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Good people do still exist!
November 26, 2012 10:00 AM   Subscribe

A good human being is returning my lost iPhone and declining the posted reward. What's a good way to thank him?

I lost my phone on a business trip across the country a week ago. I'd pretty much written it off, but today a nice gentleman contacted me at the number I'd posted on the "Lost Phone" message on the screen to return it. I had offered a $100 reward in the message (if you're unfamiliar, iCloud lets you lock your phone and post a message on its screen so that anyone who finds it can contact you), but he declined.

I will be sending him a prepaid FedEx envelope to send the phone back across the country to me. I'd like to send him a token of my appreciation, but opinions are divided as to what I should send:

a) I would go for sending him the $100 in the form of a gift card (Amazon, or some restaurant in his area);
b) my boyfriend suggested $50 so it doesn't look like I'm ignoring his statement declining the reward;
c) if either of these seem a little too over the top, any alternate suggestions would be appreciated. It would have to be cost-effective to ship across the country.

Thanks in advance - the general goodwill I'm now feeling towards all humanity extends to you all!
posted by dynamiiiite to Society & Culture (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Don't send him a gift card -- he doesn't want a reward. (b) is ignoring that too.

Could you ask him what his favourite charity is, and fire off the $100 in that direction?
posted by kmennie at 10:03 AM on November 26, 2012 [15 favorites]


This is anecdata - I once found a wallet with a lot of money in it, tracked down the owner, and retuned it. They offered many times over to pay me something, I rejected. It got annoying (genuinely) after a while.

So - please honor his wish. Along with the Fed-Ex envelope, send along a hand-written note of gratitude.
posted by Fig at 10:06 AM on November 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


The home country of the gentleman definitely affects this answer - in some, it would be indescribably rude to send a reward after it was refused. In others, it would be rude not to.

Absent any specific cultural knowledge, I would say that a hand-written note of specific gratitude is never amiss.
posted by muddgirl at 10:07 AM on November 26, 2012


A nice Hallmark-type "thank you" card, with a handwritten note saying how great it is that people are still kind to strangers even as the world is getting bigger and weirder.

Also/alternatively, picture postcards of your home city.
posted by aimedwander at 10:07 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think you write him a very nice note thanking him for his kindness in returning your phone and how helpful it will be for you to get it back.

And that is more than enough.
posted by zizzle at 10:07 AM on November 26, 2012


I returned a necklace to a lady who lost it. It was both valuable and hugely sentimental to her, and she wanted to give me *something*. I told her the best thing she could do was to think of me the next time she had the opportunity to do something really nice for someone. I like having that out in the universe.
posted by ersatzkat at 10:09 AM on November 26, 2012 [21 favorites]


note of sincere thanks should do it.

include your iphone in some sort of over-the-top "family christmas photo" or touristy, coupley photo or something and send it to him to express how much you love it and appreciate its safe return.

owe him a favor - let him know any access to special privileges you have (timeshare somewhere? tickets to something notable? guest room in your home if it is somewhere interesting?) and tell him to let you know if you can ever return the favor.
posted by R a c h e l at 10:09 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


please honor his wish. Along with the Fed-Ex envelope, send along a hand-written note of gratitude.

You could include in your thank-you the idea that you'll be on the lookout for opportunities to pay his kindness forward.
posted by headnsouth at 10:10 AM on November 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


I would be tempted to mention in the note that the money budgeted for the reward had been donated to the Red Cross (or another charity).
posted by ambient2 at 10:20 AM on November 26, 2012


Do not send a cash or giftcard reward, because he refused it. Send a handwritten thank you note, describing how relieved you were, how getting your phone back made your life easier, how he brightened your day, how you intend to pay it forward (if you do).

After you receive the phone back, you could text or mail him picture of you holding your phone and a sign that says "thank you! you are awesome" or something like that.
posted by insectosaurus at 10:23 AM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Having been in his position, and also declining a reward, I can tell you a bit selfishly that a reward cheapens the good deed a little bit. It would have made it seem less, I don't know, just less. A nice handwritten note and a promise to pay it forward sounds like it would be perfect.
posted by mrs. taters at 10:29 AM on November 26, 2012 [14 favorites]


After you receive the phone back, you could text or mail him picture of you holding your phone and a sign that says "thank you! you are awesome" or something like that.

This is --great--.
posted by DWRoelands at 10:29 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Send him a nice card thanking him. I once returned a phone to someone who had had it stolen (I bought it on craigslist and discovered it was stolen, used the contacts to call the owner, and mailed it at my expense back). When I called the owner, I was accused of being the thief (despite living 200 miles away) and received several vituperative calls between mailing the phone back and the owner receiving it.

She received it (I sent it with a tracking option) and I kept expecting her to call, text, or mail me an apology or just a thank you for returning her phone. Never heard from her again.

