How I Lost Everything in a NY Cab, And Regained More Than I Left Behind

by Chris Kenton on January 23, 2009

cabI don’t know about you, but I have a mental ledger of the dumbest things I’ve ever done. It’s been under a layer of dust after I somehow survived my twenties: evading arrest on a motorcycle; walking into Kingston’s Trenchtown alone, white, and carrying a camera; stashing my emergency cash in the sole of my shoe, only to learn on the outskirts of Marrakesh that a few months of humidity and abrasion under foot will wipe the ink clean off the faces of twenties and hundreds, leaving them worthless.

Well, last week I had to dig up the ledger and add a new line. I left my backpack in a New York taxi. It was late, I was tired and in a rush, so when the cab pulled up to my hotel, I paid in cash and didn’t wait for a receipt. By the time I realized what had happened, the cab and my backpack were long gone. In horror, I inventoried everything that was lost. A laptop, a camera, a digital recorder. Costly but replaceable. The real losses could never be recovered. The pictures of our family Christmas that I hadn’t had time to download. A journal with years of writing, including poetry I wrote about watching my father die. A 1908 translation of the Bhagavad Gita that I treasured for its amazing lyricism. And of course, countless hours of work in the form of business documents and presentations created since my last backup.

I won’t belabor the anguish or self-loathing. Suffice to say I don’t need much help beating myself up, especially for something monumentally stupid. The real story is how I got everything back. Miracles happen.

The first mistake I made was assuming that I would never do something so idiotic. When my backup software started bugging out a few months ago, it wasn’t a top priority to get it fixed. I remember thinking before this trip that I should back everything up, but I was in too much of a rush setting up meetings and writing presentations. It’s amazing how much of the essentials of our lives we carry around with no safety net. If you travel with a laptop, backup should always be a top priority. In fact, my strategy now is to turn my laptop into a thin client, and avoid storing any permanent files on it.

The second mistake I made was failing to put a blindingly obvious tag on my pack with my contact information, including my contact while in New York. I had a big stack of business cards in the outside pocket, but they weren’t obvious, so they were useless. Tag your bag. Label your laptop. Put your name on anything you want back.

The third mistake I made was failing to get a receipt. A taxi receipt in New York carries important information, like the taxi medallion number, that will help you track down the taxi and driver if needed. If I had a dollar for all the people I called along the journey of tracking my stuff down who said “What? You don’t have a medallion number? [You poor fool!] I can’t help you.”

Okay, so I’ve lost a pack with thousands of dollars of electronics in a cab in New York, with no receipt, no cab number, no nothing. What are the odds of getting it back? Where do you even start? It took me a week to figure it out, but I’ll cut to the chase and tell you what to do if this happens to you.

  1. Immediately write down everything you can remember about your cab ride. It’s crucial to figure out exactly where you were picked up, where you were dropped off, the pick-up and drop-off times, and the amount of the fare with tip. Any other details are good, but you need times and locations within a block or two and a 10-minute window.
  2. Immediately Dial 311 to reach the Taxi and Limousine Commission of New York and file a report. The TLC is your best hope of recovering property, and you can’t do anything without a report.
  3. The TLC has a list of police precincts in NYC. Precincts are the drop-off point for property lost in cabs. Unfortunately, as I learned, many immigrant cabbies don’t want to deal with the police if they don’t have to. So this is hit and miss. Also, some cab companies collect lost property at their office, and only drop it off at the precincts once a week, so you have to call back daily.
  4. Get a list of the taxi brokers in New York City. There are 13,000 taxis in New York, but there only about 75 brokers that manage the vast majority of independent drivers. I called every one of them and got their fax number.
  5. Fax a reward sheet to every broker, with a picture, if possible, of what you lost, a description, and contact information. Many brokers will reflexively say they can’t help you without a medallion number, but when you offer to send a reward sheet, they’re always responsive.

That covers the bases, but it wasn’t enough to get my stuff back. The next step I took was to track down the vendors of GPS payment systems in the cabs. It turns out that every licensed cab in New York has a GPS system that tracks the basic details of each fare. I found out there are three main vendors of GPS systems for NY taxis. A company called DDS, a company called CMT, and Verifone.

