Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Trust Karma

A few weeks back, I found a wallet on Caltrain. I opened it up to find a Drivers License, 700 or so dollars and 70 Euros Cash, and a business card from a Mercedes dealer, with a quote for a $65,000 car on the back. I recognized the photo on the DL as a guy who had just gotten off at Menlo Park. By the time I made SF, I had contacted the Mercedes Dealer, gotten the business phone and email of the guy, called and emailed him, and not getting direct contact, dropped the wallet off at the SF Caltrain station. He emailed me back the next day thanking me. I figured that sooner or later I would suffer his fate, and decided that the karma from getting this guy his wallet back would protect me and get me my stuff back.

Today, I was in fact protected by that karma, but I suffered a few minor penalties for not having the faith.

This month, due to being away July 1-5, and a week in the middle, I decided to forego my Monthly Caltrain Pass. This will probably save me $30 or so - after tax preference maybe $20. I have already decided this isn't ever worth it, but I did it anyway. This is especially true since I am using Translink and forgetting to tag off a couple of times will suck up that $30 real fast. And then you have today's incident.

I rode to Millbrae from home, and as I was pulling into the station, so was the train. Since I didn't have a pass, instead of just rolling onto the train, I had to fiddle with my wallet, find the translink card, and tag in. Fortunately this went smoothly and I got on. Too smoothly it turns out, as I put my translink card back into an empty wallet, and looked back in horror to see my DL, Credit Cards, etc... on the platform, and the door closing. I saw an older woman trying to buy a train ticket, and frantically waved at her and pointed at my stash, she just returned a puzzled look. Doh!

The conductor wandered into the car and I mentioned my predicament. He quickly radioed the train 15 minutes behind us, asking them to check the platform - and I could meet the train in Mountain View to get the stuff. 15 minutes later, he returned, shaking his head - they didn't find the stuff. "Hopefully someone turned it into BART".

Occam's razor disagrees - the simplest explanation is that the old woman got her ticket, saw my stuff, and got on the train. She's the most likely person to have found the cards, and the following train was a local that wouldn't exactly attract a lot of passengers. The BART office is a longish walk up some stairs. So while I accepted the BART angle as a possibility, the most likely scenario was that my stuff was on that train.

The pro move would be to get off in Redwood City and just wait for the train there. Instead, I stayed on to Mountain View, using the time to block my ATM and Credit Cards. Unfortunately, the Credit Cards could only be cancelled. Oh well, I'll use that as an exploit - yesterday I had found out we had neglected to cancel our Consumer Reports subscription after buying all the baby gear. This will take care of that.

Arriving Mountain View, I asked the conductor if he had heard anything more. He said "I called them, they don't have your stuff". I had one more card to cancel anyway, so I sat down to make the phone call, have a bite to eat, and wait for the following train.

The train arrived and I got on, and asked the conductor. She said "We looked pretty hard and didn't see anything". I said "I was hoping a passenger had the stuff and turned it in". She radioed the other conductor - no dice. Then, my phone rang, a 650 number. Aha! I answered the phone.

"Hello John, this is David Vanderwilt, your Dentist". I said "I'm guessing you know where my Credit Cards are". He said, "Why yes, someone named 'Jean' has them and here is her number". The conductor gave me a pen and paper to write them down. As we pulled into Sunnyvale I asked the conductor if she minded me riding to Lawrence Station (next zone, beyond what I had paid for), she said "no sweat". Now I did something really stupid...

Instead of *dialing* the phone number, I entered it into a note on my phone and went back to bullshitting with the conductor. I got off the train, sat down on the bench, and called 'Jean'.

"Hi Jean, this is John Murphy - apparently you have my credit cards"

"Why yes, I do. I have them with me right here. I am on the Caltrain right now - we just left Lawrence Station, what do you want me to do with them???"

Doh!

Now that you've made it this far - I leave you with the stylings of Noe Valley's finest doing their thing at the Plaza Public Outreach Meeting.

2 comments:

Yokota Fritz said...

I've never lost my own wallet, but have found a handful of wallets, the occasional credit card, and a couple of cell phones that all found their ways back to their owners.

Bret said...

I too have experienced loosing a wallet on Caltrain. Just as I was going to cancel my cards a guy called from SM station. He saw it on the tracks. It fell out of my pocket and under the train as I was boarding. He saw it in the twilight. I don't remember how he got my number, but I got my wallet back.
Suggestion Murph, just tag the card with it still in your wallet. I do this all the time and it has never failed.