Monday, August 16, 2010

Saskatoon's Semi-Secret Lost and Found

This article about stolen bikes appeared in the Star Phoenix today, which reminded me about a cool story I have about the City of Saskatoon's Lost and Found department.

Read the article for details about Saskatoon's Lost and Found program. Essentially, the City has a huge warehouse where missing property is directed to - they say everything except for pets, people, and automobiles.

In 2007, I was walking home from the pub when I was jumped by three bandana-wearing kids who demanded my wallet and cell phone. I complied (I was in no state of mind to protest), but strangely, they let me keep my credit cards and ID from my wallet. Someone later suggested this could have been a gang initiation ("bring us back a wallet and a phone") and they were feeling guilty, but who knows.

Anyway, my cell phone was gone for good and I assumed the same for my wallet, which only had $20, my blood donor card, SIN card (dumb! don't do this!), health card, and a few random membership cards left after I hurriedly grabbed my credit cards and government ID.

Funny side story - the next day I took inventory of my missing cards. I called Canadian Blood Services to report a stolen card (I was being a keener - I didn't know if there was any privacy risks involved). I had to be transferred to a manager because no one had ever called to report their blood donor card as stolen.

Anyway, six months after the robbery, I got an ambiguous manilla envelope in the mail with the return address "LOST AND FOUND, ONTARIO AVE, SASKATOON" - that was it. I opened the envelope and there was my wallet, covered in dirt. No accompanying note or documentation. The $20 was missing but the cards that I'd left in it were still there, including my health card and SIN card.

I was very impressed that a random stranger would take the time to submit my dirty wallet to the City, and that the City would take the time to track down an address from my documentation to send my wallet back. I vowed, right then and there, to pay it forward and do the same if I ever got a chance.

That opportunity came sooner than I thought - when I inspected the contents of my wallet I found that my random cards had been bundled with someone else's student card, library card, health card, blood donor card, and Scotiabank card.

I tracked down the guy's email address from the student card and managed to successfully reunite another stranger with their random wallet contents. It was strange they were bundled together, because we had lost them completely different ways.

Moral of the story: Most cities have a huge lost and found warehouse that is occasionally successful at reuniting people with their missing goods! Thanks, City of Saskatoon!