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.

9 Comments

  1. Congratulations on your happy ending! It’s not exactly a “Christmas miracle” story, but it has the advantage of being true.

    My wallet, on the other hand, disappeared twenty years ago and hasn’t been heard from since. (However, I did give up looking for it and bought a new one, which hasn’t disappeared yet.)

    - Zeno — 12/23/2005 @ 10:02 pm

  2. For the record, this happy ending occurred the same day that one of my coworkers casually mentioned that oh look, isn’t this nice, we’re getting paid early this month!

    I’m glad she mentioned it, because I would never have figured it out because I DIDN’T GET PAID. Everyone else in my office did. Just not me. And folks in the accounting department had taken their vacation a day early, so I can’t figure out what is going on with this until January. (This did, however, give me an excuse to leave work an hour early, declaring “No point sticking around if I’m not being paid.”)

    Which led one of my coworkers to offer to lend me money for the second time, for the second reason, in a single day.

    - Moebius Stripper — 12/23/2005 @ 10:35 pm

  3. you were lucky, as you only had a 64% chance of it being returned.
    http://www.readersdigest.ca/mag/1997/03/think_01.html

    - jayrtfm — 12/24/2005 @ 6:52 am

  4. Oh, here it is, folks: Idiot who carries around $2700 in cash in a paper bag leaves it somewhere, then gets it all back! It’s a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!

    Jayrtfm, thanks for the link - but I think my chances were somewhat better, as my wallet wasn’t out in the open. It was on a bus, after rush hour, for a little over half an hour on a not-terribly-busy route. At most 60-80 people were on that bus at that time, and I think it was the driver who found it at the end of the line, though I never did find out.

    - Moebius Stripper — 12/26/2005 @ 3:26 pm

  5. Sucky thing happened to me, I also lost my wallet not last friday but the friday before. I was in California visiting my dad, went to see my niece in a Christmas Ballet Recital came in with cell phone and wallet, came out with neither. I found the cell phone (which is good because my company doesn’t keep everyone’s contact lists so I’d have to get everyone’s phone number again and some of the ones I have are impossible for me to get back) but my wallet is still missing.

    To be able to take my flight back home I had to go by:
    - Center for Vital Statistics
    - Police Department
    - Social Security Administration
    - Department of Motor Vehicles
    - My Bank

    Two days and I hit almost every single one. I’m glad you got yours back, but if you didn’t at least you were at home where your identity is a little bit easier to get back. At least I lost mine close to where I was born (hence the ease of getting the Birth Certificate).

    Hope your holidays were well, I almost died without the internet. - Vanes.

    - Vanes63 — 12/27/2005 @ 10:32 am

  6. I lost my wallet on a Saturday, and I was taking a flight the next Monday. I thought that cancelling my credit card was everything I needed to do, but when I tried to check in at the airport, the lady disagreed. “Your credit card appears as stolen. You are going to need to provide a statement from your bank indicating that the payment to British Airways has been accepted if you want to check in.” To my surprise, a simple call to the wrong department of my bank lead to a man who faxed said statement to the airport in less than 30 minutes. Maybe it is my European origin, but I am still amazed when I am helped rather than yelled at with a request like this.

    - oxeador — 12/27/2005 @ 4:34 pm

  7. Vanes63 and oxeador - yeah, this couldn’t have worked out any better, and I recognize that I was lucky. I did go through a mini ordeal when my passport was stolen…here’s the story. Man, you know you’ve been blogging too much when you can refer folks to your archives rather than telling stories.

    - Moebius Stripper — 1/3/2006 @ 7:48 pm

  8. That sounds like a horrifying experience. I find it amazing that the bus drivers seemed to know the actual schedule of busses. If it’s anything like here, the busses are so far off schedule that the wrong busses were probably closer to on-time that the correct ones. I’m glad you recovered the wallet. Getting replacement IDs is hell on earth.

    I also saw the stolen passport link from this entry. For additional information, many banks in the US seem to have notaries in their offices. If you go to your own bank and ask if there is a notary in the office, they are often happy to provide the service for free or for very cheap. It’s often not on their list of official services, but they will usually do it if they have a notary.

    I had a friend who was sworn in as an attorney by a notary at a bank branch inside a grocery store. He missed the official swearing in with his passing classmates because of postal mixups and he wanted to get his document signed and made official right away. People were busy buying holiday groceries not too far away while he was reading his oath. We were busy buying sugar cookies and other crap and came back to find that he was now officially an attorney.

    - Scotty — 1/14/2006 @ 8:16 pm

  9. All this talk of misplacing wallets made me go check that I didn’t manage to misplace my documents during my recent travels. Check! (In fact, my grandma is less scatterbrained than me. I thought I’d handed her passport back to her, but she rightly insisted that I still had both of our passports. ‘No way!’ I said. Well, guess who was wrong.)

    But what I really meant to say was that the US TSA is also pretty good at handing back wallets. I don’t see a good reason to take off my sneakers at checkpoints, so when the guy at the airport said ‘I recommend that you take off your shoes’, I asked if it was just a recommendation, and he just repeated ‘Recommend taking off your shoes’. So I didn’t, and got a free secondary screening, where I left my wallet behind.

    So they used the helpful information in the wallet to call my educational institute and let me know where my wallet was, so that I could pick it up when I returned a few days later.

    Fortunately, even though my wallet was in the care of the TSA, I had my passport with me, since I was travelling to Canada. It’s pretty helpful for the purpose of withdrawing cash from your bank branch, especially if you happen to remember your account number.

    - plam — 1/15/2006 @ 9:12 am

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