I’m not mentioning any names, but one of my family members got out of a taxi last night on our street and left behind his backpack, with his laptop inside. Zaogao! Disaster!
Did he have the cab’s receipt? (One visiting friend last year left the tennis racquet she had bought at the fake market in a taxi, handed the taxi receipt to the hotel concierge, and had the lost racquet back in a couple of hours.) No, the receipt machine in last night’s taxi was broken.
What company was the taxi? Dunno, but red in color. It turns out that there are over 100 companies in Shanghai with red — independent — cars.
There’s nothing you can do, my family member said.
But I can’t stand to leave something like this alone. This morning, I got help in drafting a sign offering a reward and went outside the lane to the place where the unlucky person had gotten out of the car. A small crowd of construction workers and a security guard gathered, curious as to what I was taping on the wall, just in case a super-conscientious driver returned to the scene. Oh, lost your computer, they read and crooned sympathetically. I can’t imagine that any of them has ever come near a computer.
I asked Driver Ou Yang to take me to the police station. He said that would be useless, but immediately swung into action with good ideas. After all, he is a driver. “You’ve got to get it onto this station before lunch, he said, turning the radio dial. That’s where they announce all the lost stuff, and the drivers will be listening while they eat. This afternoon, they won’t be paying any attention. But after he called and learned that it costs 600 RMB to run an ad 4 times, he changed his mind.
I had Ou Yang drive me to the police station anyway. There a polite officer with a cigarette dripping ash asked me the expected questions. What company, what color car, where did he get in, where did he get out. What are you going to do? He shook his head.
Back in the car, Ou Yang shook his head, too. Useless, he snorted with respect to the police. He insisted that we place an ad with the Xinmin Evening News, which I gather is a sort of taxicab newspaper, widely read. The ad will run tomorrow.
Then he suggested that I go onto the internet and place an ad there for other people to read. Not a bad idea from someone who admits he’s never touched a computer, but where on the internet? One Chinese friend said to read the offerings on Chinese eBay to see whether your computer turns up there.
Ou Yang gets frustrated when we’re so inept, doing such obviously idiotic things as taking taxis, especially the red ones. For two days, you’ve lost gloves (it’s true — I’m down 1 1/2 pairs since Monday) and now this, he muttered as I walked away.
But I haven’t given up yet. Here in China, we’ve had waiters chase us down the street to return items we’ve left in restaurants, hotel maids bring items to the lobby. If a Shanghainese cabbie can find the owner of a lost computer, I think he would try to return it. Anyone taking a bet on whether we hit the jackpot?