The bus was late and it was crowded. Maybe it was late because it was crowded, because there were so many people getting on. Or maybe it was crowded because it was late, all these people having missed a different bus. It’s one of those chicken-and-egg questions although chickens and eggs aren’t allowed on the bus. The bus stopped and a woman sitting opposite me got off. She’d been sitting right on the aisle even though the window seat next to her was, I thought, empty. After she got off I looked over and there was a purse, gold with maroon polka dots, in the window seat. And I hesitated, which I still regret. The thought Hey, she went off and left her purse, went through my head, but I didn’t jump up and yell “Stop the bus!” and maybe that’s a good thing because the bus wasn’t moving. When I looked out I saw the woman walking away with a big purse slung over her shoulder. So it wasn’t her purse, but it was someone’s purse.
I watched a man get on and take her seat, next to the purse, leaving it its own seat as though it were another passenger.
Then he got off and the purse stayed behind. I wondered if I should pick it up. Men don’t usually carry purses although I’ve noticed more and more guys with messenger bags or shoulder bags. I have one with a raven on it composed of words from Poe’s poem and it’s sparked a few conversations, but that’s another story. Anyway I wasn’t going to take the purse off the bus—it clashed with my outfit—but I did think about going through it to see if I could find any identification, some way to get it back to its owner. There were still a lot of people on the bus. Would they get what I was doing? And I even wondered if we were on camera, if this was a test to see what people would do. And what should I do?
In the end I moved the purse up to the spot next to the door where people often leave bags of groceries, umbrellas, and other things and told the driver someone left it behind. She said she’d keep an eye on it. I left and yet even now I wonder if there was something more I could have done.


Facebook Comments


  1. Ann Koplow

    You did the right thing and the write thing, Chris, and I thank you for all of that.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      After being pursued by uncertainty for so many days I appreciate the reassurance you offered that I was both right and write on.

  2. The Orangutan Librarian

    I think you did the right thing- if you leave lost property on the bus, people can pick it up at the bus depot (usually)
    Besides you can’t have it clashing with your outfit 😉

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      When it comes to accessories I try to keep it simple. That way when I go to the depot to try and retrieve my lost umbrella and I’m asked to describe it I can say, “It’s black” and take my pick of a dozen or so.
      I also appreciate the reassurance that I did the right thing.

  3. Jay

    I agree, it’s the bus driver’s responsibility, and you turned it in.
    Twice I lost cell phones on the bus and twice they were returned to me by passengers.
    Once I apparently lost birth control and the bus company went out of their way to contact me.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Now I’m puzzling over how someone would know a cell phone was yours, although I’ve just discovered I can tell my phone “Call home”.
      Anyway it’s nice that the bus company recognized the priority of birth control.

  4. Allison

    My sweet mother was coming home from the ATL airport and left one of her bags on the MARTA train. She reported it, but I’d assume it’s gone with the wind. It had a few pieces of costume jewelry, dirty underwear and her pills – the only ones of any worth were a two week supply of Ativan. I kind of feel like whoever got the bag was pretty surprised by the breadth of contents.

    When I first started carrying a purse, I was bad to leave it places. Now, I rarely carry a purse because it’s a pain.

    All of this to say, you did the right thing. I probably would have looked for ID, but as you say, with lots of curious eyeballs, that might not look on the level…

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Sometimes I wonder how many lost items never get looked into by anyone. It seems like a lot of lost items probably get trashed, especially if their contents are easily replaced, although it’s possible someone who’d appreciate the Ativan found your mother’s bag.


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