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Things We Lost at the Airport - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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October 17th, 2009


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12:06 am - Things We Lost at the Airport
My flight is at 2:35, but SuperShuttle gets me to SFO closer to 1. I reach my gate and take a seat near an outlet so I can plug in my laptop.

Next to me is a seat empty but for a book. I wait for its owner to return.

Time passes, and the book remains in the seat. Finally, I become curious. The book is People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author according to the cover. I read the blurb, and it looks interesting. There is a leaf a little over half of the way through, marking the owner's place.

The Borders sticker is still on the back, implying the person just bought it.

On the inside of the front cover is a woman's name and number. This could be an artifact of a used book purchase, but the Borders sticker argues against that theory. I call the number; maybe the woman is in the airport and will come back. I reach a machine. I don't leave a message, as I am yet unsure what I am going to do.

Maybe it was abandoned on purpose. Hey, free book. But there is a leaf! A leaf! She did not even finish reading.

I Google the area code. The number hails from...St. Louis. Oh, balls.

The flight before mine was going to St. Louis. She totally forgot her book here.

I Google her name and St. Louis and hit upon what appears to be her Facebook page. The profile picture is of an elderly couple. I could send her a Facebook message, but I have her phone number anyway. If this is indeed her book and she did indeed forget it.

I want to confirm for sure, not wanting to take the book in case the owner came back after a very long bathroom break. But the woman at the counter, as I expect, is not allowed to tell me whether a particular passenger was on that flight.

I see a woman appear to examine the empty seat where the book lay and then turn around, and I don't remember exactly what the woman on Facebook looked like. Maybe that's her? I ask her if it's her book and it isn't. Okay, back to the original plan.

I call the number to leave a message, but this time the phone keeps ringing! Maybe the line is busy? But they weren't home just a few minutes before. They are on a plane!

I wait a few minutes and try again, and this time a man picks up. I ask him if this is the residence of The Woman. Yes, he is a man with her last name. I ask him if his wife is flying from San Francisco to St. Louis today. Yes, from California to St. Louis. I tell him I found a book with her name and number in it. She forgot it at the gate. Oh no, he says, she'll probably be looking all over the plane for it. I tell him I'd be happy to mail it. He asks if the address is in there, and it is not, so he gives it to me. He says it's very nice of me, and I tell him that I am a book lover as well, and if I lost a book, I would be freaking out. Besides, she hasn't even finished it yet.

I wonder what would have happened if someone else had found it.
Current Mood: fullfull
Current Music: Björk - It's Oh So Quiet [in my head]

(45 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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From:valancy
Date:October 17th, 2009 05:21 am (UTC)
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Cutest thing ever. :)
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From:spectralbovine
Date:October 17th, 2009 06:12 am (UTC)
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I will strive for cuter.
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From:rowanceleste
Date:October 17th, 2009 05:54 am (UTC)
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Yay for her being able to get her book back!That's a win on her part for putting her name and number in her book and you for finding it and taking the effort to follow up, rather than just giving it to the gate agent who would toss it in a pile of lost things.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:October 17th, 2009 06:09 am (UTC)
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Yeah, I thought that the sensible and proper thing to do would be to give it to the gate agent, but...yeah, I didn't trust the airport to actually send the book. And if they did, it would take them six to eight weeks or whatever.
(Deleted comment)
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From:serrico
Date:October 17th, 2009 05:58 am (UTC)
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This post made me smile. Thank you for that. :)
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From:spectralbovine
Date:October 17th, 2009 06:09 am (UTC)
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You're quite welcome.
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From:girltype
Date:October 17th, 2009 06:09 am (UTC)
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that is awesome. no really, it is. thank you, as a book lover i would have done the same.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:October 17th, 2009 06:12 am (UTC)
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We book lovers have to look out for each other.

I like that she was using a leaf as a bookmark.
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From:lynevere
Date:October 19th, 2009 01:49 pm (UTC)
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Oh, that was an actual leaf? I thought I was missing out on the hip lingo the kids use. That's great you got the book back to her, but fwiw I wouldn't have assumed she hadn't finished it. Whenever I finish a book, I immediately stuff my bookmark back in a random page for safe keeping.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:October 19th, 2009 02:57 pm (UTC)
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It wasn't random, though. It was right before one of the sections, a natural stopping point.

