Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Perils of a Good Samaritan

After the events from yesterday's run, I threw the challenge flag and went to the booth for replay. I viewed the mental video of the goofiest things that have happened to me when I'm out running. Not too many, but enough to give pause. Surely there's significance in this?

I'll start with yesterday. I was almost done with my run. It was cold, colder than my phone app told me it was (*shaking fist and exlaiming "curses technology"). I turned the penultimate corner when in my periphery I noticed an ID badge and a notebook on the sidewalk near a bus stop. You know how your mind sometimes takes a second to balance vision with reality? By the time I had figured out that someone had dropped important cards, I was 50 yards down the way. My stupid conscience made me go back. My plan was to move it off the path, put it in the grass, so that if the person who dropped it came back, his stuff would be right there. And that's what I did.

I ran on and my stupid conscience would not shut up. Cripes. Fine. I turned around and went back. Again. This time I was about 150 yards away. I hemmed and hawed the whole time. Should I take it to a local business? Why make it their problem? And what if they didn't do their civic duty? Could I trust them to do the important work of researching and finding the poor sod who lost his badge? Oh, and his credit card? An errand of this import could not be left to mere amateurs.

By the time I got back to the lost items, the dog was thoroughly confused and a tiny bit reluctant to keep running. I grabbed the badge, the lanyard, the credit card and the wet notebook (I refuse to think about what liquid put it in that condition). I ran home. Now the conscience pushed me on. Well, that and the cold. A shift in my day. Now I had a project on my plate I didn't really want or care to carve out the time for.

Then it got interesting.

In the lanyard were two cards, one an ID badge and one a certification from some kind of training. Neither card had a phone number. The credit card that was with the lanyard but not inside it appeared to belong to another person altogether. In other words, the names did not match. Hmm. I put my citizen's officer cap on and got to work. The only identifier was the name of the training company so I called them up. Eliza answered the phone and was very kind. She told me the man's number. I asked Eliza what state I was calling; Washington. I told her I was in Oklahoma, and she said, "My word," told her colleagues and asked my number.

I called the number she gave me for my lost person, but all I got was a weird beeping. Couldn't leave a voice mail. Then I tried to call the bank of the credit card. Yeah. Have you tried to call a bank lately? Apparently, no people work at banks anymore. You simply push buttons until you either hang up or get an answer that will have to do. I was unable to speak to an actual person. In fact, I could not get past the first set of menu options. By now my good samaritan vibe had long been replaced by irritated nice person.

But! But! My twitter friends came through for me! (Thanks, guys.) In addition to offering possible story lines for the three cards and the notebook, suggeting all manner of crimes and even the possible demise of the owner, I also got advice. One friend told me to call the police.

The police? Whatever. They don't care about that stuff. I should just put it in the mail and have done with it. But again, do I really want to trust the post office to get this stuff where it needs to be? Moreover, no mere citizen can handle this kind of sensitive issue with national implications. I have never in my life called the police, and for this I am grateful. I was kind of nervous. I called, I told them the story, rushing through it to get to the important parts. The friendly officer asked me to bring it by whenever I had a chance and that they'd try to return it.

Because I didn't want some guy's stuff in my house all week, I took it in yesterday. Two new experiences in one day. It's almost too much. Called and visited the police. Yep. I'm that girl. I told the story again, and the silver crew-cut, barrel-chested, baritoned officer called me ma'am. And he said I could come to work for them. As if.

Okay. So long story. Who cares? If you're still reading, you do. If you're gone, then you'll miss these little gems. Your loss.

Being a good samaritan is a pain in the butt. It is inconvenient. It is inviting yourself into a situation and then not getting to see the resolution. It's also a good way to have a little adventure. And, even if the dudes never get their cards back, I would have wanted someone to do the same thing for me.

The other interesting part is the story of the three cards and the notebook. How did they all come to be at a bus stop a half a world away from where they originated? How did two guys drop three cards in one place? Is it identity theft? Missing persons? I'm so curious and I'll never know, and I'm worried about them both. I want to know your theories. Leave a comment telling the story of the lost cards. I'll post the best story on Friday.


  1. Early Rapture!

    This sounds like one of those riddles like:

    A guy starts running. Turns left, takes another left, and another left, then sees a man with a mask. Where is he?

  2. You know, I don't think I've ever heard a sermon on the inconvenience of being a good Samaritan. You hear about the other guys, why they didn't want to cross the street, but you never hear, I bet the good Samaritan had places to go, people to see.

    Identity theft sounds like a real good option.