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I just lost my wallet on the way home from work (twitter.com)
1385 points by isp 37 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 529 comments

Every so often my pessimistic tendencies get a healthy slap across the face by the actions of someone who took the high road when they easily could have chosen otherwise.

It's a couple summers ago, at the height of the summer tourist season and I'm cycling up 4th ave SW in DC. Somewhere between the NASA HQ and the National Mall my camera bag - packed full with a fairly new DSLR, a few lenses, and a secondary cell phone - came unbuckled from my messenger bag and tumbled to the sidewalk. Probably a few thousand dollars of gear, not counting the considerable hassle of resetting 2fa and credentials for every possible account that could be tied to my phone (it was password-locked but I have no idea how well that would survive a determined attack).

I was booking it pretty hard trying to catch a metro, so I didn't notice the loss for a couple more blocks. After the only genuinely involuntary (and painful!) facepalm I've ever given myself, I hurried back home (lived in town close by) and immediately started cancelling every account when my main cell phone rang. The bag was waiting for me, all contents undisturbed and intact, in a hotel lobby a couple blocks away. An anonymous samaritan had picked it up, brought it in and gave it to the concierge without a word, then walked away. Concierge called me using my contact info in a business card that was also in the bag.

In one instant, some unsung karmic superhero single-handedly erased the work of several hundred asshole double parking jobs.

I turned in more than one lost wallet or debit card to a librarian (or similar) while homeless.

I didn't want to call them myself or whatever because I was homeless and I knew I was automatically suspect as a thief because of it. So I wanted someone the world would trust/believe to deal with it.

Well before I was homeless, attempts to return wallets or found ID cards or whatever were consistently met with suspicion. One woman tried to run from me and my husband on the assumption that we were up to no good for trying to catch her because we happened to see her drop her wallet just before she got in her car. But, obviously, we must have been muggers or something. No other explanation was possible in her mind.

Long ago, I worked in a record store, and David Byrne came in to the store to shop. He was wearing a red plastic hard hat, yet gave a disparaging look to everyone who seemed to "notice" him. When he left, I discovered he had forgotten to take his credit card from the counter. I called him (we also had a video store with contact info) and he was incredibly rude and told me just to cut it up because he couldn't be bothered to stop back in. This story has no real point, but it did make me less of a Talking Heads fan, and perhaps relates to the idea that being a good Samaritan isn't always rewarding. That said, I once had my bag stolen at a nightclub, and a few months later someone found my wallet in some bushes and mailed it to me, which was a pleasant surprise. When I've had things stolen, I've always maintained a hope that there will end up being a happy ending, even if that hasn't been the case every time.

I flew back from Palermo to Zurich on Monday. Exceptionally in business class (essentially same price).

A pretty well known German performer was also on the flight with his companion and - I assume - his favorite microphone.

The gentleman was meticulously polite, including the fact that he queued up at the gate instead of jumping the queue with about a dozen economy passengers in the queue.

Not every prominent person is an asshole.

Even prominent people can have a bad day or have other momentary hassles to deal with that might make them behave less than gracious on occasion. Trying to be generous here.

Whether you're talking about rich or poor, famous or not, educated or not - there are good and bad people.

Our instinct is to make assumptions like 'rich so asshole', and there may be correlations between some of those categories and rate of occurrence of good and bad, but the differences are small compared to the normal panoply of personality types.

Oh, that's disappointing, I've always loved David Byrne :(

The problem with a forgotten credit card is that you can't be sure if it was stolen and can be cloned, so is better to dismiss it and get a new one. Maybe he had a bad morning talking with his bank about it yet so the card was useless at this time.

As per someone else's comment, everyone can have a bad day. I try not to judge people I don't know (unless there are repeat stories, then it's hard not to).

Oh, and never read about your heroes!

Edit: just -> judge. Damn auto-correct!

> One woman tried to run from me and my husband on the assumption that we were up to no good for trying to catch her because we happened to see her drop her wallet just before she got in her car. But, obviously, we must have been muggers or something. No other explanation was possible in her mind.

When I was a little kid, I was on Crete with my mother, and at some point she asked me to watch her bag while she bought did something for a few minutes, probably buying food. So I was sitting there, with my knee on the bag, not actively watching it, I rather took in the surroundings. Some older Greek farmer type guy started to point at the bag, trying to get my attention, and I thought he wanted to remind me to really "watch" the bag, being a patronizing adult. No other explanation was possible in my mind. So without really looking at him or the bag, I was like "I know, it's fine, I got this, leave me alone". He did after a short while.

When my mother returned, she noticed the pomegranate the man had placed on the bag.. which is what he had pointed at. I was so ashamed.

Back in '96 or '97 i found a pager dropped on the ground (they were pretty expensive back then), it was at night so i took it and called the lost and found number on the back. I was on the phone for about an hour and finally got to someone who gave me an address to mail it back to. I was in college and literally eating ramen noodles, i told them i was not getting a box and paying to mail it back. The person on the phone was rude and agreed to send a prepaid box to mail it back in.

