EXPATS AGAIN! Experiencing other cultures while enriching our global view.



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Munich, Germany
I am married to the love of my life and am finally able to shower him with all of the attention he deserves. I am now retired and living the life here in Europe. I am an American, he is an Australian, and this is our second overseas address. The first was Shanghai, China and now Munich, Germany. Come along and live the life with us as we continue our adventure of discovering all Europe has to offer.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Monday, after my bridge group completed our bridge marathon (four and a half hours !) at Oberpolinger's restaurant in Munich, I noticed a cell phone on the floor under a table.  I picked it up and noticed it was an LG phone and that it was turned on.  Under normal circumstances, I would have handed the phone to the restaurant management in the hopes that the owner would return looking for his phone and they could easily return it to him. 

But that is not what I did.

Image from LG 

You see, about eight months ago, I either lost my i-phone or it was stolen at the Detroit Express airport.  I really can't say which since I never noticed it was missing until we loaded the luggage into the car, and it was not with me.  I do recall having it in customs when we arrived from Germany, however.  So I know it was with me that far.

I made a police report with both the Wayne County police and the airport security. 

It was a traumatic experience for me.  All of my contacts were stored in that phone and a I recognized early on that a significant amount of work lay ahead of me in terms of reestablishing my contacts lifelines. I had stored important links, yes even passwords, in my i-phone; something I vowed right then and there to never do again, 

To add to my consternation, was the fact that I would have to wait eight more months for my T-Mobile contract to expire until I could again purchase another i-phone in Germany without having to pay for two contracts. 

The whole experience was emotional and I felt a physical loss as if an appendage, such as an arm or leg, was missing from my body.  The connection to my phone's ability to have instant email access had created an almost addictive need in my consciousness.  This desire to reach for my phone didn't just last days or weeks.  No, I was truly dependent and even months later longed for it, in spite of the fact that I had purchased a moderately priced replacement cell phone piece of crap (that I hated with a passion). I won't mention the brand for fear they will sue me for defamation (just kidding) or in the case that you may have the exact phone and leave hate mail in my comment box for dissing your favorite phone.  

So, I gathered up the necessary language skills--hardly....(remember, I haven't begun my German lessons yet) and politely asked the clerk at the register if any of them spoke English.  Fortunately one poor soul admitted to the crime.  I wrote my cell phone number to my just recently purchased NEW GENERATION i-phone down on a paper napkin and told him that if anyone came looking for a missing item to have them call me. 

Feeling good about my wise choice to return the lost item to its' rightful owner, I boarded the train for home while scanning the phone's telephone contacts and favorites.  Perhaps, I thought, I could call someone who would recognize the owners' name on the caller i.d. and direct me as to how to reach the owner. 

As luck would have it, the first person I called was the phone's owner!  Hurray, I thought!

But my joy was very short-lived when I heard him speak Japanese.  Somehow though, we were able to communicate with his limited English and my non-existent Japanese.  I asked him how he wanted to retrieve his phone.  He asked where I was, and I told him I had already returned to my train exit near my home and if he wished to have the cell phone in his possession, he should come immediately to my train station.  I would wait for him there.  He said he would leave and meet me in 15 minutes.

Monday evening, the weather hovered around 44 F and sadly, I did not dress to stand at an outside train station waiting for someone I didn't know, in a car I had never seen,  to pick up a phone,  that was not mine. 

But I waited....

....And I waited..... 

Until I wondered if this person, who spoke Japanese,  really understood my English.  Fifteen minutes turned into thirty and then stretched into another forty-five minutes.  "Where was this person?  Did he really even know how to get to my train station?  How would he recognize me?" I thought.

It is Oktoberfest this week in Munich and there are millions of extra bodies scurrying like rats up and down the S-Bahn waiting for trains.  "How in the world would I find this person," I asked myself?  So, I called him back and he frantically answered and said the traffic was just terrible and would I wait another 10 minutes.

I think you know that the ten minutes came and went.  But, miraculously, he did show up, running madly through the train station with a cell phone up to his ear.  I was waving excitedly at him and when I answered his call, I asked him to turn around and look for the crazy woman waving her arms wildly about.  

He did.  

I gave him the phone and he said to me, "Vieilen dank," in German, or "Many thanks."  

And you know what happened next?.....the cold magically disappeared.


C said...

That was incredibly lovely of you! You know, in Germany, if you lose your phone and someone uses it to make calls, you still have to pay their bill. This man really lucked out having you find it and not someone else. What a great thing you did.

swenglishexpat said...

You did the right thang. What a story! Both clever and lucky. I had my PDA stolen out of my jacket pocket in a cafe in Cologne a couple of years ago. Since I wasn't sure it had been turned off and password-secured, I had to change all my trillion passwords, usernames etc. I know what you went through!