Trust at O’Hare Airport

I flew Friday night from DC to Kansas City, by way of O’Hare.  That’s redundant, everything is by way of O’Hare.

We left from Gate B8.  I got to my seat, put my MacBook Air in the seatpocket ahead of me, and settled in.  After a few minutes, the pilot announced the equipment had a problem, and would we all please deplane to board another aircraft at Gate B7.

We grumbled but got up to go.  As it happened, I was last out of the plane.  I talked with another passenger for 20 minutes until we boarded the new plane.  I reached into my briefcase to put my computer in the seatpocket and—heart-drop.  I had left it in the other plane at B8.

Why You Can’t Trust Strangers

I ran out the door, back to B8.  The gate agent said the cleaning crew had not been in the plane, and it was empty, but he couldn’t allow me in—he would go look for me.   He did, and after a bit too long, returned—empty-handed.

I ran back to the plane at 7B, whereupon the pilot—same pilot, same crew—came back with me and went in himself.  No computer.

We had to leave for KC .  I filed a baggage report when I got there.  I was cautiously optimistic.  I was 98% confident I had left it in the plane, and 100% sure the only other possibility was the gate area.  I gave it 50% odds I’d see it again.

By end of Saturday, I dropped the odds to 25%.  I emailed O’Hare baggage too.  By Sunday evening, I made plans to replace the computer.  Monday afternoon, 10 minutes before walking into the computer store, I got a phone call. 

It was from Francisco Q., of West Shakespeare Street, Chicago.  He asked for me by name, and told me he had found a computer.  He said he was an employee not of United, but of an O’Hare catering service. 

He hadn’t found it in the plane or the gate area.  It was in an O’Hare parking lot, in a plastic bag.  He said a friend bought a charger (the battery was depleted), and knew how to find my name from the Mac Address Book function. 

Francisco wanted to know how I wanted him to send it to me. I said “fast,” and he agreed to do so.  I was beside myself with relief, and offered him several hundred dollars as a reward.  He said little about that.  I planned to send a check by FedEx to him the next day.

The next day he called to ask, apologetically, if I could send the money before he sent the computer, as it was going to cost him a lot to ship, and he was out the cost of the power cord too.  He asked if he could pick up the money at Western Union–the same day.

Once Burned–Do You Give Up Trusting Strangers?

I can hear what you’re thinking.  But I could hear his voice, and I had no trouble believing him.   I sent him the reward, plus reimbursement for the power cord, and gave him my FedEx account number.  (Do you know how much poor people pay in fees to use Western Union?  No wonder they stay poor).

You can draw your own conclusions about United Airlines ground employees (myself, I still don’t know)–and about Francisco Q.  In fact, you probably already have. 

So tomorrow morning, when FedEx arrives, we’ll know whether or not I was right to trust Francisco.  If I was wrong, I’m not out of pocket just a computer, but a few hundred dollars as well, and will publicly feel stupid.

If I was right, I’ll have my computer a bit faster, and feel better about the human race.  And so will Francisco.  And I think you will too.

I’ll let you know. 

Meanwhile—place your bets in the comments section below.  I’m giving heavy odds on Francisco.