No good deed left unpunished

I ran up to the grocery store down the street yesterday afternoon for some dry rub to use on a chicken that I’d planned on grilling that evening. I hobbled on my crutches back to the car after making my purchases. When I got to the car, I noticed a cell phone on the ground to the right of my car. I walked over, picked it up and thought:

“Hmm. Someone’s cell phone. Wow! This would be the perfect opportunity to pay it forward. Less than a year ago I lost an iPhone in a cab in NYC and the person who found it made damn sure they didn’t try to find me. Oh, but there was that one time some 10 years ago when I left my phone in a bar. The guy who found it made sure to answer every incoming call and make sure that all of my friends knew he had my cell phone and gave them his contact information so I could call him.”

So I stuck the cell phone in my pocket, hopped in the car and drove home. When I got home, I opened the phone, found the owner’s address book and immediately scrolled through down to the H’s until I found “Home”. I hit ‘send’ and got either a modem or a fax machine. I opened the address book again and found the first entry to read “In Case of Emergency”. So again, I hit ‘send’.

This time a nice lady answered the phone. I told her that I had found a cell phone in the HEB parking lot and that I was trying to find the rightful owner so I could personally return it. Come to find out I was speaking with the owner’s mother in Arizona. She was obviously an elderly lady as the conversation went on for a bit and as she tried to find a number at which I would reach Darcy (the owner). She gave me a phone number and said it was Darcy’s husband’s phone number. I said thank you and told her I’d make to call him and make sure Darcy got her phone back. And I also made sure she had my name and my phone number before we hung up.

Just as I hung up, the cell phone rang. I answered, “Hello?”

Note: I don’t recall every detail of this conversation, but the gist of it was:

“Uh. I was trying to get in touch with Darcy”

“Cool. I just found this cell phone in the HEB parking lot and am trying to find the owner so I can return it.”

“Okay. Well I’m her husband. She owns a local coffee shop. If you’re out, maybe you could drop it by there.”

“Well, I just got home from the store, was going to start cooking soon and hadn’t planned on going back out.”

“Where are you?”

Thinking that he might be willing to come over and pick up the phone: “I’m in Circle C, right off Barstow”

I don’t recall much more of the conversation but do remember him saying, “I don’t even know if my wife’s in town”. So right there things seemed a little off, but I didn’t think anything of it. I made sure he got my name, home number and my cell number and I was kind of under the impression that Darcy would call me to coordinate getting her phone back.

My cell phone rings around 8:30 this morning as I’m driving to work. It’s Darcy. Cool. I can get her cell phone back to her. I was enthused that I would be given the opportunity to save someone the anguish of having lost their cell phone. I’d consciously kept the phone so I could make sure that it made it back into the hands of it’s rightful owner.

Darcy and I made small talk. I told her that I’d talked to her mother the evening before as well as her husband. She told me she was the owner of a local coffee shop and if it was possible for me to drop it off. Unfortunately I was on my way to work and wasn’t going to backtrack toward the house to return a cell phone. And I told her as much. I informed her that I had meetings in the morning, but if she wanted to, she could call me during the day and I’d be more than willing to meet her halfway if that was convenient for her or I could drop the phone off at the coffee shop on my way home from work this evening. I made sure to let her know that I worked in the OMNI in downtown Austin, thinking that might give her a point of reference should she want to meet at a midway point during the day.

She went on to say that she needed her phone, that she uses it, it has her calendar in it and her kids call her on it, blah blah blah. Yeah, I totally get it (I’m thinking to myself), but I’m on my way to work, the cell phone is safe, you’ll have your phone by 5:30 tonight at the latest.

If memory serves me correctly, she told me she’d call me later. She already had my cell number and also asked for my office number, which I gave to her.

Around noon my cell phone rings. It’s Darcy. Cool. I was almost done with my meeting and I could leave to meet her and delivery her cell phone. She said she was about to leave the coffee shop and come to the OMNI to pick up her phone. Even better! I wouldn’t have to leave the office. I told her to just call my cell phone when she was in the lobby and I would meet her downstairs.

Twenty minutes later, my phone rings. It’s Darcy again. I told her I would be right down with her phone. She asks, “but how am I supposed to know what you look like?” To which I replied, “I’ll be the only guy on crutches.”

So I take the elevator down (From my office. Where I work. Where I go every day to work hard and earn good money to support my wife and daughter) and hobble over to the Starbuck’s kiosk, where she told me she was waiting. There’s nobody at the Starbuck’s kiosk that looks like they’re looking to be reunited with their cell phone. So I call the number that had just called me a couple minutes prior. I get the coffee house’s voicemail. Hmmmm.

