There’s something strange about Mountain View, CA. Aside from the fact that Google has headquarters there. Just in the last week, two of us in the office have found electronic gadgets laying about in the open, accessible to the general public. Mountain View is our own island of lost toys.

Whose Android Phone is This?

Last week, I found a phone plugged in and charging near the back stairway of our building. I looked. There was no one about. I figured it might be one of my coworkers. But then a closer inspection showed me the phone was an Android and was quite beaten up and heavily used (my coworkers are mostly on iPhones). Plus, the phone had no security in place. No pin number or even lock pattern. One swipe and it was open. I found an Instagram account and more importantly a Gmail account that proved the owner’s name and email address. I figured: better he pick it up from our office if he wants it back, than to leave it out here in the open where some other person might decide to steal it and use it for nefarious purposes. So I emailed the guy explaining the situation and told him to get in touch with me. He called and explained he’d plugged it and left it behind because he was running after the bus(?) and so had ended up getting a new phone. And so I emailed him the address where he could pick it up. And he passed by for it that same day. Problem solved.

Please Don’t Drop Your MacBook Air Again

Then just this week, my coworker Lacey went out for an afternoon run and found a MacBook Air laptop lying on the ground! She opened it up and saw a company’s name, called the company’s trunk line and asked to speak to someone in IT or in security, explaining the situation. The front office person asked Lacey to call back in the morning (it was past 5PM) at which point Lacey had had enough and lectured the poor girl on corporate security — how this laptop contained company data and company property and that this should be reported properly and handled immediately by the right department. She could’ve just as easily ignored the laptop on the ground and kept running. Why make Lacey jump through hoops just to do the right thing? Anyway, the very next day, the owner of the laptop passed by to pick it up and gave Lacey a bottle of wine as a thank you gesture. Problem solved.

In both situations, we decided to do what we felt was the right thing. Sure, we could’ve left these items where they were — after all, this wasn’t OUR business. And it was someone else’s fault, therefore someone else’s problem. But here’s the thing: if the situations were reversed, wouldn’t you want someone to return your phone or your laptop if you’d left it behind or dropped it? I know I would like that kindness extended to my gadgets should I ever make a similar mistake.

Lionel signature

Other times when I faced a similar situation:

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