How to Return a Woman’s Wallet: 2014 Edition

TL;DR – Comment on her Instagram photo

After a few days of being cooped up in a hospital awaiting the birth of my second daughter I decided to go for a walk to the local Barnes & Nobles. As I approached Boston’s Fenway Park I noticed a woman’s wallet on the ground. This was clearly a full wallet and not a piece of trash that had previously duped many homeless people so I picked it up. On a busy city street a full wallet will not last long so I knew the owner was in sight. I quickly sifted through the contents looking for a license or photo ID that matched a concerned pedestrian. There was no photo ID.

When it comes to finding a random wallet on the street there are 3 types of people; those that would steal the entire contents, those that would steal the cash and attempt to return the other contents, and those that would take it upon themselves to return the contents in their entirety. I put myself in the latter category for several reasons, but my thought at the time was that karma would return the favor and make the hospital stay go smoothly if I did a good deed. For those that are now rolling their eyes and thinking this isn’t the true definition of karma, I say there are more pressing things to worry about, such as returning a poor woman’s wallet.

Since there was no photo ID the urgency of the situation was reduced from seconds to minutes. It was time to search for clues. There were credit cards, a social security card and a Sephora card to give me her full name. There was a health insurance card to give me her date of birth; she was an 18-year-old college student. There was cash, $120, and a collection of soda tabs. Finally, a pen with the name of a local college laboratory.

The name alone was unique enough to find her on Facebook so I sent her a simple message; “Did you lose your wallet near Fenway?” I expected a response within minutes. I imagined any 18-year-old to be wandering around the streets with the phone in one hand and a latte in another, walking blindly into cars, children and street signs. I heard nothing back from her during the course of my outing.

When I returned to my laptop I did some additional research. It was here that I learned about Facebook’s “other” folder. I expected my message to flash on her phone or appear in the conversation section on her Facebook page. Instead it went to a folder I’ve never heard of or checked before, so I didn’t expect her to proactively check it while I was awaiting her gratefulness towards my good deeds.

Facebook did give me the option of paying $1USD to have my message appear to her. The cynic in me scoffs at Facebook posts suggesting the site will start charging for basic  and existing services, but this was one I saw with my own eyes. It did cross my mind to pay the $1 and take it out of her funds but I wanted to at least attempt finding her for free.

I friended her but she rejected a stranger’s friendship as I would likely have done myself. I turned to Google to stalk her with good intent. There was little information about her publicly, but I did find her instagram account. It was your average college-aged girl’s Instagram account with mirror selfies and pics of food and finger nails. The only things missing were thigh-gaps, Starbucks cups and all the Pokemon she’s caught (full disclosure I don’t have any college age girls in my Instagram feed so these are assumptions).

I commented on her most recent photo which was a picture of 2 hands doing the cheers motion with 2 bars of chocolate. I simply said “did you lose your wallet”? I figured that by this time she must have realized that her wallet was missing and Instagram didn’t expect any US currency from me to comment on a stranger’s photo. So in the course of the next few hours she friended me on Facebook and we were able to chat free-of-charge. We quickly set up a time to meet in the lobby and the wallet was returned the morning after it was lost.

Not the chocolate photo in question.

I didn’t expect anything in return, though it was in the back of my mind. Should she have given me one of the $20s in her wallet? Maybe sent flowers to our hospital room as she now had my full information? The answer (and outcome) was of course no, that wasn’t the point. It ultimately served as an interesting distraction and an overall enjoyable detective hunt.



Nan Ling – In Memoriam

College is the time when vices are not only socially acceptable, but encouraged.  Binge drinking, promiscuity, drugs; all fine as long as the vice fades after graduation. But I didn’t do any of that. My vice was sketchy Chinese food. I grew out of it, but will always have a taste for it.

Flash back to fall of 1998. Berklee College of Music, known internationally for jazz and contemporary music instruction and less so for fine dining. While on the meal plan I would eat the ‘free’ meals daily without a complaint but would supplement this meal plan with my solo expeditions around Mass Ave in Boston after 9PM. More often than not I ended up at Nan Ling.

When one has a craving for McDonalds the only thing that would satisfy is McDonalds. It tastes kind of like a hamburger, but more than anything else, it tastes like McDonalds. If McDonalds was to try and make a stand-alone respectable hamburger it would fail, even if the hamburger was cooked at Bennigan’s and shipped hourly. The same can be said for Chinese food. When one walks into a mall, through China Town, or a hole-in-the-wall, there’s a certain expectation of cuisine based on the Chinese Food tier I just made up in order of culinary respect and quality.

  1. Mall Chinese Food
  2. Sketchy Chinese Food
  3. Regular/Family American Chinese Food
  4. China Town Chinese Food
  5. Restaurants in China serving traditional cuisine

Nan Ling found a comfortable home in tier 2. Clearly not in a mall so it had little risk of falling down to tier 1 and considering the rude staff and homeless clientele, there was a slim chance of a family arriving to bring it up a tier.

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Progressive Nation at Sea 2014: A Passenger’s Log

Anyone: “So where are you going again?”
Me: “A progressive rock cruise”
Anyone: “What’s progressive rock?”
Me: “Just a type of music I like”
Anyone: “Would I know any of the bands on the cruise?”
Me: “Do you know the band Yes?”
Anyone: “No”
Me: “Well, the lead singer of that band will be there”
Anyone: “O”

The idea of a cruise has never interested me and the Progressive Nation at Sea cruise was my first. I don’t relax well with nothing to do and prefer to stay busy on vacation. The idea of unlimited food, pools, beaches, casinos, alcohol and other amenities sounds nice as activities to do during down time from things I actually would go out and want to do myself. My first impression was that the cruise was a floating casino. Even without the actual (small) casino I’d feel this way. The carpets were colorful with wacky designs. Everything smelled like smoke, chlorine and other cleaning products. There was an emphasis on food and high-end shopping and a de-emphasis on knowing what time it was. It was littered with an international cavalry of staff and if I saw the same staffer twice I was otherwise unaware.

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Post Brunch — A One Act Play

(Sophia Junior, age 25, and her grandfather enter a trendy restaurant at 10AM on a Saturday morning. The year is 2065. Grandpa has ordered a baked-stuffed lobster and Sophia Junior [SJ] has ordered scrambled eggs with a side of chicken wings and cole slaw. They have just been served.)

Sophia Junior: That looks good Grandpa.

Grandpa: It does. Did you know that when I was your age you couldn’t order this meal at a restaurant, especially at 10 in the morning? Prior to the food riots of 2020 society in general was uncomfortable with certain food combinations at certain times.

SJ: Gramma mentioned this at breakfast yesterday when she was heating up our breakfast pizza. She mentioned that in her day it was only acceptable to eat cold pizza for breakfast. I didn’t really follow.

Grandpa: Society was slow to warm up to the idea of pizza for breakfast. By the 1980s it was acceptable to have cold pizza for breakfast and brunch moved the movement forward.

SJ: Brunch? A combination of brains and lunch? (giggles)

Grandpa: Hah, no, it was a combination of breakfast and lunch. My uncle and his husband loved it when I was a kid, but by the time I was your age it had grown in popularity tremendously.

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Jason McGorty