Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Leave a Number...

If someone found your phone or laptop or wallet and wanted to return it to you, how could they?

I had a dream this morning after falling back asleep.  I found this woman's large purse which had a laptop in it, a wallet, and a cellphone, along with other things such as notebooks.  I wanted to call the lady and tell her I found it, but there was no way to contact her.  I could not turn on the laptop without the login code, and the cell phone similarly required a PIN or fingerprint.  I looked through the notebook but there wasn't even a phone number for a friend (those were all listed in her contacts, no doubt, on the phone).  The only phone number I could find was for a credit card company and I doubt they would have given me the time of day...

....then the phone rang.  My phone.  And I woke up.  It was that annoying, "Hello...Hello" recording and if I responded, people from "elder care medicine" or some such nonsense, who would switch me to an Indian call center where a guy with a punchboard (that plays recorded snippets of an American's voice) would ask me whether I was on Medicare or not.   Scam!  Hang up!

But this dream got me to thinking.  I've lost stuff in the past and honest people have returned my things.  I have found other people's lost items in the past and tried to return their things.  Honest people exist, and they want to treat others as they are treated.  A vanishing breed, I know.

I lost a pair of sunglasses once, and after several months, someone suggested I try the lost and found at the Visitor's Center.  Sure enough, when I went in, they quickly found my glasses, which some other honest person had turned in.  Thank you, anonymous honest person!

Another time, I found a wallet in the middle of the road.  A guy had stopped at our gas station on the island, took out his wallet to pay, and set it on top of the car.  He drove off and it fell on the ground.  I was able to find his business card in the wallet and call his office, who in turn, called his cell phone.  We met, and I gave him back his wallet.  I knew the business card was his, as the name was the same as on the driver's license.

By the way, resist the urge to put things on the roof of your car.  Yea, your hands are full, so you set your Starbucks on the roof while you fumble for the keys.  You drive off with hot "coffee drink" drizzling down the back of your car.  Five bucks down the drain!  People regularly lose clothing, groceries, and other items this way.  Some folks have been as absent-minded as to place their baby, strapped into the car seat, on top of the car, as in the movie Raising Arizona.  Unlike the movie, however, there was no comedic payoffJust don't put things on the roof!

Another time, we found a cell phone at the beach.  We picked it up, but as in my dream, there was no way to contact anyone about it.  Shortly thereafter, a guy was walking up the beach, looking worried and scanning the sand.  "Looking for something?" I said.  He replied, "Yea, I lost my..." 

"Cell phone?" I finished, holding it up.  That brings up a conundrum with lost items.  Do you leave them where they lay and hope the person retraces their steps and finds the item?  Or do you take it to the "lost and found" and hope they know to look there?  Moving a lost item may do more harm than good!

I got out my label maker after that and printed out Mr. See's phone number and name and stuck it to the back of my phone, and printed my name and number and put it on the back of his.  The idea is, if someone found the phone, and they were honest, they would call the number and we might get the phone back.  Putting your spouse's number - not your own - makes sense.  Your own number doesn't do much good in locating you, since they are holding the phone in their hand.

Our phones are so old and cheap (I think I paid $99 for one and $199 for the other, used) that they aren't going to be worth much to thieves.  It is the hassle of losing the phone and having to get a new SIM card (or virtual SIM or whatever) and reloading all your apps and being "out of the loop" for several days that is the real hassle.  It is like losing your wallet.  You cancel the credit cards, you get in line at the DMV for a new license and you are back in business.  Maybe you lose a few bucks, but that's it.  It is the hassle that is the hassle, not "identity theft" or anything like that.

More modern phones have a "find your phone" feature, but this requires you have a second phone or device to find it.  Moreover, if the phone is off or the battery goes dead, you aren't likely to find it.  Mostly it seems, the "find your phone" feature is handy for figuring out which third-world country your phone was shipped to, after you were pick pocketed in Milan.

It was a weird dream, and I would not have remembered it if those scammers hadn't called me and woken me up.  But I thought, as I crawled out of bed, "Good blog meat!"

Think about putting a contact number on your "stuff" in case it gets lost.  If the police find your stolen bicycle, how can they contact you?  How can you prove it is yours?  Do you know the serial number?  Of course not.  But a sticker under the top tube with your name and phone number can solve a lot of problems, and the thief likely won't know it is there.

Car keys?  Maybe put a sticker on the key fob or something.  You never know!

Zenni - the online glasses place - offers as a "bonus" to etch your phone number on the temple of your glasses.  Might get a pair back, that way!  You never know!

Again, it is the hassle, more than anything, of losing something.  And it is a real hassle when you are traveling.  Think about things that are important to you or are difficult to replace and then think, if they were lost, how would a Good Samaritan find you to give that item back?  Chances are, they'd have no way to do so.

The "Lost and Found" used to be a big deal everywhere you went - at school, the department store, the beach pavilion, whatever. These days, it seems far less prevalent.  I was even sort of shocked to find out we had one at the Visitor's Center!   Nevertheless, if you do lose something, ask if there is a lost and found, and sometimes if you leave a description of the item, they may call you if it is turned in.

Anyway, a weird dream, but maybe an instructive one!