In lieu of a post on an obscure Texas law this week, I have a bizarre story for you. This is a true story about something that happened to a coworker of mine in Washington DC this past week. I’m trying to convince her to write something about it for the Washington Post, but she doesn’t think it’s newsworthy. I disagree simply because it is so crazy and bizarre (and funny to everyone but her). So here goes.
My coworker, we’ll call her Lindsay, is a Marine officer and lawyer. Lindsay lives alone in a basement apartment in a, how should we say it, not-so-well-to-do section of Washington DC. She calls it a “transitional community.” On Monday morning, Lindsay woke up, got dressed, put on a pot of coffee and plugged her cell phone into her computer that was on the coffee table in the living room. Then she noticed a package waiting for her outside her front door. Lindsay went outside to get the package and did not lock the front door when she came back in. After all, who needs to lock the front door when they are about to walk right back out of it in 10 minutes to go to work?
Lindsay then went back to her bathroom to tie her hair into a neatly shaped bun, a daily requirement for female Marines (those with long hair at least). When she returned to her living room (only 10 minutes later) to retrieve her piping hot cup of Joe she went to grab her cell phone and found that it was missing. Not only that, the computer to which she had just plugged it in was also missing. Knowing good and well that her coffee had not yet begun to take the desired effect, Lindsay began questioning whether she had actually plugged her phone into her computer 10 minutes ago. “Was this the early onset of Alzheimer’s?” she thought as she checked the refrigerator and freezer for her computer and phone. Finally, after scouring the house, she gave up and went to work.
Lindsay told me about her troubles as soon as she walked in the door to our Pentagon office and then she called her bank and credit card company. Believing now that someone had entered her house and stolen her laptop and phone, she also tried to report the incident to the DC police, but they refused to take the complaint. “You have to be calling us from inside your home or we cannot do anything.” She protested by kindly pointing out that the perpetrator had stolen her phone, but they weren’t convinced.
Right about now you might be thinking, “Okay, so what? She was burglarized. What’s so crazy about that?” Well here’s the crazy (and ridiculously lucky) part of the story. About an hour after she got to work, Lindsay received an odd message. Someone had called our office to report that she was in possession of Lindsay’s computer and cell phone. Lindsay called the woman who confirmed that she indeed had the laptop and cell phone and they arranged a time and place to meet up. When Lindsay met the woman she received the rest of the story.
This woman (the one that found the laptop and phone) was walking to work near the Washington Navy Yard when she saw a little homeless man walking down the street carrying a laptop and an iPhone. In fact, the iPhone was still plugged into the compter. Finding the Apple-laden homeless man a bit out of place, the woman approached the him and said “Hey, I don’t think that laptop and cell phone belong to you. How about I buy you some breakfast at McDonald’s and you give me the laptop and cell phone so that I can return them to their rightful owner.” (After all, what’s a MacBook Pro when you can have a tasty egg McMuffin, right?) The homeless man agreed, enjoyed a McDonald’s breakfast and promptly relinquished the contraband items.
Later Lindsay paid the kind woman back for the homeless man’s breakfast and thanked her for stepping in. She is still pretty “creeped-out” as she puts it, that a random homeless man just let himself into her apartment while she was in the back room, but she has learned a valuable lesson about locking the door behind her. As Lindsay told us the story while we went for a jog around Capitol Hill, we wondered whether we would stop a homeless man to ask where he got a laptop/phone. We’re not sure we would have done that, but Lindsay sure is glad someone did.