A white iPhone

Late last Saturday night, following an nice get together at a friend’s place, I grabbed a cab to go home. The driver was blessedly quiet — I wasn’t in the mood to chat. Other than an occasional exchange about directions and the intermittent buzzing of his phone, it was a peaceful ride across the city’s quiet night streets. After paying the fare, I popped open the door to leave and automatically looked down to scan the now-illuminated back seat in case anything had dropped out of my purse. Down on the cream coloured seat was a phone; unmistakably, an iPhone, a black and white compact of good design. Take it, take it! If you don’t he’ll take it and keep it!  I took it.

It felt heavier in my hand than I’d expected. I’m deviceless  these days and pretty out of touch when it comes to Smartphones, particularly iPhones.  Before I got my keys into the front door, the phone started buzzing. And buzzing. It continued to buzz as I got in, removed my coat and boots, shooed away the dog  and turned on the lights.  A minute of silence passed and the buzzing resumed. It was frantic. Shrill. Finally, the screen went black and the pleading vibrations ended. I poured a drink of water and pushed a button on the phone. A photo popped up of a dark-haired young woman flanked by a much taller young man, both in formal wear, smiling up at me. It must belong to her, I thought. But she seemed to have given up for now. The phone and I retired for the night.

In the morning when I entered the kitchen, the iPhone was sitting quietly on the table. a nervous stranger. Maybe its battery had died. I pushed a button and a stream of frantic texts filled the screen. “Please can you give back my phone?”  I got out my old  cover for the BlackBerry my job had once provided. It didn’t fit. I considered my options.

An iPhone costs hundreds of dollars. I knew from my teenaged son that there were means and ways of activating used phones, I’d heard of terms like ‘jail breaking’ and Sim cards. I was pretty sure my son would be excited that I’d finally be an iPhone user like him, that he’d be quick to offer to get the thing working. Then I too could be staring down intently at my device instead of awkwardly observing my folded hands while riding the subway. I thought to myself: I think I’ve scored. The thing was, an iPhone wasn’t anywhere near the top of my score list. And by God, there is a list and it includes some pretty hefty items, most of them not even material. What if I returned the phone? Would that set the great universe into motion to give me something back that I really needed?

My son finally woke up and descended to the kitchen. I had been waiting with some anticipation for him, to bask a bit in his adolescent reaction to my unexpected prize.  Before I had a chance to point it out to him, he spied the iPhone on the table. “What?” he exclaimed. I told him about finding the phone and how it had been buzzing and buzzing last night.  “You know what?” he said, holding the phone, “This is going to be my first good deed of 2013. I’m going to call them and give them back their phone.”  That was it. The decision was made. We called one of the frequent texters (the owner’s boyfriend — I told you it belonged to a girl) and I arranged to meet her at the nearby mall to return her phone.

When we met, I knew it had been the right decision. She was a tomboyish girl of maybe 20 with an uncommon Armenian name, a beautiful aquiline face and a sweet disposition. She told of frantically realizing she’d left her phone in the cab, of calling the cab company and having a service-wide bulletin issued. She was breathless with relief and had all but given up hope of ever seeing her phone again. But one of her friends had said that you never know, there are always a few good Samaritans out there. She held up $20 or maybe more and said, “This is for you, thank you so much.”  I told her to forget about it but asked her to promise that she would do something nice in turn for someone else. She promised she would and we parted.

I went on to shop, thinking of how I could’ve saved a few bucks had I taken her money, but hopeful that maybe the universe was already at work to give me a break. When I returned home, I told my son I was proud of him and that I must have raised him right, after all.

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