They’re not set up to do customer searches, but I weaseled my way through the phone tree and operators to find a technician that could do a database search. And this is where having the details of your cab ride are crucial. I was able to pinpoint my pickup and drop-off locations to specific addresses. I was able to pinpoint my pick-up and drop-off times to within 5 minutes. I knew the fare and tip give or take a couple of dollars. The technician can look the data up, narrow down the hits to specific records with cab numbers. It can take hours to do one of these searches, so you have to be exceedingly nice when you connect with someone in a position to help. I struck out the first two times, but on the third try I hit gold. They found the fare, found the medallion number, and the TLC called the cabbie and connected me.

I was incredibly lucky. The cabbie had my backpack and everything in it. He was an independent driver, not a native English speaker, and it turns out he works two jobs back to back, and hadn’t had the time to track down my contact information in the pack. He put the pack in the trunk and figured I would find him. He was kind of enough to drop the pack off at a UPS store, where I’d arranged packing, shipment and payment with the manager. I’m sending a reward to the cabbie, and a letter of thanks to the supervisor of the technician who helped me recover the pack.

I’ve learned a lot from this experience, other than my capacity for doing dumb things and the tactics of navigating the taxi system in New York to access data. Even while diligently tracking my backpack down, mentally, I wrote it off, assuming I wouldn’t recover it. How was it even conceivable? In that process, I mourned for what I’d lost, but realized it didn’t define me as much as I thought. I’m a writer, but I’m not what I write. A mountain of writing can be a trap that’s hard to escape.

I also learned, again, that people are far more helpful and honest than we’re conditioned to believe. I made more than 200 phone calls to track my backpack down. I talked to cabbies, policemen, administrators, technicians. I remember only one person who was somewhat less than pleasant, but even this person provided the little information and help that they could. I’ve learned that far more people will help you than won’t.

Finally, I’ve learned that miracles happen. But sometimes you have to help them along.

Photo Credit: Fiat Luxe

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Taylor Graves January 23, 2009 at 11:25 am

Chris, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this story, the humor, and the tone in which you walked us through your experience. You’re an awesome writer, and I can (too closely) relate with your story, having left my digital camera and beloved blackberry in a cab once. Unfortunately my story doesn’t have a happy ending like yours (unless you count shelling out $500 and fighting with verizon to get a new phone a happy story)… and I’m still camera-less. Good work tracking your stuff down, and not giving up after over 200 calls! I was happy to hear the world was nice and helpful for you…Great post!!

Chris Kenton January 23, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Hey Taylor. Thanks for reading, and thanks for the kind words. I’m sorry about your camera. One of the first cabbies I talked to–the guy who told me, don’t expect your stuff to turn up at a police station, because cabbies don’t want to deal with the police if they don’t have to–opened up his glove box and showed me a couple of cell phones and cameras. He wasn’t dishonest–he wasn’t trying to hawk the stuff. But as an independent cabbie, his lost and found is his glove box. If there’s no label on your stuff, and you don’t have a receipt to track the cabbie down, your stuff will wander around New York forever.

Ronald Andrew Blodgett January 24, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Ronald Blodgett 01.24.09
Hello Chris. I am still a fan of your writing and speaking ability and I am inspired by the way you think on your feet. Earlier this week, I had to take my mother to Alta Bates emergency room for a COPD problem. A man died in the room while we where there. His two friends grieved, yet they took turns reading President Obama’s inagural speeches as they stood next to a “lifeless” body. After hearing them read, I quickly wrote on a napkin. Before the women left, I gave them a short poem about Jesus. Each lady shook my hand and we bowed toward each other with hands out stretched in the tradition of India’s spiritual culture. They were very thankful. Happy new year Chris!

Jason Hekl January 24, 2009 at 4:51 pm

Chris – I applaud your perseverance! Most people would have given up after a half-dozen calls. And I find encouraging your conclusion that people “are far more helpful and honest than we’re conditioned to believe.” I like the optimism in that, esp. in times like these.

Chris Kenton January 30, 2009 at 12:19 pm

@Ronald. Hi Ronald. Thanks for the kind words and the anecdote. Glad to hear you’re well–and outgoing as ever. Happy new year!

