Lost and Found [in Town].

Last Sunday, I dropped my phone outside a restaurant in Andersonville. For the record, I’d had one drink. ONE. (We’ll blame the Angostura bitters here, but really, I need my head examined.)
I noted that I had dropped it. I chastised myself for being clumsy.
Then I walked off without it.

Who does that?

I didn’t realize until half an hour later that I hadn’t picked it up, and when I returned to the scene of the crime to retrieve it, my phone was gone.
My Android phone worth hundreds of dollars, swiped off the sidewalk by some stranger, never to be seen again.
There’s a joke in here somewhere about fiscal responsibility and generally being a damn adult. But I was in no mood for jokes.

I locked my bike up when I got home and trudged upstairs, already calculating which would be less expensive and more worth my efforts: cashing in my insurance policy yet again (the first time, I drowned my phone in a toilet… because I’m awesome) or canceling my contract, paying the early-termination fee and running back to my mother’s family plan. Tail. Between. My legs.

MEANWHILE, IN CYBERSPACE…

A lovely, law-abiding man — not some hoodlum with black-market motives — and his wife had found my phone, and they were looking for ways to get it back to me.
Enter Found in Town.

Zach Haller, a friend of mine from Chicago’s amazing tech startup community, had me on board with his universal lost-and-found program almost immediately. Here’s how it works: Users prone to losing things sign up for a set of FiT tags, which come with a unique code and can be affixed to anything and everything that is able to be lost.

When your tags arrive in the mail — branded with the logo of one of FiT’s community partners, who help fund the program — you activate them, attach them to your stuff and wait patiently for the day you can put them to work. (You know, or not, if you’re not like me.)
For me, that day was Sunday.

When I got into my apartment, I had every intention of sending a series of frantic, futile text messages to my phone with the vain hope that I would get a response from whoever had fled the scene with my link to the world.

Instead, I had two e-mails waiting for me. The first: an e-mail from the resourceful man who found my phone, which I love him for, even if it did mean he had to go through my phone to find my contact information. The second: a notification from Found in Town that someone had found my phone. A little redundant at that point, but…holy crap, it worked.
I had my phone back less than two hours after I went braindead and left it on the sidewalk.

Found in Town doesn’t guarantee that your stuff will be returned — if I’d left my now-vaguely-infamous iPad lying on the ground, I don’t expect some good Samaritan would have returned it — but it does make it easier for the stellar human beings among us to do their thing.

I may not be so lucky next time I go full-on bonehead, but I definitely have a little more faith this week in humanity…and technology.

So THANK you, Zach, for having this idea, and thank you to a stranger named Noel for wondering what to do with a silly sticker on the back of a stranger’s phone.

Also: I am including a handy CALL TO ACTION here. Sign up for Found in Town. Spread the word about it. Help an entrepreneur with a fantastic concept take his idea to the next level. Today, Chicago…tomorrow, the world!

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11 Responses to “Lost and Found [in Town].”

  1. Renita Says:

    You want dumb moves? My car is normally unlocked in our garage, but about 10 days ago it was parked on our driveway overnight. Unlocked. With my GPS still out affixed to the windshield.

    I KNOW that leaving valuables out and your car unlocked is the quickest way to get them stolen. I compiled and edited police reports for years. And yet. When I left for work the next morning … no more GPS.

    At least a pleasant stranger found your phone. Some petty criminal probably sold my GPS to a pawn shop.

    (Anyway. The Found in Town thing sounds great. :))

  2. Negative McNegativesonmandude Says:

    Jesus, this personal blog post all about something YOU did??!  How annoying of you.  This is not about me, commenting negatively because I have nothing better to do and hate my life.  Just generally pointing out that you used your PERSONAL blog to write about something about YOU (even though 95% was about this cool new service, but I’m one who focuses on the 5% – because, again, it’s REALLY about me – not you, but whatever).

    GAHHHHHHHHH I’M NEGATIVE COMMENT MAN FULL OF FUNNY IRONY!!!!!!    YOUR BLOG SUCKKKKKKKKKKKKS!

    • paigeworthy Says:

      Oh my God, I love you.

      • Negative McNegativesonmandude Says:

        AGAIN using the word “I.”  Will you stop at NOTHING to talk about you?!

    • Coachalpo Says:

      You’re too much of a simpleton to realize it’s pure self-promotion, with a little ad thrown in.  Look at me!  Look at me!  Look at me!  It’s actually so silly that I wouldn’t doubt it if it were fabricated entirely.  Anyway, angry little troll, I hope you feel better.  Oh, and you’re not funny or witty at all.  Thanks for playing.  You can go on hating yourself now.  I’m done.

  3. Sean D. Francis Says:

    Definitely going to check out Found In Town… My phone may be old but it’s all I got and losing it would make me desperately sad.

  4. Tr Says:

    Longtime reader, first time commenter 🙂  OMG, it continually amazes me the goodness of people.  I lost my phone in a cab (not after one drink, sadly a day full of drinks).  I woke up the next morning in a panic.  You know, the usual: keys, phone, wallet.  Always need to remember if I’m in my apartment, I likely have my keys.  What I was missing was an iPhone.  Some lovely person went through my phone and called everyone in my contact list till she was able to track the right person down.  Nex morning, I had my phone back.  I love good people.  Thanks for sharing info on Found in Town.

    p.s. I’ve lost my phone to two toilets.  Don’t feel bad.

    • paigeworthy Says:

      Your poor drowned phone! Thanks for commenting…and yes, isn’t it a comfort to know that despite the piss and vinegar drowning the world at large, there are still amazing people out there??

  5. Lisa Murtaugh Gangi Says:

    Good news:)

    I tried to sign up for FiT, but it required an affiliation other than “Girl Friday,” so… suggestions?
    P.S. I love your tags.

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