Never Lock Your Cell Phone

by | Apr 2, 2013

I was walking out of Nautical Nellie’s, a restaurant downtown, and I guess my phone fell out of my pocket.

A passing pedicab driver saw it and picked it up. He saw that the first number on my contacts list was as rival pedicab company across town (where I worked at the time), so he took the phone to the company headquarters and left it on a table. It remained for a week until I noticed it and picked it up.

On BC day the following year, Sarah McLachlan played at the legislative buildings, and afterwards I went for a bike ride in Beacon Hill park with a friend. We stopped for a nap on a sunny patch of grass, and when I got up, my phone again fell out of my pocket.

About half an hour later, my friend’s phone rang. It was my cousin. He was the second contact on my list, and the person who found my phone had called him. The three of them arranged a meeting at the entrance of the park, where my phone was returned to me.

At a bus shelter in Oak Bay, the young man I was with insisted on tango dancing with me while we waited for the bus. Distracted, we left a bag containing his iPod Touch on the shelter bench.

3 months later, he received an email from a woman.

“I found this iPod in my mom’s knickknacks box. She said she tried to return it, but couldn’t figure out how to turn it on. Ha! I’m sorry I accidentally deleted your pictures, but before I did I noticed that there were a lot of car pictures. I took some snaps of my son’s Hot Wheels to make up for it. If you meet me at Tillicum Mall I’ll give it back to you!”

And we did, and she did.

The first year I lived in Victoria, I dropped my wallet on the bus. I called BC Transit to ask after it – they had it. I went and picked it up. Everything was still there.

2 years before that, in Campbell River, I dropped a different wallet on a different bus. When I noticed, 4 hours later, I returned to the bus terminal. The first driver I saw recognized me, and said that my wallet was on the number 3 bus. “She’ll be back in an hour or so, if you don’t mind waiting.”

I waited, but I missed my ride home. When the driver who returned my wallet learned this, she offered to drop me wherever I needed, since she was just coming off shift and on her way back to the depot.

A different phone, different bus, a different city. Someone at my school found it. He emailed me, using the phone, to meet him in the Business building. He refused my offer of a thank-you coffee, as he was in a hurry to get back to class.

People are pretty awesome.

If you lock your phone and lose it, there’s nothing anyone can do with it but wipe the data and keep it. They can turn it in to your phone company, but it’s not satisfying. More likely they’ll put it in a knickknacks box and leave it there forever.

If you make it easy for people to return your stuff, they very often will. Take a chance.

Also, invest in decent pockets.