Where have all the cowboys gone?

A few nights ago, I arrived home after a wonderful weekend in London. It was dark, and rainy, and both myself and my brother rushed to get into my car and out of the miserable weather which had welcomed us home to Ireland. Unfortunately, in all the rush and excitement (and tiredness too), my brother put down his hand luggage bag in the car park, and forgot to pick it back up before we drove off. We discovered this later that night, and it put a bit of a damper on our otherwise brilliant weekend.

While I didn’t hold out much hope for a return, I filed a report with the airport lost and found, and kept checking their “Found Items” page on the website to see if it had been reported. Imagine my surprise when, 2-3 days later, I got a call to say that the bag had been found. I was pretty happy, and went out to the airport to pick it up. It was when we were confirming that the bag was really mine that I realised that I shouldn’t have been quite so happy – while the books and some other bits and pieces were still in the bag, my brother’s Nintendo DS and charger were gone. That’s right – whoever found the bag first didn’t turn it in. Instead, they went through its contents, and stole from it. How disappointing.

Over the years, I’ve come across many lost wallets, bags, money, etc. And with each lost thing that I’ve found, my first reaction is to wonder where I can turn it in. I’ve looked in wallets and bags to find some identification, I’ve called numbers in phones to try to find the owner, but I’ve never, ever, even considered rifling through the contents and taking what I liked from them. And who would? Who was brought up to believe that it’s acceptable to take someone else’s belongings, simply because they’ve had the bad luck to misplace them?

Once, I found €20 on the floor of my office lobby. I picked it up, and went straight to reception to hand it in. I remember the receptionist looking at me as if I was a bit mad, and saying that if no one claimed it, I could have it. That was the last thing on my mind. I was remembering my time as a college student, when €20 in your pocket made you feel pretty flush, and thinking that if I lost my €20, I’d want someone to return it.

I would always try to return something lost, because I know how frustrating it is to arrive home and discover that something is missing. The hassle of cancelling and replacing cards, the stress of trying to find the missing item, the sadness when you realise that it’s really gone. Apparently, this is not the way everyone thinks. Where have all the cowboys gone?

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