It was so obviously, cleanly and squarely placed on the sidewalk, it was begging to be picked up. So much so, that my friend Bill, who spotted the license, was concerned that perhaps it had been planted there intentionally for some nefarious reason. We found it on Washington Square North on my way my home.
I love the opportunity to do a good deed, but it was not clear what type of deed this would end up being. Undaunted as the the fool who rushes in where angels fear to tread, I picked up the driver's license* and examined the identity of the owner.
'Twas a Californian from Huntington Beach. I do love California, so this was not only an opportunity to do the right thing, but also to be an ambassador of good will and let it be known to those in the Sunshine State that New York is not a den of charlatans, thieves and ne'er-do-wells.
When arriving at my home my first priority was to do an online lookup. Nicole Dubuc was easy to find. However, in spite of an extensive website, Nicole had absolutely NO contact information whatsoever.
A whitepages.com lookup produced a Nicole Dubuc with matching address. However, in what was becoming a common occurrence, a companion website was offering additional information, including the phone number, for a charge. However, many a New Yorker refuses to pay a toll and prides him or herself on taking the free alternate road (see here). I was not going to pay for a phone number. At least not yet. And I am tenacious. But it was late. Off to bed. I would try seaching again in the morning.
On rising, I did a reverse lookup on the address instead of a name search and, voila, a phone number. I would wait a few hours until 10 AM Eastern Time before calling the California number. At 10 AM (7 AM Pacific Time), I made the call and was quite disappointed to get an answering machine. I left a detailed message, explaining that I had found the license and gave my cell phone and business numbers. I also explained that I would be carrying the license all day and would be at my office in SoHo where the owner could pick it up. Or she could arrange to pick it up after office hours.
I hoped that I had sounded as honest as possible on my message - who would believe that anyone would go through all this trouble? Why not just throw the card in an envelope and mail it back as all my coworkers suggested?
But I wanted to let Nicole know NOW that her card had been found and make unnecessary any efforts on her part to start the process of replacing her license. Also, as a traveler away from home, I was sure that a driver's license would be important.
As I ruminated during the day, an idea began to crystallize. I had visited Nicole's website and she appeared to be quite interesting. Perhaps this tale of lost and found, depending on how it played out, might make a story.
But by mid afternoon, with no returned phone call, I was beginning to have my doubts about getting Nicole's license back to her in New York City. The story was secondary. I was just ready to make a second and last phone call when, at 3:32 PM, my cellphone rang. A glance showed exactly what I was hoping for, a number with area code 714... (see part 2 here)
*For Nicole's privacy, some of the data on the license's image has been deleted.