When we got to the last station this morning I found a personless backpack at my feet. I thought, whoops, pretty sad to forget your backpack on the UBahn. My second thought was, well, this is an "unattended baggage" problem that doesn't need to be mine.
But then it was, & I hadn't sat next to anyone shady -- a 20-something woman listening to music, then a middle-aged man head over heels in love with his companion, headed out of town judging by their bags. But I was engrossed in a Kent Haruf novel about compassionate people on the Great Plains and hadn’t paid much attention. The UBahn lights went off, which means GET OUT so I grabbed the backpack and got out.
I felt bad rifling through the backpack but no way but forward. The wallet was stuffed with Swiss francs & the plastic had a male name so I knew it was the man's. There was also a phone, laptop, glasses, gloves & files. I thought, ok, this guy is on his way to Switzerland minus some very important stuff, which he's surely realized by now. I found the platform for the one train to Switzerland but didn't spot him. I went to lost&found but was told since I found it in the UBahn & not a long-distance train I had to go to another office downtown. Mr. X's long lovebird weekend would be ruined by the time all that played out. I kept hoping he'd call his phone, but alas. I thought about how unmoored I'd be without my glasses.
I went to my office & burrowed deeper into his things. I found his Twitter profile but he never tweeted & there was nothing revealing otherwise. In his wallet I unearthed a Swiss consulate ID. I called the consulate & got the robot who says "if you are calling about A push B, etc." Finally I pushed 86 & got a human & explained the situation & asked how I could reach this man or talk to a colleague. I was put on hold. A few minutes later a breathless woman came on & said the man had just called & gee what luck & was I British that's some accent & she took my number & said he'd call. He was at the police station at the train station. I hadn't known there was one.
Soon after he rang & I said I worked nearby & could bring the backpack over. I worried he'd be offended that I looked through his stuff, which was absurd. I asked a station worker where the police station was & I was standing right next to it. So much for my sleuthery! I remembered the old New Yorker cartoon of a man standing below a sign that said "The Illiterate Club" who asks, 'Hey, where is The Illiterate Club?' It was more imperial in there than I expected, except for the guy and his girlfriend who were thrilled and a smiling police woman who downgraded the case from theft to forgetfulness. The guy handed me 50 euros but of course I said no thanks. Go on your trip and give it to someone who needs it, I said in the spirt of my reading.