It's not easy being a nice guy sometimes.
The other day I parked my car in a downtown ramp. As I entered the stairwell, I looked down and noticed that there was a wallet on the group as well as some surrounding paper, such as a Subway and Dunkin' Donuts card. But one other item did catch my eye -- a passport card.
Rather obviously, someone had made a robbery, taken the valuables out of the wallet like money, and discarded it. But the passport card has some value, having just spent money to get one. So ... what to do next?
I collected the stuff and put it in my car. My first step was to call the parking ramp authority. Since it was Saturday, I got a recording and was asked to leave a message. Oh well.
When I got home, I called the police and explained the situation. The woman who answered suggested that I go to the post office because they deal with passports. That didn't seem to be much help.
Luckily, we have a database for practically everyone in Western New York through our office computer. So I called the news room, and asked someone to look up the person's name from the passport card. We got a match, so now I had an address and phone number.
But what next? The consequences of follow-up actions are hard to follow. Will I be accused of actually doing the robbery if I call her directly? Should I suggest a meeting somewhere ... and if so, where? A neutral site?
Finally, I called a policeman across our street and told him the situation. He said for me to give him the wallet, passport, etc., and he'd take care of the rest.
"When we recover stuff like this, it's usually difficult to figure out where it should go. But you've done the hard part for us," he said.
I felt like Deputy Barney Fife, helping an innocent victim.