@ Jason. Thanks for posting. You’re right. We’ll need lots all the optimism we can get! :)

Arun Rajagopal January 30, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Hello Chris:
Reading your experience was like being in an adventure thriller with a very happy ending. I’m so much in awe of your perseverance and glad that everything worked out well. Thank you for sharing this experience – it makes me believe that where there is a will, there’s always a way!
Best,
Arun

Ted Wahler January 30, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Chris,

What a well-told and inspirational story. I second Jason Hekl’s sentiment about optimism and human nature. I tend to believe that most people will rise to the level you hold out for them. It is kind of like the Henry Ford quote “Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.” It is a good time in history to star thinking that we can.

Thanks for sharing your story and all the resources you discovered along the way.

Be well,
Ted Wahler

Spacemonkey January 30, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Hey Chris – I can totally relate to your self-abusive interrogation of why you would do such stupid things, but only too late…

I had a wallet stolen right before an international trip while living in Zuerich, Switzerland; and although it was a hassle to get a new American passport in 3 days, it was much, much more distressing to lose my $2 bill that I had kept from my grandmother, who checked out of this world when I was but a gangly teen.

Credit cards, membership cards, money, all that stuff comes and goes, but I would do ANYTHING to get that tattered old $2 bill back. Now I use a money clip, and if it is important it stays home or at work.

Wise words, indeed.

A Maui Blog January 30, 2009 at 10:26 pm

I am glad you got them back :) Thanks for sharing this story and lessons learned. And I agree – there are still a lot of good people around :)

Liza
A Maui Blog

Jean Kenton February 4, 2009 at 2:26 pm

You inherited the gene! I’ve lost more glasses than I care to remember (and in very strange places 9such as down the toilet). But I’m sure I told you of my loss of a $5000 check about two years ago; a bag, with the check in it (as well as license and credit cards), popped out of the basket on the back of the bike as I was crossing a busy intersection. After discovering that it was missing, driving back over the route and not finding it, putting a stop payment on it, mentally flagellating myself for my stupidity, and praying that someone would call to say they had found it, I went to bed praying for a “miracle.” In the morning, I glanced at the flip book of daily inspirational quotes and read ” Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient…and prayerful always.” As I petulantly thought ” I AM being prayerful,” the doorbell rang. Standing at the door was a priest with the bag in his hand -he was driving through the intersection and saw the bag fall out!

DK February 16, 2009 at 8:13 am

What a great story to share. The question is, would people have the courage and determination to make 200 phone calls? Most likely not, and I salute you for never giving up.
I gotta say, this story should go out to the mass audience who lose things in NYC cab rides…
And again, you prove that miracles are not simply prayers but a working process, where the hard workers will eventually end up achieving that miracle.

Your Godfather March 1, 2009 at 10:55 am

Good story, Chris. Your stubbornness must run in the family. Works better in NY than in Paris, where the police can’t find a cabbie from his receipt number because they list only official taxis within the city and neither suburbans nor moonlighting illegals. Fortunately it was possible to put a put a block on the cellphone which worked its way out of my pocket to the floor late one Saturday night, so no one could call Patagonia or Lower Slobbovia at my expense. Needless to say I now have a secure case on my belt—without worrying about whether magnetic waves cause cancer. Interestingly, the French railroads now require a nametag on any luggage left in a rack, but it’s a good idea anyway.

AM March 4, 2009 at 11:16 am

I’ve just recently left my laptop in a yellow cab and unfortunately I did not note the medallion#. I have done everything you suggested in this post, with no success. How were you able to get a hold of a technician when you called the vendors of the GPS payment systems? What exactly did you say? Please help!

