Lost-and-Found Adventures


Source of Photograph:


On 27 May 2012, New York Times City Room columnist Alex Vadukul wrote about leaving behind his laptop computer in its case in a New York City taxi. He filed a lost property report, but was worried that it would not help. He also posted a plea for help on Craigslist. Fortunately, he received an email with “found your bag” in the subject line and “in a cab. Want it back?” in the body of the email. Mr. Vadukul replied quickly and offered a reward. The person who had found the laptop was not interested in the reward but was interested in making Mr. Vadukul’s life interesting. The person who had found the laptop sent this email: “it’s @ 205 E Broadway, beneath the small yellow sign that reads ‘205 E Broadway.’ you’ll have to decend some cement steps from the sidewalk and duck unde a handrail. Bring a flashlight and get it before it gets rained on.” Mr. Vadukul’s sister was sure that he would get mugged, but he went to the location, descended the cement steps, and found his laptop. He then sent the anonymous Good Samaritan this email: “Hey, I found the bag. I don’t know what to say. I’m speechless. Thank you so much. I’m in your debt, whomever you are. Not many New Yorkers are as generous. You picked an excellent hiding spot. It felt like a bit of an adventure retrieving it. I wish I’d gotten to meet you in person to express my thanks, but you have my deep gratitude. Thank you. Best, Alex.” (Alex thinks the taxi driver found the laptop, but who knows? It could have been the next passenger in the taxi.)

Some accounts of good deeds appeared in the comments on this story:

1) Daniel Hernandez of Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, wrote, “Great true story. It reads like a short story in the making. Your piece has been sent to me by a couple of friends because I lost my computer a few weeks ago, also after a night out celebrating a birthday. Somewhat drunk, I arrived home and realized I didn’t have my computer with me the moment I shut my apartment door behind me. The following morning, I had to wait until noon for the bar to open where we had all gathered, to no avail. When I returned to my office after lunch, I had a voice message from the taxi driver — I have a stack of business cards in a pocket of the computer sleeve. I returned his call. He told me that he had my computer. I told him that I would meet him anywhere / anytime that would be convenient for him. He said that his shift starts at night and he would return it to me at my home between 11 and 11:30pm. We exchanged cell phone numbers. Sure enough, around 11pm, he called my cell. I met him downstairs at his taxi. He handed over my computer. He said that it was his duty to return lost items to people and he knew that I must have a lot of photos, documents and other things important to me on the computer. I gave him a cash reward for his troubles, which he was hesitant to accept. It was a great NYC moment for me.”

2) Mel of Dallas wrote, “Waterbury, Connecticut, November, 1972. It was a bitter, windblown, rainy night. I missed my turn and entered a factory parking lot to turn around. I swerved to avoid a dark rectangle, then stopped and took it into the car. Home I examined the toolbox — full of odd, precision tools. I dug through it and found a phone number. I asked, ‘Did you lose something?’ The woman began to cry. Her husband, an immigrant diemaker, had lost the tools he’d brought with him from Europe. We agreed to meet late that night at a diner not far from where I found the toolbox. He offered me money, but I refused. The only reason to do right is the realization that we’re all in it together. The memory of his gratitude has comforted me for forty years.”

3) StaCEY81 of Brooklyn wrote, “I’ve lost my wallet in Brooklyn THREE times! The first time I lost it in Cobble Hill and someone looked me up on Facebook and messaged me. I got my wallet back with all my cash and everything (including my laundry claim ticket) still inside! The second time it was found in Park Slope and the finder saw my Brooklyn library card and brought it there. The library called me and let the man speak with me and I picked it up from his house later that day. Everything was still inside. The third time I found it on the floor of a pizza joint in Williamsburg. All the money still inside. I’ve lost my wallet in Jersey and in Chicago and have never seen it again. It’s amazing that in the largest city in America people were kind enough to go out of their way to make sure I got my wallet back. I ❤ NYC.” (By the way, ❤ = Sideways Heart = Love.)

For Further Information: Alex Vadukul, “A Lost Bag and a Lost Night, but Not a Lost Cause.” New York Times. 27 May 2012


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