When enjoying the wilderness, there are certain rules that many hikers follow. If you pack it in, you take it out. Sadly there are times while hiking in the back country that we find garbage that others have left intentionally. (To the person who left an open full can of beer in the middle of the trail, you are an idiot!)
One glorious Sunday in July, a friend and I were hiking the Steamboat Mountain Lookout Trail. When what should I find? None other than a cellphone. We stopped and looked at the phone. This was definitely unique item to be found on the trail and technically it is an item that did not belong where it was found. So I picked it up. It was damp. It wouldn’t turn on. But this phone belonged to someone. The case looked worn and well-loved. I decided to take it with me and try to find the owner when I got home.
One reason I decided to try to find the owner was because I know how heartbreaking it can be to lose all the data on your phone. This past spring my touch screen quit working on my iPhone. When I took it to my cell phone provider, I was informed that although I had insurance they no longer repair cell phones. I would have to pay $200.00, lose all my data and get a new phone that I would have to spend months learning how to use. That was not acceptable to me. I ended up going to a local phone repair shop. For half the cost they fixed my screen and I was able to keep all of my data and my phone.
Another reason I wanted to find the owner was because of something that happened to a friend of mine. She was hiking the Sluice Boxes in the Little Belt Mountains and lost her cell phone. She didn’t realize it until on her way home from the hike. She thought she was going to have to buy a new phone. But some other hikers found her phone and were able to get a hold of her. She was so relieved to have her phone back.
Once home, I tried to find a cord for charging the phone. I also had to take the phone out of its case to dry it off. That was when I discovered that this phone was a Samsung Galaxy S6 and I had nothing compatible. It just happened that at work the next day our computer tech guy was helping us with our network and he had a cord that was compatible with the phone.
After charging the phone for 24 hours, a blue light came on. But I could not get the phone to turn on. The touch screen had been damaged. I examined the phone again. I was able to access the port holding the SIM card. There were numbers on the card and it looked like it was intact. No damage.
I called the service provider and asked if they could trace an owner by the SIM card. It was a very interesting conversation. (Some of which I am saving for another post.) But the gist of it was that yes, they could trace the owner through the card and all I had to do was take it to a Verizon store.
Later that day, I was at a Verizon store explaining what had happened. I was told that they couldn’t give me their customer’s information (I completely understand!) but if I would like to leave my name and phone number that they would have the person call me when they received their phone. I thought that was really nice. After all, this phone and I had bonded while trying to find their owner. And I really do want to know that the person it belongs to actually got it back.
That was over a week ago. I have not heard from the owner. I thought it would be obsessive if I showed up at the Verizon store again asking if they were able to contact the owner. (The way the phone service is you have to go through a round robin of options to talk to someone back east.) So I can’t really check on the phone through Verizon’s service.
I feel a little sad that I’ve not heard anything further about the cell phone and/or it’s owner. Maybe they had written off their phone and didn’t care that someone found it and took the time to try to return it to them. Maybe it is part of the culture of entitlement, the feeling that of course someone would return my lost phone. Maybe we have lost the art of saying thank you. Maybe they just don’t care.
Whatever their reasons….. I know that for myself, if my phone had been lost and someone had found it and I was able to get it back and could talk to them. I would. I would want to know where it had been found. I would also want to thank them. But that is just me.
Because I am the person that I am, I will continue to pick up trash that less considerate hikers leave on the trail. And yes, if I find another cell phone, I will try to return it to its owner. Even if I never find out the rest of the EPIC SAGA.