Nina Defelice April 25, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Chris,

I was searching the web in my own desperate search and I found your website. I would like to say thank you for providing me with hope on my own taxi search. Last week I was in NYC and traveled from 46th to LGA. I was sitting in the front seat of the cab, since the cab was full and had a long conversation with the driver about kids and the divorce he was going through. He was a truely nice man. I paid cash and didn’t get a receipt for my trip. When I got into the airport, I found a money clip that looks to be an article that is very old. It had some cash, some paper folded notes, and a resturant business card. It had to have fallen into my bag when it was sitting up front. I pride myself on being an honest person and despretely want to get this back to him. It is really the only place where something could have fallen into my bag. The driver was going through a divorce and fighting for his kids and then great, he looses his money clip! I have called TLC and they had run a basic GPS search for me. It provided me with 8 different mediallions, but when I call each cab company, they are not willing to put me in touch with the driver. I had found the number of the 3 gps companies, but now it is the weekend and I can’t get any assistance. I have made over 100 phone calls and no luck on finding him. I didn’t know if I tried the licensing agency if they would provide me with photos of the drivers that I do have mediallions for, because if I saw him, I would know him for certain. I am not sure if the gps companies will still be able to help me next week. Well, this is my sad story, which I am becoming obsessed with, on how I want to return this item to the cab driver. Your story brought me hope that I might be able to find him, so thank you for that. If you have any other further guidance for me or if you remember any specific names of people that helped you, I would appreciate any further info.

Thank you Chris,
Nina Defelice
ninadefelice@gmail.com

Lindsay August 4, 2009 at 12:44 pm

Did you have any luck with verifone? CMT and DDS have been extremely helpful. However, Verifone has not been…wondering if that was your experience too.

Sarah August 6, 2009 at 12:00 pm

I’m having a hard time coming up with a list of the independant cab companies (brokers?) in NYC. How did you find it?

L.S. August 22, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Hi, thanks for such great writing. I’m truly happy for you that you got your stuff back… remarkable ending to your search!

Unfortunately, I’m not that lucky… I lost my pocketbook in a yellow cab with TONS of valuables in it, including my ipod, camera and approx. 8GB worth of cards full of sentimental, precious pictures and videos……..!!!!!!!

The most upsetting part of it is, that my camera had my name and phone number on it!!! Plus, I had my drivers license in there too, which has my name and address on it. It would have been the simplest thing for a decent human being to pick up the phone, dial my number and make my life. I have been devastated.

I’ve contacted TLC, filed a claim, called police stations, etc. Nothing. I gave up calling again and again, with the realization that I had enough identification in there that had someone wanted to return my stuff, they would have done so a long time ago. This happened like 3 wks ago.

I’m still devastated and I’m really upset that NYC still hasn’t come up with a decent tracking system, because unfortunately i had no cab receipt but I could have tracked down that cab 3 minutes after i got out of the cab, had there been a proper tracking system. I have all the information written down and realized i’d left my stuff in there as soon as I closed the cab door and he rode off.

Any suggestions……….? :-( Is it stupid of me to give up so quickly…. or do you agree that I’m out of luck, considering how easy it would be to return my stuff since my name & phone number is on it….?

Thanks for reading..!

L.S.

Wen November 2, 2009 at 5:49 pm

That story was very inspiring and helpful. I’m glad that you got all your valuable stuff back, I know how distraught one can be when their valuables are lost in a cab somewhere in a big city. Why? Because I am in the same predicament right now, that’s why I stumbled upon your story because I just recently went to Chicago and during a rather “eventful” night, I totally forgot my camera in a cab. The thing is that my camera is a manual one (it was for a photography fundamentals class) and doesn’t store pictures digitally so there is no way I can describe to them what is on there. Also this camera is my friend’s dad’s camera, so I’ll be in big trouble if I don’t find it. I just don’t know what to do, but I wonder if there is a GPS system similar to the one in New York for Chicago. Thank goodness I remember the street and the time that I took the cab, and can probably remember the color, which I think is white. Hopefully I’ll try your method and see what comes up, I mean who would really want to snatch a manual camera these days?

