untitled, 2004 -- by chad

I generally always try to do the right thing. What I mean is if I find a wallet, or a cellphone, or something of value that I definitely could use but just doesn't belong to me, I'll do everything I can to make sure it ends up reunited with its owner. For example, I once found a wallet on the Alameda Harbor Bay ferry one night back in, oh, 1998 or 1999. I was pretty broke at that point; I had just started a new job and hadn't been paid in over a month. I opened up the wallet, looking for an ID, or credit card, but there were none. However, there was $750 in cash.

I was stunned.

The ferry had just deposited a load of passengers from San Francisco returning to Alameda, and was pulling away from the dock. I bolted to the upper deck to try to see if anyone was standing outside looking like they had lost something, but the people were just shuffling to their cars and saying good night to each other, Mayberry-style. It seemed nothing was amiss.

However, I knew somebody was going to be missing that cash, especially three days before Christmas. I found a paycheck stub, and when I got home, I called the company, eventually getting someone's boss on the line. My roommates at the time were saying I was stupid, to keep the money, and my little Good Samaritan schtick was so, so Midwestern.

And people wonder why I referred to them as my Evil Stepsisters. They were just bitter because we lived in the Haight-Ashbury and they were total Castro queens, trapped in the apartment because of rent control.

More about them in another post...the nude step aerobics by one of them in the front window during dinner hours is a story of its own.

I eventually tracked down the owner of the wallet, a young woman in her early twenties, and we agreed to meet at the ferry terminal on a Wednesday evening. When I handed her the wallet and assured here every single dollar was still in it, she burst into tears and hugged me.

"I didn't think there were people like you still left in the world," she sobbed.

"What do you mean?" I asked. "That's not my wallet, not my money, and I figured someone was missing it. I'm just glad I got it back to you before Christmas."

"Yeah," she said, wiping her eyes. "That's my Christmas shopping money. I have to run out tonight and get my shopping done." She then pulled a small package out of her purse. "Here. This is for you."

Smiling, I opened it. It was a beautiful Christmas ornament. I still have it, actually, and it hung on the last Christmas tree I ever had, back in 2000. Maybe I'll finally have one this year, who knows?

The next day, I was walking down Montgomery Street in the Financial District, hungry, the day before I was supposed to be paid, shuffling my feet, looking at my shoes. Suddenly, a $20 bill blew onto my foot, and kind of stuck to my toe. I reached down, picked it up, and looked around. Nobody seemed to be looking for a Jackson they had dropped, and the sidewalk was crowded and bustling. Smiling, I walked into a deli, and ordered a sandwich.

But wait...there's more. I never got to the whole point of this post.

Back a few months ago, I went to Fresh at Ruby Skye, and checked my bag when I walked in. Somehow, someone's cellphone ended up in my bag, as I discovered when it suddenly rang the next day. I called my phone with it so I could get the number, then called the phone to leave a voice message for the owner, saying I had the phone in North Beach, I'd be happy to give it back to him, and no, I had no intention of collecting ransom for it. The next day, the owner, a hot little twentysomething club kid, met me at Columbus and Broadway, and I returned his phone. In return, he handed me a Peter Rauhofer mix cd, and gave me a big hug. In the back of my mind, I always wondered if I ever lost my phone, would I get it back?

I figured I probably wouldn't.

Fast forward a few months...sometime last Friday night, while I was hanging out in the Mission District, my cellphone was either plucked from my pocket or it fell out...but all I know is at some point in the evening, I reached for my phone and it wasn't there, nor was it in my bag. Panic rising in my throat, I came to the realization that I no longer had my new phone, and it annoyed the hell out of me.

I went to a payphone and left a new outgoing message on my voicemail, saying I had lost the phone and it would probably be a while until I would be able to get back to anyone. I then went home, disgusted, and dreading having to replace my new phone, and reprogram yet another one. I then spent most of the weekend phone-less, which actually wasn't that bad. I briefly entertained going to the Castro for the Easter party thrown by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, but to be honest...the thought of freezing my ass off with thousands of homosexuals crammed on one street absolutely nauseated me. Besides...if you've seen one Hunky Jesus contest, you've seen them all.

Been there. Done that. Have better things to do. Next, please.

Monday morning, I met Chris A. at the gym, and he smiled. "I have good news," he told me.


"I made the mistake of calling your phone this morning, forgetting you had lost it, and someone answered it. A woman. In Fremont."

"You're fucking kidding me," I exclaimed.

Turns out, early Saturday morning, a man who works in the Mission saw some tweaker standing on the corner of 19th and Mission, selling a Motorola i730 for $5. He walked up to him, and said he wanted to buy the phone, figuring it was someone else's phone, and he'd try to find out who it belonged to. He took it home, and since my phone tends to ring every five minutes, it wasn't long before they knew who it belonged to. Thing is, nobody who called knew how to get into contact with me, and it was a chance of fate that Chris A. called by mistake and got them on the line.

So later that day, we drove out to Fremont, a working-class suburb located in the East Bay. We stopped at Lowe's, where I bought a big bowl of planted flowers, and went to the house. I was greeted by a 4 year-old, who ran up to me, eyeing my bowl of flowers, and asked, "Need some help with that?"

"Sure do...here ya go." I handed him the bowl, and he gingerly carried it back to the porch, being extremely carful not to tip it. A woman walked out the front door and handed me my phone, and I gave her the $6 her husband had spent.

My antenna is all chewed up and bent, presumably from the tweaker kid, and some of my settings were changed, but all in all, it's intact, and I have all my phone numbers. Even now, I'm looking at my phone, and I can't believe I actually have it back.

I guess I was wrong. Sometimes my karma really does come back to me.

© 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 by Chad Fox. All rights reserved.