Monday, January 28, 2008

Lesson Well Learned

When we came back from our trip to Melbourne over the holidays, we were so tired from the plane ride with the 2 kids that we decided to hop on a taxi at the airport and come straight home. After plunking all our stuff down, we settled in and started getting the kids to bed. By that time it was almost an hour since we arrived home. It was also at that moment that we realized we had left my Samsonite hand carry in the trunk of the taxi!

I quickly mentally assessed what I had in the hand-carry and was relieved to know that there wasn't anything majorly important. Thank god I took out Boy Wonder's blankie while in the plane and he held on to it from then on. The only thing I thought might have been an issue was his favorite water bottle. But after handing him a replacement bottle, but of a different shape, he settled in well enough and went to bed.

After the kids went off to bed, I went to the lobby, asked the lobby guard to find out what the license plate number of our taxi was and proceeded to call the 24 hour lost items hot line for taxis. I gave the description of what was lost, gave the license plate number of the taxi and hoped for the best. I felt that since we broadcasted the license plate of the taxi, surely the driver would easily hear it and call us back. But of course he didn't. 2 days later I called the hotline again and added a $200 reward if our luggage was returned. I thought surely this time it would work! In the meantime I had no idea what else we could do. I had not heard of any happy stories of taxi drivers returning stuff left on their taxi's before, so in a way I had accepted the fact that we have lost our luggage forever.

Then Hubby suggested I call all the taxi companies in the yellow pages. He said we have the license plate number. How difficult would it be to call the 50+ numbers on the half page of a phone directory. I thought it was silly at first, but after 1 week of waiting I was annoyed at this inconsiderate taxi driver and wanted to hunt him down. So for 2 mornings, I sat there and literally called every single number under "taxi" in the yellow pages.

Although calling all these numbers did nothing to hunt the driver down, I learned a few things about taxis. It turns out there is more than one hotline you can call when you leave something in a taxi. All offer a free service of sending out a broadcast to the taxis that a certain item was left behind. But other than this, it turns out if you have the license plate number and are desperate enough, you can pay a hefty fee for them to actually trace the owner of the cab. They don't guarantee you'll get your stuff back, but they can call the owner for you.

Not wanting to give money to a bunch of scammers, I realized if they could find out the owner of the taxi with the license plate number then that means such information is publicly accessible information. I quickly called the Land & Transportation Department and soon found out that for a fee of $35, they will give you the name of the owner of the taxi and the contact number. I just had to go to their office in Admiralty to get it done. I quickly called Hubby and told him to drop by there if he had the time since he was so close. He said he'll try to do it the next day.

And during my 280 million calls to the taxi companies, I was also asked whether we had reported our lost luggage to the police. We never did, because I thought frankly, what use would that do? Hubby lost his wallet and HK ID a few times and we reported it everytime with no results. Reporting our lost luggage I felt was a waste of time. But by then I felt what is there to loose anyways so I got on line and reported it.

And can you believe it??? A few hours later I get a call from the police department confirming the details I had entered! The lady on the phone said she will contact the owner of the taxi and get back to me. I was speechless. She called me not soon after and said she was able to speak to the taxi driver. He vaguely remembers dropping us off at our apartment but has no idea what happened to our luggage. Bullocks! Of course he knows! But hey, its been over a week by then. It's anyone's guess where it was at that point. I thanked the lady and hung up.

At that point I didn't know whether to be amazed, angry or frustrated. Probably all. I was amazed at the efficiency of the police department. Who would have known they would actually contact the taxi for you if you had the license plate number. I need to preach that to everyone in HK! ALWAYS get the license plate number of your taxi. You'll never know when you might need it. I was also angry because surely the taxi driver would have realized sooner or later that someone had left their luggage in the trunk of his taxi! He just didn't care and either kept it himself or let someone else take it. I was also frustrated mainly at myself for not reporting the lost luggage sooner. If only I knew!

Well at least that was a lesson well learned. I will always take note of the license plate number of the taxi I'm on or get a receipt no matter what before getting off from now on!

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