Monday, April 23rd, 2007...11:47 pm

The 21st Century Karma Test

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I lost my cell phone on Saturday night. Left it in a freakin cab. I realized about 10 minutes afterwards and did the whole song and dance thing of calling the phone one zillion times. No dice. That never works.

Like most technologically dependent drones, I’m a pathetic shell of my glorious self without my cell. I’ve learned to have no clue of anybody phone number (except 516-909-6544 — SON) – an obstacle I previously thought I had conquered by my sixth birthday. I missed the MS walk with friends Sunday morning and then a work outing in the park Sunday afternoon. I was so off kilter I was contemplating a new life as a luddite but didn’t think it would fit in with a livelihood in online social networking. I spent all day thinking of all the random people in my phone whose numbers would be lost forever. Sickly, I felt like a little piece of my heart had been lost with that blackberry pearl in the back seat of that taxi.

Miraculously, I received a call from Josef (not sure that is how he spells his name but think it works for this story). Apparently, Josef is an angel from Brooklyn who masquerades as a cell-phone saving taxi driver on the weekend. In his thick African accent he told me he had my phone and that I could pick it up in Brooklyn.

Today, I made the trek out to Flatbush Avenue Extended and met Josef in front of Junior’s BBQ. He returned my cell phone and wouldn’t even accept the $40 reward I offered him. He felt bad that I had to come out to Brooklyn. I had a feeling this was going to happen so my backup plan was a $20 gift card to Starbucks and I treated him to lunch. All in all, it was a great encounter.

I’ve found cell phones in cabs twice in my recent life. Both times I made the effort to return the phones. Once, my friend thought it was a lost cause and he grabbed the phone from my hand and threw it out the window as we were stopped at a red light. A guy on the street saw the phone fly out the window, ran to pick it up and gave it back to me right as the cab was about to pull away. I finally got in touch with the girl and met up with her to return the phone. I tried to explain the story and how it was fate and we were meant to meet but she just chalked me up as just another drunken cook she met out at night. Last fall, I found a phone that had Ohio State wallpaper. It was the night that Ohio State had defeated Michigan in the biggest game of the biggest rivalry of all-time. That was a stab in the back and when I spoke to the dude he figured there was no way I was giving him the phone back after I told him I went to Michigan. I poked him a few good jabs about being more upstanding than the white trash that he is used to hob-knobbing with from his alma mater. The next day he came to my office to retrieve the phone and even threw me a $20 spot.

I left my cell in a cab once before. It was in Torino at the Olympics. I had no idea I had dropped it when I received a call from the lobby at Hotel Nizza (an amazing tale within itself). The old cabdriver had found the phone, drove back to the hotel, parked and asked the front desk to buzz me. It was awesome and I couldn’t believe my good fortune. The scene could have been straight out of a Hemingway novel if he was still around today. My text messages and blog were the only things linking me to reality and who knows what continent I would be on right now if I didn’t get it back!

I guess the point I am trying to get to is that it feels great to find a phone and return it, or lose you phone and have it returned. For me, it’s up there with a pool float on a sunny afternoon, or a good book and the San Diego sunset. I’m not exactly sure why this euphoric feeling of compassion and humanity always happens in a grimy cab but it seems like that is the vessel of virtue for these random acts of kindness. Hope you all get to lose your phone and get it back from a stranger.

Here is tired and defeated message I left myself asking to get my phone back. Sometimes i have no idea what I’m thinking at 4:52 in the morning!

  • Ryan Johnson


    My name is RJ. I run the website My website lets you learn a little about Karma and also take a 4 part test to see what kind of Karma you have. I was just wondering if you would be able to put a link to my website, or post something about it. This would be a neat addition to a Karma-related website.

    Maybe your FATE depends on it… :)

    Thank You,

    Ryan Johnson