How should I compensate a good samaritan
January 22, 2009 8:42 AM   Subscribe

What can I do to thank the Good Samaritan that went out of their way to return my cell phone?

I lost my cell phone at a DC Metro station between the Inauguration and the Presidential Parade. Someone found it and made sure I got it back. I was able to pick it up from their workplace but had to catch a flight back home and wasn't able to properly thank them face to face.

I'd like to give some sort of personal thank you but not sure what that would entail. I was thinking about a gift basket or flowers but not sure if that's really the right path. A monetary gift not out the question but that doesn't seem to fit the bill of something personal and kind of cheapens the whole experience. Just as an example of the personal attention I received this person put their business card in my phone case with a note that said "Here's your phone. 'Yes we can!'".
posted by toomuch to Human Relations (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Something Obama-esque? Did you take any good photos during inauguration day that you could pop into a nice frame and send to the Samaritan?
posted by December at 8:48 AM on January 22, 2009

50 bucks on a gift card of some kind (Barnes & Noble?) should do it. That's what I would do.
posted by Zambrano at 8:50 AM on January 22, 2009

Give him $20 bucks or buy him a drink next time you are in DC.
posted by The1andonly at 8:50 AM on January 22, 2009

Make a donation to a charity on his/her behalf.
posted by veggieboy at 8:51 AM on January 22, 2009

Sorry I should have mentioned said Samaritan is female. The Obama-esque suggestion is exactly what I'm talking about. That keeps the "connection" open. Sadly I have no good pics.
posted by toomuch at 8:53 AM on January 22, 2009

No money, I agree. I made an effort to return a cell phone that I had found on the street and the first thing the owner said when we met was "How much?" as he took out his wallet, like I was holding it for ransom. Granted, your situation is quite different, but I was definitely insulted that the guy thought I expected money for showing some basic human decency. Is there something "regional" that you could send him? Some food item or other that your part of the country is well known for, or that is especially good where you live?
posted by otolith at 8:55 AM on January 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

I think a nice letter or note is best. A phone call might be good, but you're in danger of it being awkward and drying up after you've said 'thanks so much!" about six times. If you feel the need to go further flowers might be OK, or possibly chocolates, but anything more than that is almost certainly overdoing it, I think - and I agree money wouldn't be right.
posted by Phanx at 8:57 AM on January 22, 2009

Sadly I have no good pics

Find some on flickr (with permission)!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:01 AM on January 22, 2009

Just send a nice note. "I really appreciate you making the effort to return my phone, it really embodies the spirit I felt that day of people coming together" etc. Maybe an offer of "If you're ever in <whatever city you live in>, let me buy you a drink" - as long as you can pull this off without it seeming like a come-on.
posted by vytae at 9:05 AM on January 22, 2009

I would send a nice thank-you card and enclose a $20 gift card for Starbucks or something.
posted by chowflap at 9:08 AM on January 22, 2009

I returned a cell phone once and she picked it up from my doorman. I wasn't expecting anything but she left me a nice card and a $20 as a "let me buy you a drink" gesture.
posted by spec80 at 9:13 AM on January 22, 2009

I think flowers would be fine, if you wanted. $20 for Barnes & Noble/Starbucks/whatever would be appropriate as well. But a thank-you card is really the most important thing to do.
posted by desuetude at 9:20 AM on January 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

Send their boss a nice letter? Someone found my wallet in a cab and went to the trouble of tracking me down via my dad's business card (in my wallet) and then FedExing it to me. I offered to donate to a charity of his choice on his behalf, but he asked me to just write a nice letter to his boss. (He worked in security services at a large convention center; I left my wallet in the cab between the convention center and the train station.) I wrote a very nice letter, and received a nice note back from the boss, thanking me for letting him know and implying that this would be remembered (in a good way) on this guy's file.

I think going out of your way to do something nice for a stranger, or a few people, would be a nice gesture.
posted by min at 9:48 AM on January 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

i did this once for someone and when i met her to give her the phone she handed me a card with an iTunes gift card for like $15 inside. Was completely unexpected but I thought it was very nice. Don't go overboard. $50 is too much.
posted by nomad73 at 10:25 AM on January 22, 2009

What about an Obama mug (the tackier the better) and a Starbucks giftcard)? That way she'll have a permanent reminder of the day, and your gratitude.
posted by dogsbody at 10:50 AM on January 22, 2009

If you have their address, perhaps you could write to the White House greetings office explaining what happened, and they could send a photo of the President.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:51 AM on January 22, 2009 [6 favorites]

A friend of mine sent me a Fruit Flowers basket, as a thank-you for some help. This was so much fun (and lovely fruit). The best kind of thank-you is an edible gift!
posted by Susurration at 12:14 PM on January 22, 2009

When I returned a lost handy I received a Peet's gift card for like $40!
Unexpected, and much appreciated (unlike a charitable donation, which IMO is all about making the giver feel good about him- or herself, but doesn't actually do anything for the "recipient").
posted by Rash at 2:06 PM on January 22, 2009

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