On my first day reporting from Tucson after the shooting, I found a digital recorder on a bench outside University Medical Center. It looked pretty expensive. So, I walked around from reporter to reporter, asking people "is this yours?" Nobody claimed it. And there was only so long I was going to do that. I ended up using it a few times while I was in Tucson when I was in a jam and really wanted to make sure I quoted someone accurately i.e. the Giffords intern who helped her when she first got shot.
The following week, I showed it back in the office to a fellow editorial assistant, Michelle. She was very intrigued and asked if she could play it sometime to try and figure out who it belonged to. Feeling guilty that I hadn't gotten around to it myself and knowing I'd have bad karma if I kept it, I said "sure." A couple days later, Michelle even brought a USB cord to hook up the recorder to the computer to listen during her evening shift. The next morning when I checked my work e-mail and there was a message from her. She had done some amazing investigative work. After hearing a British voice on the recorder conducting interviews from two completely opposite locations--Afghanistan and Tucson--she started researching international-caliber news organizations online. She deduced that the recorder had to belong to this guy:
For some reason, Reuters lists NO phone numbers on its news site. So, I wrote an e-mail guessing what his work e-mail address would be. And I got a reply back with his contact information in the e-mail signature. So I quickly called him and explained how I found his recorder. I apologized profusely for not trying earlier to see if I could figure out who the owner was. Fortunately, he was perfectly nice and appreciative, not miffed at all. Anyway, we ended up meeting for coffee last week.
Is that considered getting together with the enemy? Kidding. If anything, I'm giving my company a good name. A company where people are competitive but also have integrity.
Tim and I chatted for about an hour at Giant Coffee, a new hipster coffee place. It was great as it turns out we both have an affinity for a lot of the same places. He has a studio apartment in Phoenix but is mainly based out of Bisbee, which is way down in southern Arizona. He rented a house in Bisbee for three years from another reporter who by coincidence was the one to show me around my first time visiting there. I asked him where in England was he from and he said he grew up in the town of Bath. I was like "WHAT?!" The Jane Austen nut in me came out. I think he was surprised that I've actually been to Bath. I went on about how beautiful the town was and how I had tea at the Pump Room. He said he went to school in an old Georgian building where an old man would come every day to feed coal to the stove that kept the room warm. Talk about Dickensian. Then Tim really had me when he said he owns an apartment in Madrid. If there's one thing people should know about me, it's that I have a special place in my heart for Spain. I spent more than a month there taking a Spanish course for fun and I've been wanting to get back there since. Although Tim said to tell him if I'm ever in Bisbee, I said I'm more likely to tell him if I'm ever in Madrid. We had a great chat and he said I could e-mail him any time about all things journalism or even Jane Austen, hehe.
The people I have told about this all say the same thing: "You have got to stop picking up things that aren't yours." LOL. Actually one friend said I should have my own reality show, "The Finder." Between this and helping the family down the street return a lost camera, I'm feeling like I should look into being a private investigator. One of the reasons I do like being a reporter is that it feeds the part of me that likes hunting things down. Now when am I going to accidentally find someone's chest of money...preferably in unmarked bills.