So we didn’t report everything that happened during our trip overseas. It would have been too embarrassing if it hadn’t eventually turned out well.
We were on the train from Edinburgh to London, when Dona began to wonder where she’d packed her engagement ring (she was wearing the wedding ring). It must have been in one of her bags, she thought. But after we checked into our hotel she searched, and couldn’t find it. We went through every piece of luggage at least twice, but to no avail.
She only had a fuzzy memory of where it might have been in the Edinburgh hotel room; perhaps it was knocked to the floor when she packed. She called the hotel and spoke to a desk person; had them search the room. Even offered a reward. But they said they couldn’t find it. All we could imagine was that either the next guest or housekeeping had discovered it and assumed a windfall. Bad karma, Dona said. May bad karma follow this person.
In the meantime, she was devastated by the loss. She’d wake up in the middle of the night worrying about it, wondering if there was any way it might still be found. But we continued our trip in London and Paris, and flew home without hearing. The ring was lost. We’d have to start saving for a replacement. The jeweler where I’d had it made in Los Angeles was still operating. He might have the specs, and someday we might be able to recreate it.
In the current cultural climate of animosity and extremism, of distrust and greed, there are still some people who choose to live by a different set of values, a path that includes honesty and selflessness. A couple of weeks after we got home, Dona received an email from the Edinburgh hotel: someone had found the ring. It was another couple, who in their hurry to catch a flight, couldn’t find the hotel staff and didn’t have time to contact the local police, and so took it with them. It had slipped under the little mat that lines the bottom of the room safe.
When this man and his wife finished their travels and returned home to southern California, they posted a message on the lost/found section of multiple platforms, including Reddit, Tripadvisor, and Craigslist. Many people responded and tried to convince the man to send it their way without proof of ownership (see above under greed, and thank goodness he asked each responder to send a picture of the ring). When that didn’t work he contacted the Edinburgh hotel, which in turn contacted Dona.
Finding a picture of the ring wasn’t easy. But she remembered one I’d taken last year when we visited some wineries in Oregon. Yes, there was Dona holding a glass of wine with the ring in view. We opened the image in Photoshop, cropped it down, blew it up, sent it on, and prayed.
The picture was just good enough to ID the ring. The man asked only that we reimburse him for the overnight shipping cost. When we offered to buy him a gift certificate to a local restaurant, he declined. As he put it, “Knowing that we were able to bring joy to someone else is more than enough for my wife and I.”
The ring arrived a few days ago. Dona has not taken it off since. We still think about what happened, and probably will for some time. We think a lot about all the people who tried to claim the ring for themselves, and how lucky we were that someone other than those people found it.
It’s these little things that seem to matter more in life than the big ones: knowing that a stranger might be honest, that some people can sympathize with another’s loss, that not everyone is only interested in what and how much they can possess. You read about the greedy ones, the angry ones, the self-entitled almost everyday; they’re the ones who make the news and drive our culture. Dona and I like to believe, though, that they are not the many, but the few. When things work out like this we think maybe we are right.