Peter Funt: Phone lost, friends found
LOS ANGELES -- If you’re reading this, I’m sorry I didn’t get your name, but I wish to thank you for returning the cellphone I left in your taxi. Moreover, I want to explain how you and several others at LAX provided a refresher course in good nature.
This was a few nights ago. The cab ride to the airport included a lengthy chat with my driver about high gas prices and pollution-lowering additives. It shifted to his concern that many nations ignore environmental issues and are poisoning their own people.
Forty-five minutes later, I was still thinking about the driver’s spot-on views when I realized I had left my phone on the backseat of his cab. I emailed my wife, Amy, asking her to call my number and ask whomever answers to please send it back. She replied that the driver had my phone and volunteered to drive it 20 miles to LAX.
I don’t know if the waitress who served me that night is reading this, but I want her to know that I appreciate her allowing me to rush out, my meal half-eaten, trusting I’d actually return to pay.
I also don’t know if the United Airlines baggage handler outside Terminal 7 will see this, but I’m glad he kept me company for 25 minutes as we waited for the cab—then used his own phone to call mine. He learned that the taxi driver was about 200 yards away, patiently waiting for me at the wrong door.
I have no way of knowing if the TSA officer who screened me that night will read this, but it was gracious of him to let me pass through his checkpoint, even though the barcode on my boarding pass failed to register. He bent the rules, and probably could have gotten in trouble, but he seemed sympathetic to the fact that a second trip through security for the same flight is enough to stress anyone.
I’ll probably never know if the manager at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant near Gate 70 saw this, but I was grateful when he told me that my plate had been taken back to the kitchen to keep the food warm, and that my Bud was right where I left it over a half-hour earlier.
I guess my 14-hour travel day was taking its toll because I then managed to drop my boarding pass while walking to Gate 87. I don’t know if the guy who drives a golf cart in the terminal will read this, but it was remarkable that he managed to pick up my pass and catch me before I had a total meltdown.
Finally in the boarding area, a tall man with a Yankee cap carelessly bashed his rolling suitcase into my knee.
As a severe critic of airports, airlines and the whole post-9/11 travel process, I might have jumped all over this guy. I concede to even rehearsing dialogue for such a confrontation: “Don’t you people ever watch where you’re going? Don’t you know these things can be dangerous? Don’t you think you should have checked a bag that large? Are you angling to get a free gate-check? And do you realize I’ve been up since 4 a.m.?”
Before I could say a word, the man apologized so profusely that I just smiled and urged him not to worry.
But let’s be honest: that didn’t make me a hero. It only allowed me to fit in among the nice people whose paths were crossing at LAX that night.
I still have problems with high taxi fares, the TSA, airlines in general, and careless backpack-toting, suitcase-wheeling passengers. But by and large there is an amazing number of nice folks out there, and I hope some of them are able to smile just a bit by reading this.