I put my bookmark in the front.
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From:ashfae
Date:October 17th, 2009 11:55 am (UTC)
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Yay for you!
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From:lembeau
Date:October 17th, 2009 11:58 am (UTC)
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Honestly, I think I might have read it first and then called the number. :OP
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From:spectralbovine
Date:October 17th, 2009 02:44 pm (UTC)
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I considered that.
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From:skogkatt
Date:October 17th, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC)
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Yay for returning lost books! I'm glad you were the one who found it.
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From:mad_madrasi
Date:October 17th, 2009 04:13 pm (UTC)
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That's such an awesome story. I wish more people would take the effort to do things like that. :)
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From:prophetkristy
Date:October 17th, 2009 06:28 pm (UTC)
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You are a very good person.
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From:schnappycat
Date:October 17th, 2009 06:39 pm (UTC)
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Aw, that's awesome. :)
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From:tigeremme
Date:October 17th, 2009 08:30 pm (UTC)
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I'm superemotional right now for several reasons, but maybe I'd be having this reaction anyway: *teary-eyed* I'm so glad you're you. Permanently-lost things are a (small, but earnest) tragedy.
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From:rachelmanija
Date:October 17th, 2009 10:10 pm (UTC)
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Awww! I once left a book on a plane, three-quarters of the way through, and failed to find out what happened for five years because I had forgotten the author and title and it was before the internet. Eventually I got online and posted, "It was post-apocalyptic and it was about a boy and a unicorn and there were duels with swords and a griffin ate his girlfriend."

Instantly, about twelve people wrote, "Ariel, by Steven Boyett!"

And I found a copy and read it and was satisfied. It's not exactly a good novel, but it's memorably weird. The climactic action scene involves hang-gliding from the Empire State Building and also death by office chair... and I see while looking it up on Amazon that it has been reprinted with some rewrites, and hey! Sequel!
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From:spectralbovine
Date:October 18th, 2009 12:49 am (UTC)
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Ha! I like books with history. I constantly fear leaving a book on a plane.
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From:ahtrap
Date:October 17th, 2009 10:16 pm (UTC)

I probably would have left it there

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Because I most likely wouldn't have a laptop at the airport, seeing as how I don't have a laptop. And so I would have been unlikely to google and find out where the woman lives and then make the connection that the prior flight leaving from that gate was heading in that very direction. Would I have called the number inside the book? Possibly. Probably....not. Would I have taken the book for myself? Again, probably not. But I'm not going to guarantee that. It is highly unlikely.

And if I was the man at the other end of the phone call, I would have thought you were some weird stalker.

Still a great story.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:October 18th, 2009 12:52 am (UTC)

Re: I probably would have left it there

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I don't have a laptop either, but luckily I had a company laptop for this trip. The ability to Google definitely helped, although I think I probably would have taken it anyway because of Occam's Razor: there was no good reason for that book to lie there for over an hour if the person was on my flight. And I would have liked to have the free book with a good story behind it if I never got a hold of the owner.

The man on the other end of the phone was a really good sport, thankfully.
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From:barenakedjanie
Date:October 17th, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC)
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Your investigative skills would make Veronica Mars proud.
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From:thetheatremouse
Date:October 18th, 2009 12:58 am (UTC)
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This is one of the many reasons I love you.
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From:sterope
Date:October 18th, 2009 04:25 am (UTC)
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This story makes me think of those online sorting hat quizzes, and you chose the Gryffindor option. That was a very nice thing of you to do.
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From:imwalde
Date:October 18th, 2009 06:38 am (UTC)
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Yay for random acts of kindness! You are brave! I would never have been bold enough to call. I might have texted, but not actually called.

I have a sort of similar story, but I did less investigative work than you. So over the summer, I bought a dvd player off of craigslist. Neither I nor the seller wanted to give away too much info about ourselves; we ended up meeting for the sale in a Costco parking lot during the day. I was living in a reasonably nice hotel at the time, and it had a dvd player, so I didn't use it right away. Cut to a month or so later, when I check into the waaaaaay less nice hotel where I am still living (sigh) while waiting to close on my condo. It doesn't have a dvd player, so for the first time I plug in the dvd player and set it up, only to discover that he left a dvd inside.