S W February 18, 2010 at 12:52 am

Dear Chris,
I wanted to thank you so much with sharing your experiences. We had a similar incident which happened with my huband’s suitcase and his laptop. He arrived in New York for a business trip. On his first day, he put his suitcase in the trunk of a cab. After paying the bill and LUCKILY getting a receipt (with the medallion number) he jumped out of the cab toward the trunk. I think the driver forgot he had something in the trunk and he drove away – with my husband now thinking how on earth he would be able to do business without his laptop etc.
We live out of the US so really didnt know where to start our search to find his belongings – but your article was so clear about how to get the job done. Thanks again. Your perserverance also inspired me as I was on the phone for 3 hours but managed in the end miraculously to track his suitcase and his laptop. Usually this process to recover lost property takes 2 days, but after reporting it at 6am we located the bag by about noon, 6 hours later!!! This made a huge difference to my husbands work trip – THANK YOU! i think the ladies at the TLC were tired of an irritating women who kept calling them so they finally agreed to connect me to the appropriate taxi broker! Unbelievable. So a big thank you to you and to all the staff at TLC and to the very honest and nice cab driver for keeping our things safe. We really APPRECIATE IT!
I would also like to share something with you. Since i know how valuable things are to all of us i stumbled across this website.
http://www.trackitback.com/portal
Apparently one can register mobiles, laptops, suitcases with them. If they become lost, this company manages to track the lost items for you and sends them to you! will try them out!
I really am very glad to hear that you managed to retrieve your journal – a very heart moving story.
Thank you so much again.
Regards
S W

Mela June 7, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Thanks for this story. I too have had miraculous endings, and have been saved by the kindess and goodness of decent people. I need that luck again. I am in the process of moving out of the apartment I shared with my ex boyfriend. My lovely friend has been kind enough to let me stay at her place. Saturday I went to my apartment to pack up some clothes and lugged the suitcase to my job at a bar. I was sleep deprived enough as it was, and after a long night and too many shots with customers, my brain was not working.

I was in decent enough shape to remember to take the suitcase with me when I left work, and to direct the cabbie on how to get to my friend’s place. When I arrived at my destination, the only thing on my mind was sleep.

I didn’t realize til the next morning that my suitcase was missing. I have been in contact with police precincts in Queens and Manhattan, I filed a report with the TLC, giving every detail I can think of. They are doing the GPS thing now. Everyone I have spoken to thus far has been really nice and sympathetic. I want to get the message to this cabbie that I am more than willing to give a reward to get it back. Is there anyway I could get the numbers of the taxi brokers? I’m not too lazy to find the brokers myself; I just don’t have enough time!! In addition to breaking up with my boyfriend, I now have to find an apartment, do a summer internship, take a night class, and work at my job at a bar. Oh, and I turn 30 next week. Getting this suitcase back would be the best birthday present ever!!

khyati June 25, 2010 at 1:36 am

Been reading your excellent blog for quite a few weeks now, and i am enjoying many of your excellent topics.

Binny Patel September 29, 2010 at 12:49 pm

I have the exact same story as Mela (2 posts above me). This past weekend, after 48 hrs of no sleep, I had to go out for a very close friend of mine’s birthday. I decided to spend the night in the city in order to get more sleep because I had to be up there the next morning anyway. As I’m leaving the birthday, I remembered to take my suitcase into the cab with me. I paid the driver with cash, got out of the front seat to get my suitcase (from the back), and he sped off. I am hoping he just forgot it was in the back seat and did not drive off purposely. Regardless, I am in contact with the two Manhatten precincts, but I have not had luck with people being helpful or kind. I do not know how you got them to do the GPS method, or even give you any information besides “Your property is not here”. Anyyyyyyy advice what so ever would be greatly appreciated.

I work as a pharmacist in Walgreens. So, you may be aware getting a single second to myself (even for lunch) is sometimes impossible. Hence, I have not had the luxury to call the GPS companies or brokers myself. I’m hoping I can take some personal time off in order to resolve this because that suitcase had almost everything I’ve ever owned.