So, a simple thank you note could be really meaningful.
posted by arnicae at 10:31 AM on November 26, 2012


homemade cookies are a good thank you present that's not expensive but shows a good chunk of time/appreciation went into making them.
posted by saraindc at 10:32 AM on November 26, 2012


man. nothing? not even a token gift? I feel bad, but I will trust the wisdom of hives.

(also, arnicae, what an awful person.)
posted by dynamiiiite at 10:38 AM on November 26, 2012


homemade cookies are a good thank you present that's not expensive but shows a good chunk of time/appreciation went into making them.

Call me paranoid, but I would never eat cookies - home made or otherwise - given to me by someone I don't know. Same goes for any food items from strangers. I guess the whole "don't take candy from strangers" thing from when I was a kid really sunk in.

A photo of you looking REALLY HAPPY holding your phone and a nice letter thanking them would be great. And a promise to pay their kindness forward. Maybe promise to leave that reward money as a tip to a worth person who is working hard and doing a good job.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:41 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'd argue that a hand-written thank-you letter/card is more than nothing.
posted by Fig at 10:42 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


man. nothing? not even a token gift? I feel bad, but I will trust the wisdom of hives.

This is about his wishes. You shouldn't inflict your will on someone. He said no reward, so a thank you must suffice.

Don't feel bad. If it were me, I'd feel good that goodness exists in this world for goodness' sake alone.
posted by inturnaround at 10:55 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


When it was a local that found my phone, I dropped off a six pack of good beer and store-bought cookies. So a little tasty food present from a good mail order place like Zingermann's might be ok. But the card and paying-it-forward thing seemed to be Most appreciated, really!
posted by ldthomps at 11:26 AM on November 26, 2012


I returned a wallet that I found on the street once with all the money still inside it*. The guy was a little combative on the phone when I told him I had his wallet, so I had him meet me on a very public street corner. When he saw the money still in the wallet, the relief on his face was palpable. He simply would not let me walk away without him giving me $100. Fine, that was nice, but the best part was the next day, when I got the nicest text message ever from him saying he had forgotten there were good people in the world and that I had restored his faith in people, NYC, etc... I really wish I had saved that text message somewhere, as I no longer have it, but that was definitely way better than any monetary reward.

* - Who carries around $3,000 in their wallet?!?
posted by Grither at 11:54 AM on November 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah, just assume that the guy is a kazillionaire and doesn't need your $100 bucks. I love the idea of a fabulous card with a heartfelt message, or asking him what charity he'd like to you to donate to, however. It gives him a chance to do something nice, twice.
posted by anitanita at 12:53 PM on November 26, 2012


This is going to sound a little weird and jaded, but on some level this guy is buying into a fantasy. The fantasy is that he is a Good Person. And what a Good Person would do is be super awesome, return the precious item, and refuse the award. Your reward or compensation kills the fantasy. Or, at the very least, calls their good person status into question, and they are put in the awkward position of resisting temptation of accepting your gift in an even exchange of thing-for-thing (even if the exchange is not very tempting at all...they will still have to go through the repeated motion of refusing it). Your acceptance of the wallet without attempt at recompense implicitly validates their Good Person status and preserves the fantasy without ever making it an on-record "thing". This is why paying it forward works. The fantasy is preserved and the urge to exchange thing-for-thing gets passed onto someone else, which allows you to be a Good Person too.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:18 PM on November 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


iamkimiam is absolutely right, though that is kind of a hostly clinical way to put it. By forcing a reward on the good doer you would indeed be stealing something from them, not something everyone values or is even really that tangible, but something very real to many.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:06 PM on November 26, 2012


If he has rejected the reward, ask him if there's a charity or a cause he likes that you could donate to.
posted by rmd1023 at 2:59 PM on November 26, 2012


One evening at work I found a gold ring with an amethyst in it. So I took it to the person in the department that did lost and found duties. And then I went back to doing what I was doing and forgot all about it.

A week later I found a card on my desk when I got it. Inside was a long handwritten note. It turns out that the ring belongs to an older lady and had a ton of sentimental value, being a gift from her kids many years ago. She thought she had lost it for good and was happy beyond words to have it back.

That note made my day more than any reward ever could have. So I'm throwing my vote in with the folks that say a nice handwritten note (and perhaps picture) would be appropriate.
posted by azpenguin at 7:36 PM on November 26, 2012


Is everyone who thinks they are a Good Person fantasizing? How about good with a small 'g'?
posted by Kiwi at 2:07 AM on November 27, 2012


No, I don't think they are fantasizing. I was being over-the-top, hyperbolic, to belabor a point. Or as, Blasdelb aptly put, hostly clinical. :)
posted by iamkimiam at 3:22 AM on November 27, 2012


A thank you card saying how much you appreciate his humanity & how grateful you are, would more than suffice. Also a nod to play it forward could be good.

Perhaps sending him a holiday card the next time one comes around, would be a nice gesture that says you're still grateful of his honesty, & it's overall effect on you.
posted by readygo at 12:51 PM on November 28, 2012


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