Taxi Lessons from Losing a Laptop

Weird title, huh?

This weekend I’m sure you saw my wonderful babysitting pictures on Instagram. It was possibly the best babysitting gig I have ever had. They even gave me an extra $40 to take a taxi home since it was after midnight. I appreciated everything they did for me and I hope they ask me back soon!

I waited outside the apartment building for a little while; taxis aren’t as popular in this area but they do have yellow cabs which is a plus. When I finally jumped in a cab I told the cab driver the cross streets I live off of. He responded with stumbling confusion not knowing where that was, which is unfortunately normal for me because I live in Brooklyn. It’s usually difficult to find a cab driver who knows all 5 boroughs, which I don’t blame them that’s way too much to memorize! Still, I don’t understand why taxis don’t have GPS’s…

Anyways, I tried to explain where I live with the usual landmarks. I even pulled up the directions on my phone. He still insisted that he didn’t know where I lived and suggested I get another cab. Since I still consider myself a newbie to NY and I am kind of shy in these circumstances I got out of the cab. I was so focused on the problem at hand that I…

FORGOT MY LAPTOP IN THE BACK SEAT OF THE CAB!

Yes… I left my laptop in the back of a taxi cab. Of course I didn’t notice until the cab was out of sight. I was in such disbelief, I didn’t know what to do!

I was going to break down and cry but then I decided that wasn’t going to do me any good. So I went back into the apartment building to ask the doorman if there was anyone I could call. The doorman was really nice. He said there’s no big head quarters for taxis, but that there was a police station just around the corner. He gave me directions and I was on my way.

I found my way to the police station. …I’ve never walked into a police station before I didn’t know what to expect. When I opened the door there were two police men sitting at the front desk. They kindly greeted me and asked how they could help. I explained the story to them and said I didn’t know how they could help but that the doorman had directed me to them. They asked if I got the cab number or any information off the car. I said no. They asked if I paid with a receipt. I calmly explained that I didn’t pay for a ride because the driver didn’t take me anywhere. When they understood that part of the story the expression on their faces were just as surprised as I was when I realized my mistake. They were so kind and sympathetic.

The two police men explained to me that when a cab driver finds a lost item in their cab they are supposed to turn it into the closest precinct. Then they gave me a phone number for the closest precinct. I said thank you and left the station.

I was just going to go home, but instead I stopped to make the call.

I called the precinct. I dialed the extension for the switchboard operator and someone picked up the phone. After explaining the whole story again and why I didn’t get the cab number this person told me that no one had come by yet. He gave me another number for a different precinct and suggested I check back in an hour.

This time instead of calling this number I figured I should  try to get home as it was getting closer to 1am. I found a taxi and before I got in I asked if he knew where my cross streets were. He didn’t know exactly but he knew a different cross street that was close enough and would cut my travel time in half.

At some point during all this chaos I tried calling my parents and boyfriend, but obviously they weren’t available at that time of night. So I just sent them a text saying, “I lost my laptop” so they would know why I called.

The new taxi driver dropped me off at the subway station that I take into work every morning so the walk home really wasn’t bad. It was about $25 so I actually got to keep some extra money which was nice.

On my walk home I decided to call the precincts again. I called the first one again, then the second new one. Neither had seen a laptop come in. On this attempt I did learn that cab drivers usually drop off items at the end of their shift. The police man over the phone told me that since I spoke with the cab driver after midnight his shift would most likely be over at 8am. He also suggested I call 311. 311 is a phone number you call for New York government information and non-emergencies. Apparently there are 8 precincts in NY where a cab driver would turn in a lost item. The police man explained that by calling 311 I could get the phone numbers of those 8 precincts.

When I got home I settled down in my room to call 311. A nice man answered the phone and asked how he could help. I explained my situation and asked for the 8 precincts’ phone numbers. He gave them to me and also told me about 311 online. I could go to nyc.gov/311 to get similar information and fill out a report. After I got off the phone I decided it was time for bed. It was some time between 1:30 and 2:00am so I might as well get some sleep.

