It's about as trite a story as you can get: Last week, I lost my phone on the bus here in my burg, New York City.
Before I even realized it was missing, I sat down at my computer and found emails from my family: "Call a lady named Grace. She has your phone."
She did indeed. She'd found it on the seat next to her, taken it with her to work and reached the "favorites" on my contact list. Soon I was at the United Basket factory, asking for Grace Chen, who cheerfully handed me my Android, adamantly refused a reward and hurried back to her job.
Which reminded me that a couple of months ago when I lost my wallet, another nice young woman had done the same thing. Could it be that this is the way of the world? Finders are not keepers? I started asking around.
"I got a message that said, 'I found your phone. Please call me,'" recalls Natalie Yates, co-founder of the digital agency Blue Iceberg in Manhattan. She did. It was a taxi driver all the way out in the suburbs. "He'd just gotten off his shift, found the phone, and he said that once his wife got home, she could take care of the kids and he could drive back in with his truck to bring me my phone."
Drive it in? After his shift?
"I can survive without my phone for a night!" Natalie told him. To which he replied with a laugh. "A lot of people can't," he said.
Instead, they arranged for him to drop it off the next day, whereupon he told Natalie that he always returns things, including, one time, $10,000 that had been left in his cab. For that good deed, he got a $20 tip.
Natalie gave him $30.
For her finding efforts, performer Laurie Gamache got some lovely wine. "I used to live in a little basement studio on West 96th Street," said Laurie. "I was getting ready to go on the road with 'A Chorus Line,' and so I was cleaning out the place." In a crack in the plaster of her fireplace, she found a class ring.
The year on the ring was 1980-something, and this was still in the '80s. There was a name engraved, too. Laurie put it in a box in her desk drawer, intending to try to find the owner. But then it slipped her mind.
"By the time I got back — years later — I forgot all about it," she explained. But when she was preparing for a move, she cleaned out her desk and opened a little box she found. Oh, yes! The ring! How to find its owner?
Well, in the intervening years, a device had been invented to do just that: the Internet. Laurie instantly found the owner online — an upstate judge — and sent it back to her. The judge's husband runs a winery, so the exchange concluded with a drinkable reward, nicely aged. Just like the ring.
Dana Rubin, CEO at Rubin&Co, an executive communications and content creation company, came home one night and was devastated to find her apartment had been ransacked. What pained her most was the loss of a bag of jewelry, including sentimental pieces given to her by her parents.
About a year later, she called an organization to come pick up some furniture she was donating. As the workers lifted up her mattress... there was the jewelry bag. She'd hidden it there for safekeeping. Said Dana, "I'd been sleeping on it all year."
In a world of good people and eureka moments, there seems to be only one other way to guarantee finding a lost and precious item, at least according to my sister-in-law: Go online and shop for the lost item. Press "Purchase." Look up.
There it is.