Once Upon a Time They Lived Happily Ever After
Once Upon a Time They Lived Happily Ever After
Sometimes the honest deeds of humble taxi drivers make the headlines. Occasionally, we read of an erstwhile unlucky passenger being re-united with an item or items that had got left behind. Often passengers are tired and sleepy in the back of a cab after a long journey or a hard day at the office and that lost phone or bag or wallet sits on the back seat until somebody else discovers it. It has been the subject of movies where an unsuspecting cab driver finds a brown paper bag stuffed with banknotes, only to find that his stroke of good fortune is short lived when he discovers he is being hunted down by angry gang members seeking repatriation with their drug money. I don’t know how many times I have arrived home to find something sticking out of the side of a seat cushion, usually a phone, but I’ve even found a bra! Don’t ask, I don’t know!
Many times the items are reunited with their grateful owners, however sometimes, they just languish waiting for someone to try and contact the cab owner. Obviously, if there is any material value in an item they are deposited at a police station, if you can find one. With the increased use of payment cards there is a resulting increase of traceability as long as the customer takes the receipt.
One astonishing act of honesty purely as a result of serendipity happened to us whilst travelling in Japan. We arrived at Hakata Station on the Island of Kyushu at around 1pm and asked a taxi to take us to the Fukuoka Tower, a journey of around 20-30 minutes. The journey was interesting for me because I was able to have a taxi driver related chat in half English and half Japanese with a cabbie that was trying to learn English. I in turn was trying to learn Japanese, so between us we had a grand old chat in this oddly mixed language. My how we laughed.
Several hours later we had returned to Hakata by bus and after a meal in a local restaurant we were walking back to our hotel. Suddenly we were surprised by being intercepted by none other than our cab driver from several hours before. He told me that we had left something in his cab and had spotted us by chance walking along the station concourse. Rather puzzled by his assertions none of our party of four seemed to be missing anything. “Chotto Matte”, (just a minute) he said and ran to his nearby cab and produced a bundle of travel brochures and a Daily Mail that my wife Liz had inadvertently left behind. She said “I had no idea” anyway we were eternally grateful to be re-united with our litter (I must try that one). The driver had no idea that it was of any value to us or not, the astonishing thing was that purely by chance he spotted us and was able to give it back.
And so to Friday’s story. In the afternoon I picked up a young couple from Terminal 5 at London Heathrow. They were memorable because the young lady was oriental and the man was western and carrying a small child. They were going a reasonably short distance to a local hotel and staying one night on a layover to continue their journey the following day.
Next thing I returned to Terminal 5 and collected a lady that was going to the Mayfair Hotel, a prestigious hotel in Central London. This journey was remarkable only because she had no idea how far away the hotel was. British Airways was allocating hotels to passengers stranded in London owing to the bad weather and all the hotels at Heathrow were full. So my lady passenger had been allocated one of the best hotels in London. I dropped her off and was immediately re-hired by a guy wanting to go to East Dulwich, a journey to South East London of around half an hour. I dropped him to his home and then turned back to the centre. On reaching Kennington Oval, about 10 minutes south of the centre I was hailed by another young man co-incidentally also wanting to get to East Dulwich. About 3 minutes after turning around and heading back the guy tells me he’s found a bag on the back seat beside him. My immediate thought was that it must have been the previous guy’s bag, fortunate indeed as I could immediately try to return it.
I asked my new traveller if the bag was open? It was so would he mind having a peep inside to see if there was anything to identify its owner. He saw a couple of mobile phones and told me the bag was full of nappies (diapers) but the phones had Chinese script. That’s odd I thought but no matter I will check it myself after I drop this young man.
After the drop I looked inside the bag myself. Apart from the aforementioned there was a purse and another small zip pouched bag. Ah clues! Then wow! Inside the zipped pouch there was a large wad of cash!
Inside the lady’s purse there were ID Cards, credit cards and more cash. One of the cards was clearly marked with the logo of The People’s Republic of China. Well that kind of confirmed it. It must belong to the oriental lady whose husband was carrying the baby. Luckily I remembered the address I had dropped at which was a small B&B in Harlington. After a quick search I found a phone number and rang it. “Hi, I’m a taxi driver and……”
“Oh my God you’ve found the bag!” was the interruption. “They’re gonna be so pleased!”
“Well yes so what do I do? Can you wait until I come back out there later? I’m in East Dulwich”.
“Wait I’ll phone them”.
He called back a minute later. “They will pay whatever it costs just bring it straight back please.”
So about an hour later a relieved but beaming Chinese lady was waiting for me on the doorstep. Profuse thanks followed by “how much can I pay”?
“Well just please settle the meter from East Dulwich, If you could have waited I would have brought it back before the morning for free.”
“No it’s Ok and I will pay you more but I only have Euros.”
“Well you have now” I replied.
Back in possession of her belongings she looked so happy as she handed me some of the cash in her bag and asked me to pick them up in the morning.
I agreed and a few hours later the grateful couple were again so full of thanks as we swapped a few selfies and details. I know I’ll hear from them again.
To Be Continued. Episode 2 coming soon!