Serendipity: The case of the lost phone

Would you expect payment for returning a phone?

A funny thing happened to us last week. We were out for a walk in the local park looking for the painted rocks that are so popular at the moment and my husband found a mobile phone under a tree. “I don’t know what to do with it,” he said. “We can just take it to the police station,” I said. But in the event the police station wasn’t where I thought it was – I remembered seeing some blue lamps somewhere nearby but when I arrived there, the building was now a music shop and the real police station wasn’t open again until Tuesday.

At first, we thought the battery was dead. But when we got home we realised that it was actually still working. What’s more, surprisingly, it didn’t have a pin. Hopefully this would make it easier to return it to its owner, I thought. We all know what a nightmare it is to lose your phone.

But it wasn’t that easy. I couldn’t find a home landline number on it and there weren’t any emergency contact numbers. I also couldn’t find the number for his partner – it was obvious from the previews of recent texts who she was but she wasn’t listed under her name in his phone. He had a habit of listing people under comedy names, such as FatFinBob and Daaaaaavvee (these are not the actual names, by the way, but similar ones for illustration). Very funny but not that helpful to me. The most recent calls weren’t that useful either.

From the texts, I was expecting a young Jack-the-lad but, when he arrived, Carl was in his fifties with long hair and was a bit of a geezer. He was really pleased to be reunited with his phone and I was so glad to be able to return it to its owner rather than just take it to the police station and hope for the best.

Would you expect a reward?

In the end, I texted one of the owner’s friends who was meeting him for a darts match on the Monday, according to his most recent text. He responded and said he would get the owner to contact me. Carl, we’ll call him, rang later and was really relieved that the phone had been found. He lived about 45 minutes away and said he’d pop round on his motorbike to beat the traffic.

The big surprise for me was that, before he left, Carl shoved a £20 note into my hand and said “Please take this for your trouble”. I was taken aback – I really wasn’t expecting this and immediately refused it. After all, I don’t think you should expect rewards for simply helping somebody out. We’d all like to hope that somebody would return our lost property if they found, although sadly the reality might very well be different, especially with a valuable mobile phone. “No, no, I can’t take this, Carl” I said.

“I insist,” said Carl. “Buy something for the kid.” In the end, I didn’t want to offend him when he was being so kind so I accepted the money. And, I have to admit that we didn’t spend it on Stellan who has had a ton of toys this week already as it was his birthday. Instead it went towards a much-needed date night on Friday night!

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