A woman that I didn’t know, sent me a short message on my Facebook Business Page asking if I could chat. Susan went on to say that she found my Teresa J Sharp business card in a backpack on a street in San Francisco. The only clues to who the owner of the backpack might be was a day planner with no name, some info implying this person was a student in Canada and my business card and postcards. I was leery at first. There are so many scams out there I proceeded with caution.
I told Susan that we run a vacation rental in portions of our home here in Oakhurst, CA and it was likely that one of our guests had my business card and postcards in their backpack. Many of the guests who come stay with us to visit Yosemite also visit San Francisco before or after being at our place. I had a vague memory of a guest mentioning they were from Canada…but I couldn’t remember for sure which one.
With our Miss Marple frame of mind the two of us continued to try to figure out which of my recent guests might have lost a backpack in the City. The day planner had details about the trip with plans to drive down to LA before flying back to Canada. That also sounded familiar. While I searched through my Airbnb records and looked at messages between me and our guests, Susan complimented my artwork and told me she is a jewelry designer (suebdesigns.com) and renders those designs in gouache (similar to my watercolor paintings). We shared photos of some of our recent work and links to our websites.
This was now starting to feel very serendipitous as my husband and I have a business (and life philosophy) called Live Create Connect which is all about being fully alive, creating and connecting with others who want to do the same.
I sent messages to our last couple of guests to see if they had lost a backpack and was ready to turn in for the night when Susan mentioned the date and time that the owner of the backpack had flown into San Francisco. That sealed the deal, I now knew which guest it was because they had asked for a very late check in time because of that flight. Susan sent me a photo of the backpack stuck under the front wheel of a parked SUV. She had pulled the contents free, but the backpack remained. Very strange. She gave me her phone number to pass to the guest that stayed with us and we planned to connect the next morning.
When I woke the next day Caleb had messaged me that yes in fact, his friend Tony had used the car for sightseeing and while he was getting brunch someone broke the window, pulled the seat forward and took all the contents that had been stored in the trunk of the car (wow, not even trunks are safe anymore), including his backpack.They were planning on Insurance covering the repair and replacement of valuables but I told Caleb that if Tony was interested in getting his personal items back (who could live without their day planner?!) that they could contact Susan.
Later that day Susan wrote to tell me that Tony had come to her place to retrieve his items and they had such a nice visit they talked for 2 hours! That’s when she told me the rest of the story. The reason she was so persistent in trying to find the owner is that in an envelope tucked inside the day planner she had found a significant amount of cash! As it turns out, Tony’s sister had previously worked for the SF symphony and as a thank you they were having symphony tickets sent to Susan.
This experience is such a great reminder that there is light in the darkness. Many people (dare I say most?) care about other people and want to help. Short term rental hosting and using the Airbnb platform really does connect people in a more personal way as they travel. It’s stories like these that give a greater purpose to the extra income sharing our home provides. You never know when meeting your guests in person, hearing a little bit about their lives and/or picking up that business card could lead to something bigger. I now have a new Artist friend who shares the joy of bringing joy to others. We plan to visit each other in both places and hopefully paint together someday!