Maegan January 3, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Hi Chris,
I lost my camera in a yellow cab last week and read your blog and decided to try and track down the cabbie through the 3 GPS companies…and GUESS WHAT.. it worked! I contacted CMT who had the nicest service technician ever named Halley. He found my cabbie and his med. # and Taxi and Limo Service connected me to his home # When he woke up, the friendly cabbie named Khalib called me and said he had my camera and would return it to Brooklyn where I was staying. IT WAS A XMAS MIRACLE! It was all thanks to your helpful blog, I would have never found it without your advice. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Happy New Year!
-Maegan (California girl who now loves NY cabs)

Steve January 20, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Chris,

Thanks so much for posting this. Unfortunately, my search for a lost camera hasn’t produced any results yet, but this has been a big help. I was wondering if anyone could refer me to a specific point of contact at DDS? I’ve had CMT and Verifone search their databases…and both were very nice…but I can’t seem to get any help from DDS. I’ve spoken to a receptionist (I think) twice…who seems to brush me off…but took my information down and said they would look. I’ve also left a message. I don’t want to aggravate these guys, but at the same time, I know with each day that passes, the chances of me tracking down my camera go down. Thanks!

Lydia February 6, 2011 at 7:28 am

I’m going through a similar thing right now- it’s devastating because I lost my suitcase with some extremely sentimental and irreplaceable items. I’m trying to do everything to get it back. My next step is to call the GPS companies but I can’t seem to find the numbers to start. How do I get in touch with these companies so I can have them search? Any help would be greatly appreciated for this is one of the worst things that has ever happened to me and I’m sick about it. Thanks.

Steve February 7, 2011 at 9:28 am

Verifone: 718-752-1656
DDS: 718-361-2345
CMT: 718-937-4444

CMT did an immediate search for me on my first phone call. Verifone took a couple of calls but ‘Michael’ was extremely helpful there. DDS has been useless…I’ve got the runaround from them for nearly a month and still haven’t been able to get them to perform a search. Michael at Verifone did tell me he had heard that DDS may be folding, so that could be the source of my difficulties with them. Good luck! It hasn’t worked out for me, but I do appreciate all the info everyone posted here.

Lydia February 7, 2011 at 9:36 am

thanks so much- but they werent able to provide you with a medallion number or anything? I’m calling them all today.

Steve February 7, 2011 at 9:40 am

Lydia…

Verifone and CMT couldn’t find any fares that matched the info I provided. I knew exact pickup and dropoff locations…and the fare…and a pretty good idea of the times…but nothing matched in their records. It’s possible the cab I rode was tied to DDS or possible I’ll just never get a match. You’ve seen some of the success stories above, but my understanding is there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get a match.

Also…if you have trouble getting past the person answering the phone, try asking for ‘tech support’ without telling the receptionist/person answering the phone exactly why you’re calling. I found the receptionists to be skeptical but the tech support people for the most part to be considerate and understanding.

Lydia February 16, 2011 at 11:44 am

Thanks so much for all your info- I’ve done everything suggested here in this blog and more. My last ditch effort is this website i created in hopes of it reaching someone who can help: http://www.findphilippe.webs.com

It’s been such a crazy and stressful ordeal- I just wish I could locate my stuff. This site and the help from Steve have been really beneficial though to me in my search.

From now on I’m never putting anything in the trunk and keeping it right next to m at all times.

