Tall, Dark, and Mysterious

12/23/2005

A somewhat tense hour and thirty-nine minutes

File under: Meta-Meta, Talking To Strangers. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 8:29 pm.

The other day, I found myself lamenting the lack of bloggable material that has crossed my path of late. I did not, however, then say to myself, “Oh, I know! How about I leave my wallet on a bus, and then write about my experience trying to get it back!” Nevertheless, you take what you can get, and I couldn’t be happier with what I got, really:

  • Prior to taking this bus, I had to buy a transfer from a machine. All I had on me was twenties, so after buying the transfer I had $19 in loonies, twonies, and quarters, which I pocketed. So when my wallet and I parted ways, I still had $19, which would be enough to get me through the next few days, if it came to that.

  • The guy at the transit system’s customer service centre managed to strike a formidable balance between I’ve-dealt-with-this-sort-of-thing-a-hundred-times -before professionalism, and nothing-is-more-important-to-me-than-your-case compassion. He took my name, and told me that every bus is swept when it gets to the end of the line, and that this bus in particular would be back at my door in an hour going the other way, and if I wanted I could go try to catch it.
  • I did, and explained my case to the driver, who stopped his bus and let me on to try to find my wallet, but informed me that he hadn’t found a wallet when he’d gotten to the end of the line and doubted that it was here. Still, though, he’d take a few minutes to look, as would all twenty people on that bus. Alas, nothing. But then the driver asked me when I’d gotten on the bus.

    “Seven twenty,” I said.

    “Oh, this bus was at your stop at seven-oh-five,” he said. “So your wallet wouldn’t be here.”

    “So is the next bus going to be the seven twenty one?” I asked.

    “No, that bus goes back to the lot,” he replied.

    I thanked him and and he let me off. A passenger at the front, a woman of around eighty who minutes before had been on all fours to check under her seat, wished me luck.

  • But what does a bus driver know, I thought; I knew the schedule, and there’d be another bus coming by in exactly fifteen minutes, and it would be the seven-twenty bus, no?

    So I waited, and the drizzle gave way to pouring rain, and fifteen minutes later I was drenched, but there was a bus. He stopped, and I explained my situation.

    “You weren’t on my bus,” said the driver matter-of-factly. “I’d remember you.”

    “Yes, I was, I got on at the beginning of the line at seven twenty.”

    “Naw, this bus came ’round your way seven thirty-five.”

    Very well.

  • Back home, I called customer service again, and got a woman who took my name. “You saved me a phone call,” she said. “We just got word that a wallet was found, has your name in it.”

    “How much cash is in it?” I asked.

    All of it.

  • “All of it” was under a hundred dollars, as opposed to the ten thousand-odd dollars that you read about every now and again in front-page articles around Christmastime, in which some homeless person finds a wallet full of some obscene amount of money, leaves it all there, and then doesn’t accept a reward. I was glad that I hadn’t left ten thousand dollars in my wallet because I didn’t want there to be a front-page article about me. By the way, for what it’s worth, if I found a wallet with that sort of cash, I would return all of it to the owner, but I damnwell would expect a reward, and I would accept every penny. Because I returned a wallet to someone who walks around with ten thousand dollars in cash.
  • Got it back the next day.

Longtime readers may contrast the relative ease in obtaining money from the transit authority with to the crazy-making ordeal of acquiring same from the Employment Insurance office. I wonder if we could streamline the Employment Insurance system by having employers place cash in wallets on buses, and have unemployed people collect their benefits directly from the transit authority.