My reproduction 1980’s digital wrist-watch counts its way towards 5pm, and closing time.
I watch the watch.
The sooner it gets there the sooner I can leave. The sooner I can leave the sooner I can forget all about my work and all my obligations to other people.
I already have a list in mind of what to do with my time this evening. Nothing exciting, go to the gym (maybe), do the supermarket shopping (definitely), have dinner, play some computer games, watch some TV. The life of a middle-aged bachelor.
Time to start closing up the office. I make my way around the office, closing the blinds and turning of the equipment. At the front counter the only other staff still on duty are packing up their bags.
I wish them both a good night and lock the door behind them as they leave. With everyone else gone and the office locked up there was no real reason for my to actually stay until 5pm. Early mark for a change.
Something out of the corner of my eye doesn’t look right, I glance from the wristwatch to the ugly blue chair in the office vestibule.
The chair was always ugly, and always blue, neither detail had caught my attention, but only highlighted the thing that should not have been there. Sitting on the seat cushion of the ugly blue chair was a small grey rectangle that was just the right size and shape to be an iPhone.
Despite my own iPhone not looking like that I pat my trousers pocket to double check my phone is still there. It is.
I reach down and pick up the lost phone and turn it over in my hand slowly. Current model. In a grey leather Prada case. Expensive and showy.
It doesn’t belong to any of the staff, I know what their phones are, and this isn’t it. That could only mean that a customer must have left it behind. And now, because I found it, it was my problem.
I walk back to my desk and set the phone down next to my keyboard. A quick flick through the phones setting and address book suggests that the phone’s owner is someone called ‘Pam’. But she has no other listed contact number.
Not yet ready to start calling random people in the phones address book, the only course of action is to wait and hope the owner re-traces her steps, or calls.
Great. That means if it rings I’ll have to answer it. How does one answer a phone that isn’t there’s?
So much for leaving early today.
I recheck my emails and the local news websites, killing time in the hope that the owner of the phone will call.
The phone rings, playing a pop song I do not know.
I press the green ‘answer call’ button as I lift the phone to my ear.
“Hi, can I talk to Pam?” asks a female voice.
“She’s not here, I found her phone, but don’t know how to get in touch with her and tell her.” I reply.
There is a pause.
“Okay, I’ll try calling one of her friends and letting her know.”
She asks me where I work and I realise I’m going to have to stay around until closing time now, just incase the mysterious Pam shows up to collect her phone.
That did not help. More waiting. More killing time.
The phone rings again. I answer it, again.
“Who’s this? Can I talk to Pam?” asks a male voice.
“I’m Simon, I found this phone, I think Pam must have left it behind in my office.”
“Simon? Where do you work? What was Pam doing there?”
Useless questions. However this guy is, I don’t like him already. Why would he ask that sort of stuff? Knowing how and why the phone ended up in my office won’t help me get it back to its owner.
“Er, I don’t know. I just found it.”
He pauses again.
“I’m her boyfriend, Ted. Pam doesn’t have a landline.” He tells me. At least this is partially relevant information. “Can you hold onto the phone so I can get it off you? When do you close?”
“In 10 minutes, I’m in Newtown, where are you?”
“Canberra.” He replies. Not close, not even in the same city. “I’ll be in Sydney in about 45 minutes. Can I come get it off you then?”
Oh crap. Now what do I do. Stay at work an extra hour just to hand some blonde bimbo’s phone back to her boo?
He picks up on my hesitation. “It’s really important. Where will you be in 45 minutes?”
Shopping for dinner at the local supermarket? Images of trying to arrange a clandestine meeting with a strange guy in the middle of an underground supermarket flash through my mind.
“Home I guess, Kings Cross.”
“Can call you when I’m near by and come by and get it?” He made it sound like it wasn’t a question.
It occurs to me that I have no idea who this guy really is. Is he Pam’s boyfriend? Should I trust him and give him the phone? I don’t even know what he looks like. I don’t know what Pam looks like either. His name did come up on the screen with caller ID when the phone rang. He at least is someone she knows.
I must have taken too long to answer again. “Come on mate, its important, you just go about what ever you were going to do and I’ll come to you.”
“Sure I guess.” I find myself saying.
“Okay, see you soon.”
“Okay, um, bye.”
The line goes dead and I look at the phone wondering what the hell I’ve gotten myself into now.
With a foolhardy plan in place there is no more point in my hanging around the office. I grab my shoulder bag, put the fond phone in and leave, locking the office door behind me.
As I walk to the train station I reach into my bag and set Pam’s phone to silent. Plans have been made. I don’t need to answer any more calls and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let that ring tone go off again while I’m on the train.
The train ride home is a little behind schedule and I hear the phone buzz a few times in my bag, but ignore it, what could I say anyway? “Hi, I’m on a train with Pam’s phone, I found it and thought it would be good to take it home with me.” No, just let the go to her voice mail, she can sort all that shit out later.
As I walk down my street I look at the phone screen and see that there is a missed call from the boyfriend, Ted. I should call him back. I wait until I get inside my front door so I can at least have the conversation in privet.
I ring him.
“Hi Ted here.” Guess he doesn’t use caller ID.
“Hi Ted, its Simon, with Pam’s phone. I just got home.”
“Oh, right, I was just in your area, I’m at Edge Cliff now, can be back your way in a few minutes. Where abouts are you?”
I give him my address and try not to think about the scenario where Ted turns out to be a serial killer and this is all an elaborate trap.
“Okay, see you in 5 minutes.”
The line goes dead.
Again I look at the phone and then look around my small apartment. Whoever this guy is I don’t want to have to deal with him in my house, I don’t want to have to offer him a drink and make small talk for the minimum socially allowed 6.54 minutes.
But if I’m waiting outside? I don’t know what he looks like. Doesn’t matter, it’s a small building and he will be the one that doesn’t know where he is going.
I actually nod to myself, feeling like the plan is under my control since first picking up the phone and I go back down the stairs and into the street to wait for a guy I don’t know.
The little street I live on is quiet, the sun setting slowly as people arrive home from work. I stand around trying to look casual while trying to check on everyone that approaches my building.
I’m bored and he hasn’t show up yet.
A large expensive looking car pulls up and parks nearby. A large expensive looking man gets out and looks around. He seems to be looking at the addresses, which catches my attention. He is mid 30’s, hair shaved close, 5 o’clock shadow. He turns as walks away, from me. Maybe he’s not the guy. His suit and the body underneath seem a contrast, I’d bet he played football at college and is not a real-estate agent or some other profession that requires people to look better than they are.
He walks back up the street towards me, looking at house numbers and his phone.
I take Pam’s phone out of my pocket as he looks over towards me.
“Ted?” I ask.
He nods. “Yeah.”
I hold out the phone and he takes it. “This is yours then.”
“Thanks for this mate, you’re a life saver.”
I smile and shrug.
“I’m just glad to get this off my hands.”
He frowns and if I’d said the dumbest thing possible. Maybe I had.
“Anyway, see you around.” I say to him, hoping he takes the hint to leave.
“Yeah see you.” And with that he turns and goes back to his car.
As I’m walking up the stairs to my flat it occurs to me that I don’t even know if that was the same guy I was talking to on the phone.