Next thing… BLAM. No, I didn’t get hit, but I might as well have. Some guy made a mad walking dash and stood right in front of me, his face barely a foot away from mine. A little too intimate, but hey, I’m a nice guy and I smiled.

“I’m Darcy’s husband!”

“Great! Here you go.” And I took the phone out of my pocket and handed it over to him.

He then said something to the effect of, “Just so you know, this is really, really, Really, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY CREEPY!!!”

My inner monologue immediately kicked in and said, “WTF?!?”

Then I lowered my brow with inquisition and said, “How’s that?”

To which he rattled on about how “really creepy” this whole thing was. About how they had asked if I could return to phone to the coffee shop or to the grocery store or to the concierge’s desk at the hotel (the OMNI is half hotel – half office buildings – which in hind sight probably did seem weird: “Hey, lady, I’ve got your cell phone. Meet me at a downtown hotel to pick it up). I don’t recall the request to leave the phone at the grocery store or at the front desk of the hotel. The did twice inform me that they owned a coffee shop and I could leave it there, which I was totally fine with doing on my way home from work when it was more convenient.

The conversation quickly became heated. He said, “look at this from a woman’s perspective.” And again he pointed out the creepiness. Which I didn’t think of at the time. I was just wanting to make sure that I personally saw to it that someone got their phone back. While this guy was berating me, I was trying to let him know that I was no way insistent that his wife meet me anywhere, all the while I could see where he was coming from. I threw out the good samaritan card, which he threw back into my face. It was at about that point that I’d pretty much given up on the conversation. I told him I had a wife and a daughter. He didn’t care. He pegged me in public as a sexual predator. A premeditated cell phone recovery rapist.

I gave everyone involved in this situation up to this point my home, cell and office numbers. They knew where I worked. Approximately where I lived. I went so far as to give the husband my business card. In hind sight, that probably wasn’t a good idea. I was done with this guy. He used the word creepy a few more times and I just walked off.

I was just so taken aback. I was completely knocked off guard for trying to do the right thing. And the way that he immediately jumped in my face and all but called me a psychopath, I was thrown into this innocent defensive mode, trying to defend myself against something I wasn’t remotely guilty of.

I hobbled back to the elevators shaking. I couldn’t believe what had just happened to me. Part of me was still shaken because I was conscious of the fact that at any point during that conversation, it wouldn’t have surprised me if he took a swing at me. And the other part was just filled with rage because I was totally caught off guard, completely unarmed and not aware that there was any kind of paranoia on their end.

And finally I just went back to my desk and resolved to the fact that I was just hurt. I tried to do something nice for someone and was rewarded by a kick in the nuts.

I steamed about it for a while, consulted with one of my friends and then had the whole ordeal pinging me in the back of the head for the rest of the day. I was at a point where I started putting a lot of my faith back into society and then something like this has to happen.

So I hope this guy, Darcy and the rest of their family does their research on me. I’m not that hard to find.

I’m sure it’s going to bug me for a while. And if I find a lost item of value in the future, unfortunately I’m going to think twice about doing what I feel is the right thing. I guess what’s most important is that I’m sorry that this family had to endure whatever happened to them that has caused them to react this way.

4 Replies to “No good deed left unpunished”

  1. That is ridiculous. If you were a cell phone recovery predatory rapist, why wouldn’t you go to their coffee shop where you would then know where to find her? What could you possibly do in the Omni downtown with tons of people around. This was rude and completely unacceptable. Man, that is just not fair, I hope these people think again about how lucky they are to get the cellphone back and not lose it forever.

  2. I’m sorry this happened to you. It is very hurtful to try do something nice, and go out of your way to help someone, and then be completely kicked in the ass instead. A similar, but not quite as crazy and dramatic, happened to me when I found someone’s cell phone. While mountain biking through the woods, I saw a phone lying off to the side of the trail. I picked up the phone and continued on, stopping to answer a few calls, until the owner himself called. He was still in the woods biking with friends, so I offered to meet him near a landmark. I pedaled over and waited for about fifteen minutes before a group of bikers finally approached. He just held out his hand and yelled, “The phone’s mine”. I put it in his hand and he biked on. No stopping, and most importantly, no thank you for finding the phone. I was quite hurt and confused too, about trying to do something nice for someone and then feeling like I had inconvenienced the person instead????

  3. Well thanks to that particular cell-phone owner you dealt with, I will be running my truck over any orphaned cell phones. For two reasons, 1) to be a good samaritan and not let the owner’s phone and data therein get into the hands of some criminal and 2) to not have to deal with the wacked mentality of some people who have always wanted to pick a fight, never gotten a chance, and then find the chance in the one person trying to be kind and help them. Hmmph.

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