I recently flew from Washington, DC to Orlando, FL; when I went to get my iPod Nano out of the seatback pocket after landing in Orlando, I found this:
Sweet! An iPod Touch, loaded with music, games and all sorts of apps! I’m a winner!
But then I noticed something else; it also had access to the Gmail account of the owner, so I had his email address. And there were pictures of his recent vacation to Costa Rica. And of his kids. It was obvious that this is something he would like to have back.
So I emailed him twice with no response, which was interesting since I could SEE the emails getting to his Gmail account and see that they were unread. I don’t think he uses Gmail for much so it was starting to look like “Hey, I did my part and now I have a new iPod Touch!”.
But no. I didn’t feel good about that. As someone who loves to research things and find answers, I KNEW I could track this guy down somehow and give him a nice Christmas gift.
So after some further legwork, I found a reference to where he seemed to work. I looked up that place (in Washington DC), called the organization and asked for him and was informed that he had left for the day. I mentioned to his secretary that I may have found his iPod and that he could call me so we could arrange it getting back to him.
He called in about two minutes, and in fact while I was on the phone with him another of his colleagues called me to tell me that he was going to call.
Obviously he was REALLY excited to get this back.
He asked what I wanted to get it back to him: a reward, at least paying for my time and shipping charges, whatever. The shipping charges were only $5 with a USPS Flat Rate Box so I asked if he could do me a favor instead, as he did sound like a pretty decent guy:
“As corny as it sounds, just pay it forward. The next time you have a chance to do something for someone, please do and we’ll call it even.”
It felt right. I wish during these crazy holidays when everyone is so stressed about the economy, finding the perfect gifts, dealing with crazy family and all that we could remember that we are all just trying to get by in this world, and that doing the smallest thing for someone else can have an effect far beyond your own effort. And the more goodwill circling in the world, the better chance there is that some will come back to you.
And even if it doesn’t, it still feels good to do the right thing.