So I retrieve his number and text him, and he thanks me profusely and tells me he's been looking everywhere for it. I tell him he can come pick it up, but he doesn't seem inclined to want to drive the 20 minutes (last time, I drove to him, but I was the more motivated party) and I am not going to drive to him. I offer to mail it, so after thanking me profusely some more, he ends up giving me his name and address after all. And when I tell him he doesn't have to worry about paying me back for the postage (would be too much hassle for $3 or whatever), he is even more effusive with his thanks.

But the part that makes me laugh, that so much gratitude could come of me returning it, that getting it back was important enough to overcome his natural caution about giving out his name and address to random strangers who found his ad on craiglist, is that the dvd inspiring all of this? The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Heeeeee. I've never seen it, but I have to be honest -- I almost watched it before I mailed it back to him just to see what all the fuss was about!
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From:spectralbovine
Date:October 18th, 2009 04:20 pm (UTC)
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Hee! It's actually not that bad a movie. Better than the second one. That's a fun story.
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From:finniscs
Date:October 18th, 2009 03:09 pm (UTC)
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I love you Sunil and I don't even know you. :-) You are a good man.
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From:the_narration
Date:October 18th, 2009 03:47 pm (UTC)
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A very noble act, good sir!

I would probably have left it alone, as I try not to go around touching other people's stuff. It would have been awkward (and knowing my luck, bizarrely likely) had the owner happened to come back right as I was picking it up.

After a while, I suppose I would have decided it was abandoned and taken it to lost and found, although if I noticed the name and phone number inside I would have called. No answer means that I leave a message telling them where I found it and that I'm taking it to the lost and found.

I've found quite a few lost items over the years, what with my job and all, including a passport once. I'm in the habit of getting things into the lost and found promptly, lest they disappear while in my position and I come under suspicion.
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From:upanashad
Date:October 18th, 2009 07:15 pm (UTC)
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Hey, I'm just about to read that book! My neighbour said it's really good.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:October 18th, 2009 11:05 pm (UTC)
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Cool! It looked good.
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From:soundingsea
Date:October 19th, 2009 01:49 am (UTC)
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That's so sweet of you. :)
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From:cosmicviolet
Date:October 19th, 2009 04:46 am (UTC)
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You're such a good person. :) I found an ipod on the beach and totally kept it, lol. (Well, I did check to see if I could track down the owner first, but I couldn't.)
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From:dear_diamond
Date:October 20th, 2009 07:19 am (UTC)
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you gave me a positive mood by this post. i've just found it here! thank you and have a nice day!
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From:jenepel
Date:October 20th, 2009 11:23 am (UTC)
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Aw, I <3 this whole story - it brightened my day. Also, if you get a chance you should definitely read that book. I read it a month or so ago and it's really good. It has a very cool historiography thing going on where she traces the history of the book back using small clues in its makeup, and then there are flashback chapters that show you what happened to leave those various marks on it. Also a very interesting religious thread running through it since the book touched people of so many religions, and each era it existed you can see different types of persecution or power, depending on what was in vogue.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:October 20th, 2009 03:20 pm (UTC)
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Neat!
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From:hugecerealbox
Date:October 27th, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC)
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Hey, you don't know me but I stumbled onto your journal during the Veronica Mars days and I ended up lurking every once in awhile just to read up on any movies/shows/books you recommend. Anyhow, I thought maybe it was time to stop lurking and wondered if it would be cool to friend you?

I would have done so a long time ago, but it looked like you were pretty popular already and probably didn't want more people friending. Also I was shy;)

By the way, this entry is very sweet, and I would be freaking if I left my airplane book behind as well!
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From:spectralbovine
Date:October 27th, 2009 06:03 pm (UTC)
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Hi! It is perfectly cool to friend me. I like when lurkers delurk. There's room enough for everyone in here!
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From:behindpyramids
Date:October 28th, 2009 02:16 am (UTC)
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You are the best.
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From:pica_scribit
Date:June 13th, 2012 07:44 pm (UTC)
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Why couldn't someone like you have found my autographed copy of "A Storm of Swords" that my ex managed to leave on a plane? But I'm not bitter....
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From:spectralbovine
Date:June 13th, 2012 07:52 pm (UTC)
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Oh nooooo.

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