Turn It In or Keep It?

If you found someone’s wallet or purse, and it had a bunch of money it it, what would you do? Would you swipe the money and ditch the wallet? Would you turn it in and keep the money? Or would you make a reasonable effort to try and find the owner and return it, all funds intact? That’s the age old question, isn’t it? Comes down to what you would like someone to do if you were the one who’d lost the wallet full of cash, right? And really, that’s what, to me, this whole stupid story about Apple and Gizmodo boils down to.

In case you haven’t heard, a software engineer working for Apple had a prototype of their next generation iPhone with him at a bar, supposedly for field testing, while celebrating his birthday. He accidentally left it behind when he left the bar; this article tells the whole story. He never got it back, and some weeks later it shows up in the possession of Gizmodo, a tech site that subsequently shared all the details on the phone they could glean from it.

Of course in certain segments of the news this is a certifiable Big Deal, because people tend to go ape shit over new generations of phones, especially stuff coming out from Apple, a company notoriously tight-lipped about what they are working on. Throw in that while all this is going on there is a big slapfight going on among geeks about Apple not supporting Adobe’s Flash on their devices — the Deity Known as Steve Jobs has even weighed in on it personally — and it’s been a crazy week for Apple diehards and the people who hate them.

I’m not one of those Apple freaks. I have enough problems with my little Mac that I don’t buy into all the “Apple just works better” hype. Nor am I particularly loyal to PCs either. I hate all of this kind of technology equally. Nothing makes my rage spike quite like stupid computer problems. I swear, if our cars or coffee makers were so goddamn unreliable there would be riots in the streets. And I don’t have the interest to try and learn all the open source stuff like Linux. I’d rather spend my money on a handmade tomahawk than some piece of tech fluff, you know? And I’m sure as hell never going to be one of those guys walking around with various pieces of gadgetry holstered on my belt. Geeks, jesus.

When it comes to phones, I want one that I can call people on and send a few text messages here and there (like, when I just crawl into bed in my basement lair and the cat appears in the window well over my head, I can text my kid “hey, let the cat in or I’ll come up there and kick your ass)(Of course it takes me longer to key that in than it would to just let the little friggin’ beast in myself, but at least I don’t have to get off my lazy ass to do it). Email was nice while I was carrying a Blackberry for a while, but it didn’t justify the extra cost, not even close, so I (gasp!) downgraded.

I have a slight interest in things like the iPad, or even the Kindle, or other gadgets of their ilk, because I feel as a reader and (sort of) writer I should have an opinion about e-books that is not simply a knee-jerk reaction of loathing. But even that isn’t that big of a deal. My mom has a Nook that I’ll check out, and my friend Toni just got an iPad that I’ll be able to look at at some point. Regardless, I don’t see myself with the extra scratch to buy anything like that in the near future anyway, so it’s kind of a moot point.

Other people care about this stuff — a lot — and I’m not here to point and laugh at their interests. My curiosity was based on being interested in people pulling some kind of caper. I was hoping to learn of some dude going ninja and rappelling into the Apple compound to swipe the thing, but that obviously didn’t happen. Nor did some hot femme fatale slip the hapless developer a mickey in order to walk off with his tech, or otherwise distract him while he was engaged in his evening out.

Unfortunately, from what I’ve read it doesn’t seem like anything illegal even happened here. In fact, it looks like it comes down to one guy who just happens to be a dick.

That guy’s name is Brian J. Hogan. Hogan is the guy who found the iPhone at the bar, and ultimately sold it to Gizmodo for $5000. You can check out his whole sordid little story at the link, but this part is crucial:

Initial reports had it that the man who’d taken the iPhone tried repeatedly to call the Apple Care support line to return the phone, but according to the statement in the Wired story, Hogan never personally called Apple, although a friend of his offered to. The owners of the bar where the iPhone was lost also told Wired that Hogan never bothered to call them about the lost hardware, although the anguished Apple engineer who mislaid the iPhone “returned several times” to see if it had turned up.

Followed up by this:

Hogan has now lawyered up, and in a statement released through his attorney, the young man says he “regrets his mistake in not doing more to return the phone,” and that he thought his $5,000 deal with Gizmodo was only “so that they could review the phone,” Wired reports.

Say what you want about the guy who lost the phone in the first place. It was something stupid, but we’ve all done it. Hell, I’ve left credit cards behind a couple times in restaurants when I’ve been on the road. I left a jacket in a rental car once. I can’t count the number of sunglasses I’ve left on tables around the country. Who hasn’t done the same with phone chargers or things like that? One moment of absent-mindedness can lead to a situation like this for anyone, and we all do it. What about the person who sets their wallet down somewhere, with rent money inside, and is royally screwed if they don’t get it back?

My opinion of this Hogan guy is that he’s a tool, period. He saw an opportunity to profit on some other guy’s misfortune and went for it. In the meantime, the guy trying to recover his phone was probably stressed to no end about maybe losing his job, another guy had his house raided by the cops as a result, and the ongoing domino effect of media coverage and bluster has blown what should have been a simple lost and found case into a frenzy. All because this guy saw an opportunity to make a buck, and decided to go for it rather than do the right thing. What a jackass.

It’s as simple as that.

5 thoughts on “Turn It In or Keep It?”

  1. >Interesting.On a personal level, I would like to think that I would return a wallet full of money. I do it for other things that I might find, so why not that.With this guy, that took a lot of balls. And apparently, few brain cells were used in the process. Hope he enjoys that 5K because it's gonna cost him at least 10 times that much to fix this mess to where the pain won't be too great.

  2. >I'm pretty sure I'd turn in whatever I'd found. This guy, though, obviously had plenty of time to think about what he was doing and still made the wrong move. I just have a real problem with that.

  3. >Turn it in. No question. Right and wrong aren't relative, honest is honest.From your write-up, I'm not so sure your as low-tech as you think you are, Chris. That "and text a few people" is the giveaway. Real Men don't text…

  4. >Richard, you're definitely on to me about the texting. I held out for a loooong time, believe me. Which is why, to tip the balance back in my manly favor, when I eat nails for breakfast I don't sissy them up with sugar or anything.

  5. >Ha ! Good one, Chris. I guess if someday I get a cell phone I may have to learn how to use it for something besides, uh, talking to people using my voice.

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