When Pixels Become Personal: The Wallet Saga

This smells like spam.

Part of my daily routine involves interacting with people on Twitter. It’s a unique aspect of my job that I really enjoy, but it’s not always easy to see if what I’m doing is working. Did my words of encouragement to a frustrated student make their day any better? Did the jovial nature of a particular tweet make anyone genuinely “lol”? It’s hard to say. On some days more than others I feel like I’m talking to pixels instead of people. But despite being few and far between, these times you’re made aware of a tangible impact you’ve digitally instigated are times to relish.

walletThrough a series of random events, I had one of these moments earlier this year when I noticed an interesting post to our Facebook account. People post a lot of things to the CSU Facebook wall, whether it’s asking us to promote an event or something not related to the University at all. So, we keep an eye open for these but don’t spend too much time wading through the murky waters of spam. I wasn’t working this particular day, but I decided to take a glance at our page and this post caught my eye:

“Hey Steven [last name]. I found in my Taxi your wallet /purse in SARATOGA-MALTA NY. give me a call [phone number].”

At this rate, I almost dismissed the message as some sort of spam, but I decided to plug the student’s name into the directory database to see if he was a student.

Sure enough. Steven was a current Ram. I snagged his email address and sent him a note along with a Facebook message letting him know about the post. Before long, Steven responded with the following message:

“Hey Chase, Thanks a lot. I’m headed back to Colorado today so I need that. You’re a life saver. Thanks, Steve.”

It’s our responsibility

To make a long story short, I later found out that Steven was visiting family in New York over Christmas break and was scheduled to fly back to Colorado that same day. He had somehow left his wallet in a cab and hadn’t realized it was missing until he read the message. A quick phone call later and Steven was on his way to meet the driver and pick up his wallet — found just the way he left it.

I don’t write these words to toot my own horn. I was merely the middle man. A facilitator. I write these words because I’m enthralled by the power of social media. I’m amazed by the way a taxi driver in New York was able to return a wallet to its rightful owner by connecting with someone clear across the country. And I think it’s totally cool that the driver’s first instinct was to turn to social media as a way of bridging a gap.

When I thanked the taxi driver for his generosity, he responded that “It’s our responsibility… as a human” I like that.

Steven has since paid it forward by finding and returning someone’s lost wallet. I was lucky enough to meet Steven in person, and now we randomly run into each other on campus and laugh about the strange situation and how it all played out.

Thanks to Fouzia from New York, Steven found his wallet, and I found a friend.

So next time you feel like you’re talking to pixels, remember that there’s a real live person on the other end. And your words do have an impact whether you’re answering someone’s question or trying to give them something to laugh about. Like Fouzia says, It’s our responsibility… as a human.”