06 May 2009


picture by carf
When I went out to buy my lunch I had it with me; but when I got back to my desk and unwrapped my sandwich .... it had gone.

My phone.

Oops. Cue lots of slapping of pockets, checking inside sandwich bags, and let-me-see-now-when-did-I-last use-it?  Until I had a more sensible idea: I called my own number, and was strangely nonplussed when it was answered immediately.

She had found it in Canary Wharf, she said, in a strong Italian accent (or was it Polish?). No she was no longer in the Wharf, but she would be back later this afternoon, could I meet her at 4?  I could.

It was 12.45; three hours. How much, I wondered, would three hours on the phone to Rome cost me? Or Warsaw. I thought of phoning Orange and having the SIM disabled... but it occured to me that if I did that then I wouldn't be able to contact her again. Reluctantly, I went with the trust thing.

Three hours later I turned up, not entirely confidently, to find my limited faith in human nature boosted: there standing patiently in Cabot Square was an attractive and elegant woman clutching my phone.  I was smug that I had thought of turning up with bunch of palest and pinkest perfect tulips for her, and she accepted them gracefully with a smile, handing me, in return, my precious Nokia. She was Italian; there was a brief moment when I nearly kissed her, and an even briefer one where she seemed to expect me to. But it passed and we went our separate ways.

"Thanks again", I called to her as she left, "muchas gracias!", I yelled, for I am an oaf.


M4GD said...

Ahh Shame on you: No Kiss:-) Oh Botogol you are just so funny! Here is a warm Grazie mille for your sharing this story and to the lady!
So you ‘reluctantly, went with the trust thing …and found…your limited faith in human nature boosted.’ That is both lucky and lovely. Congratulations! Trust is a virtue. Kind gestures like these are truly heart-warming. Someone once wrote:”Woe to the man whose heart has not learned while young to hope, to love, and to put its trust in life.” Naturally, within any context, it can be a true trying struggle to ‘trust’ especially if ‘once bitten, twice shy’ keeps floating in the frontal lobe! Perhaps the trust in this situation was calculated. It was just your phone with a stranger. It was not your heart, your child, or your life. Thus, you were left with finite expectation, and equally finite probabilities of its ending!

But let’s dig deeper: Two days ago, for the first time I came across the work of Dr. Brian Weiss, a medical doctor and prominent psychiatrist - a Yale and Columbia graduate. I was sent a book called “Only Love is Real” Weiss speaks of past-life regression therapy yielding results and helping his patients to heal from grief and anxiety…etc. For a skeptic, I was flabbergasted by the accounts he shared from these sessions. Since the book is still fresh in my mind, when I read your post I thought perhaps you helped this lady in a prior life. For whatever reason, it was time to reunite however brief it was i.e. a matter of an open and shut encounter and not necessarily as friends, colleagues, lovers, or soul mates! Hence, “…it passed and we went our separate ways”! But not all is lost - you were left to feel humbled and warm. Priceless! Perhaps that is what you needed to feel at that moment that day!

Or perhaps it is a simple case of ‘kindness begets kindness’ and so it seems you are kind (even without a kiss) :-) Angels are watching over you! (I just started ’Angels and Ages’)

a cynic said...

Have you checked your bill yet?

Burgin Streetman said...

I don't know... this one (like the New Years in France story) says to me that you appreciate these brief encounters with strangers... vaguely intimate, mildly sexy, but harmless all the same.

real life expectations can be a pisser. it is nice in the unreal when no one expects anything and you can be pleasantly surprised.

the oaf line was the best part.

keep writing.

Botogol said...


@M4GD - remembering encounters from past lives? No, I have enough trouble remembering people from *this* life :-)

@cynic - no! hmmm, I guess I will find out at the end of the month

@scribbler - in bloggus veritas (for I am, indeed, an oaf)
Hey, do they have oafs in Texas? Toby Keith perhaps?

It's tempting to suppose that encounters with strangers reveal an inner truth - but I suspect the contrary.

pascal said...

This reminds me of an encounter I had with an Italian lady, many years ago when I was a Housemaster. She was the mother of two of my charges, a pleasant, hard-working and rather dull girl, and a genial, lazy and somewhat arrogant boy.
I was aware of the perfume before I opened the door and a beautiful, elegant and immaculate vision entered. I was quite overwhelmed and told her how wonderful her children were, and probably how wonderful she was as well.
Before she left she presented me with an expensive, blue Italian bowl which, to this day, has pride of place on my sideboard.
Like you, I nearly kissed her and was left wondering if she had expected me to. Then she and the moment were gone.

outside-jane said...

A couple of years ago, on my way to work, I found a phone on the Tube. I rang it and told the person what had happened... or I tried to! When I said 'I have your phone...' I got an earful of abuse for 'stealing it'! I pointed out that had I stolen her phone I would be unlikely to then phone her on it. She calmed down and asked me to bring the phone to her office. I said I was on my way to work and did not have the time - 'but I need it!' she whined.

I said, quite irritated at this point, that since she was stupid enough to leave her phone on the tube perhaps she should come to my office to collect it. She agreed, but sulkily. I gave her the address and my name but before we could agree a time the credit ran out.

Half an hour later I get a call from security saying there is a woman downstairs claiming I had stolen her phone and could she have it back!

I went downstairs and returned it to her, under the stern gaze of our Security Manager. She didn't bring me flowers.

MysteryShopper said...

One of your best. Ever.