Lost and found

When I first came to America in 1994, my mum insisted that I should try to stand behind tall people at every opportunity. Not so that I wouldn’t be able to see the sights of cities such as New York or Boston, but actually so that I would reduce my chances of being shot. Given that I’m 6ft 2in tall, and I don’t have many NBA stars in my address book, I’ve had to take my chances over the years. Just don’t tell my mum, OK?

The fact is that there are plenty of people in the world who think that America is a land of crime and misdemeanour. After all, US law and forensics shows suggest that murder is a central part of day-to-day existence, and even Scooby Doo has a plethora of amusement park owners who would have got away with everything if it wasn’t for some pesky kids. Sometimes though, something happens that just restores your faith in American humankind.

Moving house last week, The Special One and I rented a Zipcar to move our valuables safely from one place to the other. At least that was the theory. In reality what happened was that I got distracted by the fact that we were blocking the entire pavementsidewalk as we unloaded the car, and may have unwittingly left my work bag and expensive camera behind the passenger seat by accident.

(Of course, it could conceivably be argued that The Special One might have considered checking the car when she dropped it back at the car parklot, but when I began considering formulating this admittedly flimsy line of defence, The Special One activated her ‘Don’t Even Think About It’ forcefield, and I dropped the idea with immediate effect.)

With Brit Out Of Water Senior in New York this weekend, and the Zipcar in question seemingly booked out on a near permanent basis since we returned it, I’d kind of given up on ever seeing the bag or camera again. After all, the whole point of this service is that you just rent it for an hour or so at a time, so a dozen or so people could have been in the car since we left it.

As a result, it was a bit of a surprise this morning to find that somebody had been through my bag, found my business card, and left a message for me at work letting me know that she had found my stuff in the car, and had put it in the boottrunk for safety. The car had even been taken for a service by Zipcar all day today, and the items had still remained firmly untouched.

The tragic thing is that the only British experience I have to compare this to is a recent trip to the UK for work. Despite flying British Airways business class, and being the last passenger to leave the weird little upstairs cabin, there was strangely no sign of my brand new iPod when the cleaning staff came to clear the plane shortly afterwards. British Airways didn’t bother responding to my email of complaint, and their lost property agents Excess Baggage denied all responsibility in a terse twenty-word email. Customer service – you can’t beat it.

And yes, I should probably be more careful with my valuable in future. If I have to be on the receiving end of one of The Special One’s unique ’equal measures of disappointment and disbelief’ looks again in the next few months, I might be back in (deep) water before I know it.

5 thoughts on “Lost and found

  1. ExpatKat

    Your ‘Lost Property’ tale captures the stark differences between the cultures perfectly. The media has a lot to answer for really. Our preconceptions of life here are way off the mark. The American people are truely the salt of the earth.

  2. Karen

    I can’t believe you got your camera and bag back, that is great, really and unfortunate that you “lost” the ipod.

    I will say though, speaking as someone who cleans hotel rooms for a living, that I ALWAYS hand items I find over, from the really swanky nailclippers I found yesterday(why would I want that anyway!) to the suits and diabetic kits I have found lying around after people have checked out. Thing is, nobody ever claims them! My boss’s office is stacked with boxes of lost items. I think we keep them for a year or something?
    I do throw out the dirty underwear left behind though 😉

  3. Almost American

    Glad you got your stuff back. I suspect the cleaning staff on the plane considered the iPod one of their ‘perks’ 🙁

    I found an envelope on the street in Hull one time that had the equivalent of 2 weeks dole money in it, in cash. I turned it in to the police, but eventually they gave it back to me because no one claimed it. I guess whoever lost it never thought to even ask! I could have kept it in the first place, but I felt so much better about having the money given that I at least tried to do the right thing.

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