John Carroll May 21, 2011 at 5:14 pm

About an hour ago I left a backpack with a macbook pro, several internet modems, my keys, my passport, my medication, a few credit cards, and tons of papers with personal information on them. I, like Chris keep irreplaceable design and programming work on the laptop. I have been meaning to set up auto backup, but only have backed up about two months ago. Needles to say, A sinking helpless feeling washed over me when it occurred to me that my backpack was still in the cab that had just dropped me and my bike off at a bike store to fix a flat. I had often had thoughts about how much stuff I carry in my bag and had actually prepared myself for the event that I would one day leave it on the metro train. I do not own a car and ride the metro everywhere, and bring my computer and peripheral with me everywhere. The probability of this happening seemed so high. When this happened, I was in shocked state, thinking:”Well here it is, its happening” I also was thinking thoughts like “My life is over” or ” My life just changed today”. This brings me to my point These were material items. But the creative work and the hours of toil that went into creating the work on the laptop was immeasurable. Some people I work with are not that concerned with there work and would shake this occurrence off, while taking the time to cancel a few credit cards and apply for a new ID.I wish I could be like that, but I have to admit I am unhealthily attached to my computer ad my work. I may have gotten a wake up call today, through this experience.
Back to the event. When I realized it was missing, I called the police. I said that I had just had my backpack stolen by a cab driver who just “took off” with my bag. This is not entirely true, and I am on the fence as to wether it was unreasonable and selfish to report a lost bag to 911. However there is some validity to the argument that all that personal information could be dangerous in the hands of an immigrant community, of which manny cabbies belong. Furthermore, I did have medication in there, but not having it would not be life threatening. Regardless, the 911 operator dispatched an officer to my location.
As Chris mentions in his post, I did not get a receipt, or even remember the cab company name. He would not let me pay with credit card and we had to go to an ATM to pay the fare. This made me even more worried that an independent cab driver would be able to easily keep my three thousand dollar computer and everything else with little chance of my finding him.
As I stood at the bike shop deciding what to do next, I tried to calculate how long it would take me to frantically put on the new inner tube I had just purchased and drive back to the cab stand where this cabbie had picked me up. I thought I could ask the other cabbies if they remember him picking me up since they had voiced a few words in protest that I took his cab because he was not the next in line for a fare. I chose him for the minivan. I considered that maybe he did not even know it was there and tried to calculate the scenario for how ling it would take hi to figure it out.
I decided to fix the bike and bike back to the cabstand, I considered telling the bike shop employees that if the cab driver or the police arrived to tell them I went back to the cab stand. But I decided that time was of the essence and quickly fixed my bike to what seemed to be the inquisitive eyes of several passers by and bike shop employees who could tell there was something seriously wrong with this man changing his innertube frantically.
Once on the road, I started to try to come to terms with the face that i may never see it again. There is that moment when you begin to let your cynical view al of the chaotic variables that could easily part me and my backpack forever.
I specifically rode the same route that the cab driver had taken and after few blocks, I started looking at all the minivans, hoping to see him. All of a sudden a cab comes over the crest of a hill I was climbing and is driving with traffic in my direction. I was going o yell “hey” to whoever was behind the wheel of that cab, in a desperate hope that it may be him. Just as he came to pass me, he stick his hand up in the air and yelled “hey”.
I was so happy when he pulled over and I swung around to meet him. First I told him I wanted to kiss him and then literally stuck my head through the window of his minivan and laid my head on his shoulder and said “thank you, thank you. thank you, you are a good man etc”
I immediately handed him the $30.oo I had in my pocket and instructed him to take me to an ATM where I withdrew another $100.00 and gave it to him.
This all ended well but I want remember how I felt when this first happened and all the thoughts that went through my mind. Like Chris I am very thorough and in addition to thinking quickly on my feet, I can navigate through the thickets of voicemails, apathetic customer service reps and dead ends. I started to think about how long I would keep calling and how many different avenues I would try before giving up on my laptop. Knowing myself, I knew it would be an exhaustive and all-consuming process.I am so happy to hear Chris’s methodical and unrelenting process.I am also grateful for his tips, especially about getting a cab receipt.
But I need to think about learning to “let-go” a little more to occurrences like this that are, in the scheme of things, not really that important. Some people I know are so good at this. I think I may actually look into a lojack tracking device for my computer. I will also backup and not carry so many vital items in my bag. After that thought, I need begin to have a less serious relationship with material things, even my creative work.In closing, I just want to say that my experience makes me agree with Chris’ sassertion that miracles do happen, and people are generally good more than they are bad.

Sean March 19, 2012 at 12:51 pm

I lost a bag in a cab too! Luckily I paid with a card so all I had to do was call CMS at 718-937-4444. I told gave them the last 4 digits of my card and the $ charged. They gave me the medallion #, cab owner, and their phone #. Thanks CMS!!!

Dinika Amaral March 31, 2012 at 7:21 am

Hi Chris,

If you or anyone would help me with a comprehensive list of NYC Taxi Brokers, I’d appreciate it very much. Do let me know.

Thank you.

Dinika Amaral

andrew June 12, 2013 at 4:21 am

Hello to not only Chris but to all those people out there who have been in this terrible situation even people we people we hate most!