When I woke p the next morning it was after 9am so I knew that the cab driver’s shift was over. I called the 8 precincts… still no luck. I went online and filled out the report. It was really easy to fill out. I received a confirmation email where I could stay updated on the report’s progress. 

Since there’s no one big taxi headquarters I decided to look up the taxi garages in the neighborhood I was babysitting in. Turns out there were like 50 something. I didn’t want to count, I just started calling. Some people were nice, some were very short and other offices were closed because it was a Sunday.

There were two men who struck me the most. Both were very sympathetic. The first man was very upset that this happened to me and understood my effort to call as many places as I could. He told me that not all his cars had made it back yet so that I should call everyone I want to then make a second round of calls. The second man was also very upset this happened to me. He gave me some great advice saying I should never get out of a cab once I’m inside. It’s the taxi driver is obligated to drive me where I want. He encouraged me to use a GPS on my phone to direct the taxi driver. Now I know this sounds a little bit like what I had done in the first place, but I could have been more demanding. It was good to here that I wasn’t the one in the wrong here. Next time maybe I’ll be more confident and tell the cab driver what to do.

I don’t know how far I got down the list of taxi garages but I marked my spot to pick up later. I didn’t want to dwell on it too much so I got on with the rest of my day.

I haven’t found my laptop yet so I’m going to call places until Wednesday. My thought is that I gave it a shot and if it’s not in by Wednesday I need to leave it up to fate. I filed out a report so if it does get turned in they should notify me.

I’m not sharing these 1,300 something words with you to cry about my loss and ask you to pity me. I’ve pretty much excepted my faith and am weighing my options for my next purchase. I honestly didn’t really want to share this story. It was a silent lost I wanted to take, but after talking with my boyfriend on Sunday he convinced me this could be a helpful story for you fellow Yo Pros. He convinced me that if I shared my story it might encourage others to do as much as they can with a situation that seems impossible. Yes, the story would’ve been better if I had found my laptop, that would have really proved something, but he pointed out how much I had learned about the NY taxi and police system. Look at all the information I now know for the future:

  • Yellow taxi cabs each respond to their own taxi garage.
  • Know the number of the taxi you get in.
  • If the taxi driver doesn’t know your cross streets try asking if s/he knows how to a subway stop closest to you.
  • Lost items found in a taxi are turned into the closest precinct.
  • There are 8 precincts in NY that cover the 5 boroughs where lost items can be turned in.
  • The person answering the phone at the precinct rotates so if I call at a different time of the day I won’t be calling to the same person over and over again.
  • Taxi drivers work roughly an 8 hour shift.
  • There is a 311 phone number and website I can go to for non-emergency government help and information.
  • Always keep your laptop and other important items in a bag that you never take off while traveling/commuting.
  • You can rely on yourself. You don’t need the safety net of calling mom/dad/boyfriend in the middle of the night to find out what to do.

If you take one thing away from this post (I think it’s my longest post ever), I hope its a sense of perseverance. Perseverance may not get you what you wanted when you set out, but it can lead you to places and people where you’ll learn new things.

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4 thoughts on “Taxi Lessons from Losing a Laptop

  1. I appreciate you sharing this story! Whew it sounds like such a stressful night. You handled it so much better than I would have. I know I would have absolutely broken down in tears at the thought that no one could figure out how to get me home. Don’t get me started on if I lost my laptop along with it! haha. It just shows how mature you are that you overcame the situation by finding the bright side. ❤ Very inspirational. You are one of my nominees for my Shine On award here:
    http://muffinsandmocha.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/shine-on-award-nominees/ . I am taking a Critical Thinking class and it is trying to teach everyone how to not always listen to your "critical voice" in stressful situations. I always let things that happen to me define me in a negative way as opposed to saying…ok well that sucked, tomorrow will surely be better! Talk soon!

    • Thank you so much for the kind words and the nomination. That critical voice class sounds interesting and very helpful. I would’ve taken it if I had the chance.

      It was tough and frustrating but I guess after you push yourself to overcome situations like this overtime you have more control over your emotions. You can’t control what happens to you but you can control how you act. Also, its pretty rewarding knowing I can take care of myself by picking up the pieces and finding a solution on my own. I think that’s what I’ll walk away with the most.

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