London is a city with over 7.5 million residents and I believe that most of them are good and honest people. This is because during the year I lived there I experienced some extreme good will. People were so kind that my faith in humanity was completely renewed.
In late December 2008 I was rushing to King’s Cross to catch a train to Edinburgh for Hogmanay. I realized I had lost my Oyster card (transit pass) soon after my arrival at King’s Cross. Now, I’m a fairly organized person so when I finally realized my Oyster card wasn’t tucked in my wallet in the place I always keep it I started to panic. I figured that in London someone would have picked it up and used it for free until I could report it missing. Since I had a student Oyster card with my photo on it that I kept in a sleeve along with my Goldsmith’s University student card so my thoughts began churning over identity theft and student scamming, someone coming to my school and taking me for ransom.
When I got back home from my exciting New Year’s Eve up North there was a message on my school e-mail account from the registrars office. Some random person, who did not work for Transport for London, had found my sleeve, noticed that I was a student at Goldsmiths and mailed it to my school. Not only was it a relief to have my property back it but it saved me the trouble of paying five pounds for another Oyster and student card. It was a great way to start 2009, after being punched in the face on New Years Eve (story to come later in Story Time Tuesday).
Then in May 2009 my friend Melissa came to visit from Canada. On her third day in London I had to go to school for a meeting so Melissa was going to spend her day visiting both Tate Museums and exploring the South Bank of the Thames river. We planned to meet up at the Globe Theatre and see Romeo and Juliet that evening. We parted ways by Clapham Common as she was going to get on a bus and I had to take the tube. Twenty minutes later when I emerged from the gallows of the Underground at London Bridge station there was a voicemail on my phone. The Tate membership desk had contacted me because someone had reported finding a wallet with my membership card in it – the membership card that I had given to Melissa to get in to the exhibits for free. My stomach sank as I pictured my friend walking around London without her wallet, upset and probably hungry as she had decided to get breakfast on the way to Tate Britain.
The person from the Tate then gave me the phone number of the woman who had my membership card. I phoned and she confirmed that it was Melissa’s wallet which she had found beside a bus stop blocks from my flat, only minutes after I left her. I then contacted my flatmate who, luckily, was working from home and did me the favor of picking up Melissa’s wallet from this kind wallet finder. After my school meeting I got Melissa’s wallet in a mad exchange with my flatmate at Clapham Junction. Unfortunately Melissa had no way of contacting me as cellphones do not accept collect calls, so she had contacted her mother in Canada who phoned me and assured me that Melissa was alright and would meet me at 6 p.m. at The Globe.
When I got to the theatre I saw Melissa sitting on the steps looking gloomy and exhausted. Then I pulled out her wallet and tears of relief ran down her face. Her R and J ticket, all her money and her cards were still inside her wallet.
As if I didn’t need any more proof that Londoners were kind and honest people, in December 2009 I had my graduation and final reading at Goldsmith’s University in New Cross aka ‘dodgy South East London’. As there was free wine at the reading and lots to celebrate I partied like a Brit and got completely smashed. The next morning I wasn’t even aware that I’d lost anything until I logged on to Facebook where I saw this message from a stranger:
Hey listen, I think I have got your lost purse. Let me know if you lost it and we can arrange delivery.
It is green, I found it in a dodgy cab.
I then looked around and realized that indeed my wallet (they call it a purse in the UK) was missing. I was rushed with panic and messaged Rupert back to call my mobile number. That evening at 7 p.m., less than 24 hours after losing my wallet with 150 pounds, my credit card, my driving license, my SIN and National Employment Number cards and more were returned to me by a young bloke who refused to let me buy him a drink to thank him. “I did nothing,” he told me.
Losing one thing and getting it back could be considered lucky, but three in one year? That’s proof enough for me that London is a good and honest place; a city where people go out of their way to reacquaint strangers with their lost property. However, I am learning to be more careful with my wallet when I travel.