Lost and Found
On our recent holiday our faithful old digital camera developed a fatal flaw... it refused to focus, which given the quality of my photographic skills wasn't a great problem, but in the hands of someone like my wife who takes great pains to get all kinds of weird and wonderful architectural oddities into razor-sharp focus, it is a major draw back. So, on the way back home we called in at one of those HUGE hypermarkets in Cherbourg and picked up a replacement.
Now given that any purchase by me of a technological nature, over about £5, normally only occurs after 3 months research on the internet and comparisons in various outlets, the idea of going in to a single shop and buying something cold off the shelf left me a little jittery. But we compared what was on offer, regarding price, features and brand name, and ultimately went for the up to date version of our previous 6 year old camera. As with everything technological I was astounded by how much things had progressed in that time, and how much cheaper the more modern and advanced version was than its archaic cousin, but wasn't satisfied until I got home, checked the internet and discovered that I had actually got a very good deal.
One week further on my family and I and the new camera headed off into Belfast to join the throngs of people going to see the Tall Ships. Given the horror stories about traffic and parking we took the bus, but while my family and I got off at the Lagan, the camera decided to stay on the bus... OK, I admit it, it was my fault, I was playing with my new technological toy and had set it down for a moment, when Sally suggested we get off a stop earlier tha I had intended and I forgot to lift the camera again in the rush to get to the door before the bus set off again.
It wasn't until we came into full sight of the moored ships and I put my hand in my pocket to take out the camera for the first of many anticipated shots that I realised my mistake. After arranging for the family to go on ahead of me to see the ships I set off at a jog to try and intercept the bus at the teminus or on its return journey. I was pleased that my injured calf held out, and when I arrived puffing and panting at the City Hall I found a No.20 bus sitting ready to drive off... but when the driver let me on to check the seat where we were sitting there was no sign of the camera. Ooops.
I suppose it was too much to expect, and I made my way back dejectedly to rendezvous with my family. My wife tried phoning the number on the bus ticket, but the office was closed for the evening. So we made our way round the various ships, taking photos with our mobile phones as we went, and seeing wonderful shots we would have taken with our nice new camera, if only I hadn't been an idiot and left it on the bus. It didn't spoil our night totally, but my kids at least learned that although I am hard on them when they do something daft, I am equally hard, if not harder, on myself in such situations. When we eventually got home I tortured myself by going online to find out how much it was going to cost me to replace the camera.
The next morning, however, I phoned the Lost Property Office of Translink, the bus company, and was delighted when Margaret, the lady in charge said that our camera had been handed in... Two hours later it was back safely in my hands, and we were able to use it for the Parade of Sail on Sunday afternoon. Never have I felt more like the woman and her lost coin or the shepherd with his lost sheep in Jesus' stories... Indeed I would have given the father of the prodigal son a run for his money, I was so overjoyed... There were no fatted calves devoured but if there was one handy I might just have had it for my tea.
This is, however, just a long an laborious introduction to say that my experience of Translink contrasts astoundingly with that of 9 year old Emma Lally on Ryanair... Having lost her purse purchasing some tat on a Ryanair flight from Salou, it was eventually found, but then the Scrooges in Ryanair's Lost Property Company charged her 10 of the 42 euro in her purse to get it back... Well, I suppose when a company claims to charge less than a Translink bus ticket for its air-fares, it needs to use all means at its disposal to turn a profit. But charging 10 euros to return a child's purse... Appalling.
I'm glad that it wasn't my experience with Translink... but scripture tells us that God was prepared to pay the ultimate price to redeem us when we were lost...