I was having lunch in a nice cafe today with both my daughters – a rare pleasure these days since Child 1 is at uni and Child 2 is *supposed* to be too busy with revision to leave her desk for an instant – when a man on the next door table leant over and said, “excuse me, could you watch my laptop for a minute?” Barely waiting for a response, he sauntered away, leaving his £700-plus Apple AirBook unattended on a now-empty table for two.
We, or more accurately I, then had to spend the next ten minutes chatting with one eye monitoring a total stranger’s casually abandoned possession, before he wandered back. We had finished eating, and I wanted to leave, but I felt we couldn’t as this man’s stuff had been left in our care.
What on earth is this about? Why did he feel it was completely ok to leave a total stranger with his (presumably) treasured laptop?
The exact same thing happened to me about a month ago when I was eating in a similar cafe in London before going to the theatre. This time, I was with a friend of about the same age (ok, two years younger) who was quick-witted enough to say a forthright NO when asked by a girl in her early twenties if we’d keep an eye on her equally pricey Apple laptop. The girl seemed pretty peeved and took her laptop with her with rather a grumpy expression.
But, excuse me? How can you lumber someone you don’t know at all with such an expensive item to watch over? I may look like a lovely reliable middle-aged lady and thanks – I suppose – for thinking I have a trustworthy face but:
1. I could be an internationally wanted laptop thief just waiting to run off with idiots’ computers; and
2. Why on earth should middle-aged ladies have to look after your stuff? It’s yours, not mine.
It’s another one of those generational things, as Child 1 and Child 2 saw nothing bizarre at all in this. For them, it was just karma – we should look after someone else’s things just because it’s nice, and because we might want someone to do this for us one day. Well fair enough, I suppose, but I think looking after your expensive equipment is your own responsibility. What if someone had stolen the guy’s laptop today while we were supposed to be keeping an eye on it? Would he then have considered us liable for the theft? I’ve told my daughters absolutely never to burden other people with their laptops under any circumstances (and if they do, and the person runs off with their kit, I shall not be sympathetic).
For the record, don’t come up to me in a cafe and ask me to look after your laptop, your phone, your bag, your anything. It’s yours, and I don’t want anything to do with it. But thanks, and do have a really extra specially lovely day*
*for the sake of karma!