Last week began in much the same way as the previous one had ended: with me reaching into my pocket, tipping out the contents of my bag and realising that – for the second time in under seven days – I had lost my Oyster card.
Ah, Oyster Cards: the Londoner’s passport, our essential bit of kit, the one thing guaranteed to make us late when we get to the bus stop and realise it’s at home on the kitchen table, or in our other coat pocket.
Alas, this one was in none of those places. It was doing a lap of London on the 76 bus or in someone’s lucky swag bag, along with my newly replaced work pass which also lived in the plastic holder.
All of which would make for a pretty boring story – and an even worse blog post – if it wasn’t for what happened next.
Because about half an hour later, another Londoner found it. And they didn’t just find it, they took it back to their office, sat down at their computer, and did a bit of detective work.
After Googling the name on my work pass, they found my Google+ profile. Which lead them to this blog. Where they located the “contact” section and an email address, and sent me a message.
Hello,Bit random and advanced apologies if I have totally got the wrong person but I found an oyster card/id card on the bus this morning.Have you lost an oyster card??
I replied to say yes, that was me, and at lunchtime I toddled along to Fleet Street and reclaimed my Oyster card and work pass from a very kind girl, who, upon hearing that this was my second loss in a week, also provided me with a lanyard to tie it to my person.
Aha. Good thinking.
The whole thing sort of reaffirmed what I’ve thought for a long time: that given the chance, most people get a better feeling from reuniting someone with a lost item than keeping it themselves.
In fact, I will undoubtedly get kicked up the bum by karma for saying this – but I’ve got a bit of a good track record for losing things and getting them back.
It first happened at Baker Street station a few years back, when I lost my iPod Touch and later received a hand written note through the post from the man who picked it up.
After confirming it was mine (an admission of some dodgy UK Garage and a penchant for Evanescence seemed to do the trick – don’t judge me, it was 2008), he sent it to me recorded delivery – wouldn’t accept any postage or payment – and included a note wishing me a happy Christmas and, err, better taste in music.
Sometimes though, an item will find its way back to you when you absolutely least expect it. Stories abound of instances when brand new Mac Books have been left under tube seats, never to be seen again – but even in a big, busy city like London, luck can still be on your side.
Which is a roundabout way of saying “Yes, I am that person who left their brand new iPad on the bus to work one morning because sometimes I’m an absolute idiot before 9am”
After realising my error and banging my head against the desk repeatedly for 20 minutes, I did what every 21st Century girl does when they do something astronomically stupid: I tweeted about it.
Which was when this happened:
Technology saves the day. @_sampat reminded me about the “Find my devices” function, and I tracked iPad down at the bus garage. Sheesh.
— Jo Harris-Cooksley (@JoannaHC) July 27, 2012
Anyone who knows north London will perhaps understand my sense of “Oh no, not there” when the little tracker dot zoomed into the Tottenham area, and then relief as it came to a stop in the bus garage, at which point I made a phone call.
“Hello, I think my iPad is in your bus garage” I said.
“It’s not” the lost property lady replied.
“It is. I can see it.”
And with that, my iPad was retrieved from the back of the bus where I’d left it, and I became the luckiest girl in London.
So if you’re also a little bit careless and generally not to be trusted with expensive technology on public transport, here are some handy little ideas that have helped me get my stuff back.
1. Keep a slip of paper / ID card with your name or e-mail address in the pocket of your Oyster card holder. Cross your fingers. Wait a bit before cancelling, just in case (it’s not reversible)
2. Instead of calling your phone / Mp3 player / camera phone something normal like “Jo’s iPhone”, name it with your door number and postcode. If someone plugs your kit into their computer and is greeted with a way to contact you, the guilt strings are going to get pulled and if you’re lucky like me, you’ll get your iPod Touch back.
3. FOR GODS SAKE, ACTIVATE iCLOUD ON YOUR iPHONE OR iPAD. You can remotely locate it, erase it, lock it, send a little message saying “Give it back, you thieving monkey.”, or ride around with the police tracking the person who’s got it.
Odds of me losing something expensive tomorrow and not getting it back? Medium to high.
How lucky are you?