A Story of Gratitude!

Sono molto grato a voi due per quello che avete fatto, Davide ed Enrico. Mille volte grazie per il mio telefono!

My family and I visited the Cinque Terre region. We booked an apartment in Levanto for three nights and visited the five villages of Cinque Terre on Sunday 22 October using a one-day train ticket.

In the evening, after the last village and a fine dinner, we took the train from Monterosso back to Levanto (header picture).

At Levanto station, I was confused about the train stop. My brain, unable to focus on two things simultaneously, led me to forget my phone on the train!

I realised this just after leaving the station. Everything was closed (including the ticket office) because it was late in the evening (21:45). A fellow passenger informed me that this particular train (number 12244) was heading to Sestri Levante as its final stop, where it would likely be checked and cleaned by maintenance staff before returning to Levanto around 23:28 on its way to La Spezia.

Together, we asked the next train’s chief (capotreno) if they could contact their colleague on the other train, but they were unable to do so.

As I share my Google Maps location with my family, they could see the phone traveling to Sestri Levante then staying there, not moving. However, the battery was low, and the location stopped updating around 22:50, when the train was leaving Sestri Levante to head back in our direction.

We waited for the return of train 12244 at 23:28 and boarded it to search for my phone, with the help of other passengers I approached for assistance on the platform (thank you all). Unfortunately, we found no phone.

Since the train was almost empty when we left it and there were no other stops until Sestri Levante, I hoped that no passenger had seen it and that it would have been found by the maintenance staff.

I must mention that my banking cards were with my phone, and I later couldn’t access my banking platform as it required two-factor authentication (2FA) via my phone app. I couldn’t transfer funds between accounts or even check if the cards had been used for contactless payments. Fortunately, I still had my credit card and some Swiss francs.

Additionally, due to recent backup issues with an external hard disk, the last two months of photos and some voice recordings from 2019 of conversations with my deceased father were only on my phone. So, it was precious to me.

On Monday morning, I called my bank in Geneva, and I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to Michelle from the BCGE support. She said she wouldn’t immediately block the cards (to avoid unnecessary fees in case I found my phone and cards) but would monitor and block them in case of contactless use. We agreed to call again later.

Then, I called the Polizia Ferroviaria at the Sestri Levante Station. They said no one had brought in a phone and asked me to call back later. Nonetheless, I decided to go to Sestri Levante to speak with the maintenance/cleaning staff.

I arrived there forty-five minutes later, hopeful. However, the maintenance staff said no phone had been turned in, and it seemed unlikely that it would be found, suggesting someone might have taken it. They were very friendly and empathetic towards me. As a last resort, they said they would call their night staff at 11:30 since it was only 10:00 and the staff was asleep. I then filed a report with the Polizia Ferroviaria, the officers were also very kind to me.

In the meantime, I tried to exchange Swiss francs for Euros at four banks, but all said, “No bank here does money exchange anymore; you must go to Genova.” In smaller towns in Euroland, such services are apparently unnecessary! At Western Union, they suggested trying the Post (Poste Italiane), and indeed, they still did currency exchange. The lady at the counter was so friendly and empathetic when I shared my story. We chatted a bit, and she complimented my Italian, reassuring me that “it can happen to anyone” when I mentioned I was feeling stupid. She was so kind!

Then, at 11:30, I returned to the maintenance office at the station. The staff member greeted me with a bright smile. YES, one of their staff, Davide, had found the phone and tried to contact me. He looked at my name on my banking cards and contacted me via FB Messenger with the help of his colleague Enrico, right after finding my phone the previous evening. (I hadn’t noticed the message on my computer as it was in “message requests,” which I don’t get notifications for, and I was stressed and hadn’t really checked Facebook on my computer.)

I was full of gratitude for Davide and his colleague Enrico, who wrote the message. I left a reward as promised: it’s written on my lockscreen “reward if found, + my husband’s number” (though they hadn’t seen it as the phone was off). I hope they can enjoy a good evening sharing drinks or whatever they like!

I don’t believe in karma, or the “universe rewards” but I appreciate that there are people who do exactly what I would do in the same situation. Once, I found an “international vaccination certificate” (the WHO yellow booklet) in a car park here in Geneva, searched for the owner, found them, and returned it. The fact that a phone (even a 5-year-old one) has some resale value makes it even more better that they didn’t keep it for themselves!

Before leaving Sestri Levante to return to Levanto, I canceled my report with the Polizia and visited the Post office again to tell the friendly lady that I had my phone back!

To Davide & Enrico and the staff, to the Post Lady, to Michelle at BCGE, and to the passengers who helped searching the train in Levanto: Many many thanks❤️

More lost and found phone stories.

ADDED on 27 December 2023.

My 14-year-old son forgot his phone on the Léman Express yesterday 26 December 2023, this is the regional train that runs around Geneva. He left the train at 17:18 at Pont-Céard station. He came home with his friend, and the first thing he said to me was “I did what you did, I forgot my phone on the train, you can’t be angry”. I told them to go back to Pont-Céard as the same train comes back at 17:40 from Coppet (the terminus). So they did, and he found his phone at the same place he had left it, next to a lady who asked him “is this what you’re looking for?”
Thank you Madam, I hope you were going to leave it at the Geneva lost & found CFF/SBB office!

Another story is that I had already forgotten my phone in August, when I was attending WordCamp US. This is what I wrote in the attendee channel (click here if you are in the WP Slack):

“Lot of gratitude!!! Yesterday evening, I was having drinks at the Social Harbor, then went out in the gardens with 1 friend, and FORGOT my phone on one of the benches. We come in, continue to talk, meet friends, etc. and after 45 minutes I wanted to have a selfie with my friends and realize I do not have my phone!!!! I go out and find it at the exact same place I left it 45 minutes earlier!!!
Thank you to everyone (WP people and others at the hotel) to not have taken it.
Furthermore, in my phone case are my bank cards. Imagine how hectic it would have been without that while travelling from another country!!
(I then tagged the friends in the channel and posted the selfie) This is the photo with the mentioned friends after that (see the relief). Thx friends: you supported me during that episode (I was in panic )
(And I only had 1 alcoholic drink!! )”

One response to “The wonderful people of Sestri Levante”

  1. Luca avatar

    Nice post!

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