I have a lot of other blog posts waiting in the pipeline of my brain, but today I really needed to get this one out there.
So on Sunday afternoon, a gorgeous day, I got on Bus 20 and headed out to one of the nicest beaches on the island. On the way there (it’s about an hour ride from where I live) I took my phone out to check a message, and somehow neglected to return it to my over-stuffed beach bag. (Towels take up a lot of space, okay.)
I only discovered its loss when I was already supine on the sand, soaking up the sun. I dug in my bag, hunting more and more frantically, but to no avail. No smooth warm surface found its way to my palm. Tear!
Of course your first thought is to phone it, and I had a friend there who offered to, but of course this is Korea, and no one speaks English. And I’ve just learnt how to say “I am a student” in Korean class which would not have been at all helpful in this situation.
But, again, this is Korea, and so I was not worried at all. No, seriously. I knew it had in all likelihood been handed to the bus driver and all I would have to do is ask my co-teacher to phone the bus terminal to find out if it was there, and then I could trot along and pick it up.
It turned out that a high school girl had picked it up, and managed to send a text (remember, the OS of my phone is in English, not Korean!) to a friend of mine saying “in bus picked up phone”. This friend (thanks Jessie!) got hold of my island BFF who told me that someone had my phone and wanted to return it.
After a series of hurdles (like me not seeing my co-teacher on Monday, and her not receiving my email asking for help) the situation was finally resolved and two days after stupidly leaving it on that bus seat, I got my phone back. My co-teacher and I wanted to offer this girl a beverage or chocolate or something but she politely declined all offers: think she was more relieved to be rid of this foreigner’s phone than anything ;)
Now, I am the last person to bad-mouth my beloved country, but really, this would NEVER happen in SA. Okay, maybe “hardly ever”. Granted, I would not have been on the bus in the first place, and you are far more likely to have your phone stolen than to lose it, but the point remains. If I had lost this phone in a public loo in SA (likely scenario. Am sure this has happened to people I know), do you think it would be handed in? Or would the person who found it make every effort to contact the owner? For that matter, what would happen in the US, or Britain? (Genuinely curious now.)
Anyway, I’m getting off my original point which was to say: I lost my phone on a bus and miraculously got it back.
Thank you Jessie and Sylvia for handling the texts with the high schooler, and thank you 지연 for arranging the pick-up and going with me… and other teacher whose name I don’t remember for driving us there.
Most of all, thank you anonymous Korean high school girl for your honesty and willingness to help a stranger get her phone back. I don’t even know your name and you will never read this but seriously, thank you.
PS. Sorry about the 6:35am alarm.
PPS. High school teachers, you could totally make a series of lessons around this! “How to deal with foreigners in Korea. Unit 1: You find a foreigner’s phone. How do you get it back to them?” Seriously! I have loads of ideas! Email me!