And luckily enough, one of my followers retweeted my tweet to Heritage Bus Routes, who then gave me the number of the bus depot, which I called the next day and ... they had my bag! With all the souvenirs inside! Of course, it meant I had to trek all the way to the bus depot at Star Lanes (hint: don't go there. Like, ever.) during a torrential downpour on my lunch break, but they were so nice and one driver even offered me a ride in his car (he'd just finished his shift and felt sorry for me, slogging along a deserted road getting soaked), which I politely declined as my mom taught me to never get into cars with strangers. Nevertheless, the sentiment was appreciated. And I just so appreciated someone taking the time to turn in my bag and leave it at the depot for me to collect.

Then, this past weekend, John returned from a business trip to San Francisco (he'd already left his suit behind in London and had to buy new pants at Macy's as soon as he landed) and timidly asked, "Have you seen my iPad mini?" I was like, "No ..." but I kind of knew in the back of my head what was coming. Call it instinct. Sure enough, he "must have left it somewhere". Okay, fine ... the only thing is, "somewhere" isn't really helpful when you're trying to track down a lost item. "Do you think you left it at the San Francisco airport security checkpoint?" I ventured. Helpless look. "Okay ... the plane? Do you think you left it on the plane?" I prodded. Another helpless look. I sent his jet-lagged self to bed and emailed both lost property at Heathrow (where items on the planes that land there are returned) and San Francisco International Airport.

The next day, I called Heathrow's Lost Property office, as I saw a description of what could have been John's iPad mini on their website, missingx.com. I spoke to a very nice man named Rob, who informed me that items from John's flight hadn't been returned yet, but that he'd give me a call the next day in case it had. I doubted he would remember to, but sure enough, I had a call from Rob this morning who said he definitely thought he had John's iPad mini in his possession. After describing it in full detail, he arranged for it to be couriered to me (at a total cost of £35.50 - it costs £20 to pick it up in person) and I'm just crossing my fingers that it'll safely arrive this week.

The moral of this story is: don't lose your things, yes, but more importantly, always try to recover them. I think a lot of people automatically think, "Oh, there's no way that would have been turned in - it's gone forever," (like John's iPad mini) but what I've discovered more often than not, is that the opposite is true. There are some good Samaritans out there. After all, I did find a dropped cell phone after the 4th of July fireworks in Seattle this summer and managed to get it back to its owner. We exist.

(Sidenote: to those of you wondering why I have such a vested interest in recovering John's iPad mini for him since it's - quite frankly - his problem, I BOUGHT HIM THE DARNED THING!!! HE'D BETTER NOT LOSE IT!!!)

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