Background
Spend over 2 years saving for one of the most amazing trips around America every person loves to have in Australia.
We love their accent we love the culture and most of all we love the American people!
So excited about the trip counting down the days with my best mate till the day arrives! I live with my mum who was so excited about the trip for me she bought a brand new iphone 5 and with new number so i could communicate with her.

Situation
1.Plane delayed due to bad weather having to wait over 3 hours for it to finally leave Sydney!
2.Due to lack of sleep of excitement the night before went out and with friends to celebrate my trip away for a month! If only i knew that on the plane i was sitting next to a mum who just had a baby who was only a few months old who would not stop crying the entire trip! What made it worse it was a 17 hour trip! I dont think i would have gone out….
3.Finally arriving in New York City the place i dream of coming my entire life !
We found out that Taxi cost over $70 to get to area of Hells Kitchen, we were going to catch a bus there, but due to the lateness of the plane arriving and waiting for our luggage to arrive we had miss it.
Lucky? We were stop by a taxi guy that offered to take us where we wanted for $45 plus toll charges so we decided that we would go for that! On the way we avoided a couple of accidents on the way due to bad weather (raining very heavily) Finally after almost an hour we arrived at our arrival. Due to the bad weather i quickly got my wallet out and paid cash as discuss at the start of out trip he would charge us this price. So i paid the $55 and gave him a $5 tip as well even though he did not assist us to get our luggages from the boot as he would have got wet.
The Black limo looking car then left us and i did not get a receipt for the ride as he did a better price for us.
As soon as i walk into the unit i quickly realise i had left my iphone behind on the back seat…..
My heart was in my mouth! The feeling was worse then a break up with a girlfriend for over 3 years.
My heart was racing ! I quickly ran outside realising that the taxi had left! I decided not to go out that night and wait by the window for hours hoping that he would arrived and thinking about his big Tip i would give him……
Ive always been a positive person and never think bad about anything at all! And believe it all not i still dont.
I did not have any receipt for the taxi, I paid cash as well and the worse thing was that i couldnt even call my mum as she had a new number and i did not know what it was………….
We all have these moments and imagine we should have thought things out like saving all your contact on laptop and downloading that ICoud App when your little brother first told you about it. All the photos and videos that are priceless that are now gone…….
I arrived on Monday and its now Wednesdays no sign of the Taxi driver i send a few emails to the lost and found not getting anything back.
Another night without sleep and i come across an email from Chris and thought my situation was not as bad as what his was or the other peoples responses.
I thank god every day for allowing my to have an amazing life even till this day i know things can not always been perfect. I have an amazing well paid job that i love and a family that i care so much for!.
I will call those numbers provided and see if i have any luck but if i dont it will be okay! I know it will
I do have an idea though which enough support i think everyone can make a difference.
I will be email Taxi in New York and when i arrive back into Australia and with the right connection to have either a sticker made up that warns people to make sure they take everything i.e a checklist or if the cab guys can ask customers before you leave can you check if you have your mobile/wallets and luggage etc. If people from McDonalds can ask would you like fries with that there is no reason why Taxi drivers cant ask have you got everything before you leave……………
I wont lose hope but i just dont want this happening to anyone else ever!

Chris your an inspiration and for those who also responded!
Think positive and the law of attraction will follow.

Chris Kenton June 12, 2013 at 8:36 am

Andrew—

First of all: welcome to the US!!! With an attitude like yours, you’ll have a great trip with or without an iPhone. Yeah, I know. That sounds ridiculous when you’ve just lost it, but the trip is about so much more than anything a device can deliver.

Here’s the bad news. If you took a town car, it was probably unlicensed, and won’t be trackable–unless you saw a meter in the car that was set when you started the trip.

Your best bet is using the power of the technology in the iPhone. There are a couple of Apple Stores in NY. I would talk to the guys at there and see if they can help. It may be possible to use your Apple ID to track the device, especially if it was a brand new phone. Just use your charm and persistence.

I wish you the best of luck–and whatever happens, keep smiling. You’ll have a great trip.

I’m going offline for a couple of days, but I’ll check back on Sunday. Let me know how it goes. And if you need some cheering up, go down to the basement of Grand Central’s main terminal and find the gelato shop in the northwest corner. Some of the best gelato around. :)

Good luck.

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