St. Lawrence River
The smartphone was the newest model and a whole lot nicer than the old, secondhand one I carry. Why would anybody take it apart and strew the pieces up and down my block?
A light rain was falling as I walked home yesterday afternoon. About five minutes from my house I noticed something that hadn't been there when I left two hours prior: a cellphone lying in the grass along the sidewalk.
It was face-down and missing its back cover. Even before I picked it up I could see there was no battery inside, which I recognized was a good thing: it might have a better chance of remaining functional lying out in the rain without a battery inside.
I assumed the face would be cracked: why would anybody toss a functional phone? But, as I grasped it and turned it over I could tell that it was brand-new, a very recent model, and bore no visible damage. I slipped it into my coat pocket.
A couple minutes further down the path to my house I found the battery and a blue protective rubber casing lying next to each other in a neighbor's garden. I looked around for the last piece, the back cover, but it was nowhere to be seen.
I took the three items home and placed them atop the baseboard heater in my room. I searched on-line and found this was the latest, hottest offer from Samsung. When I stepped out again a couple hours later to go swimming at the campus gym I made a point to look around to see if I could find the back cover. I searched slowly along the sidewalk leading to Université Laval. I had nearly given up hope after walking beyond the places where I'd found the other parts of the phone. Finally, I found the back cover lying in the gutter next to the bike lane.
When I got back from my routine swimming laps at PEPS the first three items seemed sufficiently dried out to piece together with the backing I'd found in the road. I snapped everything shut, pressed the power button, and found that I was holding a perfectly functional, very nice smartphone.
There was a password locking the screen so I couldn't use the phone itself to place a call to figure out its number. So, I took the phone back apart, plucked the SIM card out, placed it into my own cellphone, connected my phone to my computer, then copied down the number that appeared when I opened up the software that synchronizes my phone's data. It was a Montréal area code. I called and left a message telling the owner that I'd found his phone.
Yesterday morning the phone rang. I answered:
"Well it's about time you picked up!", a woman's voice came down the line.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I'm not who you're expecting to call. I found this phone and am trying to figure out who the owner is," I said.
"Where did you find it?"
"Québec City! Oh no... he said he was going there. We haven't heard from him for some days now."
"Maybe you don't need to worry," I tried to reassure the caller. "His bag probably got stolen. Whoever took it probably decided to chuck the cellphone out."
"No, no: my friend is schizophrenic. He's a really good guy. But he gets these episodes... "
I took down the address of the woman who called me and promised to mail the phone to her in Montréal the next day.
There were still a few hours before my afternoon appointment: meeting up with Annie at the Musee de la civilisation. We weren't meeting there to visit the exhibitions, but to just hang out somewhere different. I realized the last time I went to the museum that it wasn't neccessary to have a ticket to go to the upper-level cafe overlooking the St. Lawrence River. That would be the perfect place to while away a rainy afternoon over Anagrammes. We'd fixed the museum cafe as our meeting point long beforehand; I dashed off a quick text message asking Annie to bring her cellphone charger to our rendezvous if she hadn't already left home: her phone was the same brand as the one I found.
We sat down around a table overlooking the river. Before plugging the phone into a wall socket I showed Annie the reason I needed to borrow her charger.
"Yes, nice. But, not mine."
I related the mysterious situation. Annie's immediate reaction was far different from mine:
"Shouldn't you call the police?"
"What, to report somebody's missing cellphone? I think it will actually be easier for both of us to get it back to him if I don't call the police."
"No, not for the phone. To file a missing person's report. Somebody who hasn't contacted his friends in however many days, who has a diagnosed history of schizophrenia, and who took apart his cellphone and threw it up and down your block out in your rain? He might need to be located."
"That's true. I hadn't thought of that. But, what kind of missing person's report could I file? 'Officer, I don't know the guy's name but somebody called me on this phone I found saying that the owner is schizophrenic and missing'," I said.
"I think it's better if I call the woman who called me earlier this morning back again, tomorrow. I'll see if there's any news before I send the phone to her address in Montréal, let alone file a missing person's report."
In the time it took to eat a salad (she) to eat a muffin (me) and to play one round of Anagrammes (the two of us, together) the found phone was fully charged. It didn't ring again over the rest of the time I held onto it.
The happy ending came just a couple hours ago. After class today, I called the woman in Montréal back. She said that her friend had been located and was hospitalized here in Québec City. Would I still be willing to send the phone to her address? Of course.
I just came back home from the post office. First-class postage to send a phone from Québec City to Montréal didn't cost all that much.
I feel that I've done my good deed for the day.