That was over an hour of my life wasted and the company didn't seem to be grateful, hopefully the owner was...I will return things if found, just a bit more jaded about it.

I am 56 years old. I have never found a wallet or a debit card except one I found a card in a restaurant where I just hand it to a server.

Lost one at a Metro ca. 1986, had it returned.

Dropped a credit card at TSA checkin a year ago, had it pointed out by the person behind me.

Found an out-of-state drivers' license a couple of years ago while running, got in touch through LinkedIn, handed it off at a Starbucks the next day.

Found a wallet at a Starbucks within the last year, called the guy at the business card number, left it at the front desk of my building.

But then I have the advantage of you by eight years...

I've found 2 and lost 1 in 49 years. But you'd need more than a couple data points to suggest anything. Let's at least require p<0.05 before suggesting something is "odd".

Presumably a homeless person spends more time than you do in the places where people lose things than a non homeless person.

Ive both once lost and found a debit card in an ATM.

The one I found was left in a drive thru on a Saturday morning. The branch was open, so I walked in and dropped it off. I have no idea what the bank did after that.

I once left mine at an ATM, the bank cancelled the card and issued a new one before I even realized I'd left it behind.

But how? Doesn't the ATM eat it up if you don't take it in 30s or so?

Some do (that happened to mine when I forgot it once, bank called me). Others do not. The best ones require that you take your card before they do the thing you wanted it to do (as a measure to ensure you don't forget your card).

This drove me mad when moving to Canada. In Germany all the ATMs require you to take the card to get the cash, in Canada it was the opposite. I lost my card twice that way. Design is so important.

It’s like this in the US as well, and I didn’t know the possible difference in order of operations before you brought it up. I would think stuff like this would be written down in a best practice / licensing document somewhere in order to even sell ATMs.

Edited: Added “up” after “brought it”.

Sadly no, there's very often tricks to correctly designing routine things in life that not everybody responsible has thought about and this can have dire consequences. Every "push" door with prominent "pull" handles is a miniature example.

Modern railway trains use electronically controlled doors. Rather than needing a team of people to run along checking every door on the train is closed and locked, or just hoping nobody falls out of a moving train, the doors are powered and when instructed will close and lock. The doors can't close instantly of course and so the procedure will be that the guard or driver presses a button, there's a brief warning period and then doors try to close and lock, once all doors are successfully closed and locked you're clear to drive the train away.

In the UK it turns out that there were two ways to implement this functionality, some train manufacturers used one, some the other. One way goes like this, when the button is pressed:

1. "Door Open" buttons for passengers are disabled 2. All open doors sound an alarm (typically fast bleeping) 3. Wait a few seconds 4. All doors that are still open try to close

The other way goes like this:

1. All open doors sound an alarm 2. Wait a few seconds 3. "Door Open" disabled 4. Try to close any open doors

This second order feels pretty similar, it's likely only a few geeks even noticed it was different and nobody made a big fuss about it. Until there was an accident and then the accident investigators discovered it.

A passenger realised very late that they were at their destination, unknown to them when they pressed "Door Open" in fact the train's crew had just told the system to close all doors for departure and it was in that waiting period. On their train, the "Open" buttons were not disabled during that period. Now the passenger's door was open, but it had missed that "alarm" phase, so there was no warning anything was amiss. The passenger tried to step through the door, but at that moment the timer expired and the door closed on them, trapping IIRC an article of clothing and resulting in a dragging accident when the train departed.

All affected trains needed revised firmware to enforce the correct order of events now that it was apparent to everybody that there even _was_ a correct order of events.

This is why I recommend all software engineers to read The Design of Everyday things. These basic design principles are helpful in designing UIs, APIs and architecture.

The thing with doors for me is that I feel “trapped” when I have a door with no place for my hands besides a panel that lies flat (does not extend outward) from the door. The first time I saw one I was very confused: it seemed to me that I was against a wall that was painted as a door, but had no handles. It was surprising to me that specific example it was brought up as an example of good user interface design in my university UI class.

Your account of the train incident is heart-breaking, but further solidifies my desire to have mandatory best practices that are evidence-based and have sufficient consensus for user interfaces that have harmful failure modes. On top of these best practices, there also needs to be a ramp plan from the any status quo interface that is nonconformant to the final version through as many intermediate designs as necessary to deal with ingrained user behaviour and ingrained user expectations.

Depends on the company, they're mostly developed independently. I know that RBC ATMs require you to take back your card before dispensing cash.

I can't remember which places do it which way, but I have walked off with my card and without the cash I withdrew when I used an ATM that gave the card back first (I was used to the other way round).

The ATM can (don't all?) take the money back if not picked up in 30s, and cancel the transaction.

I live in Germany, where ATMs always require you to take out the card before giving you money. The reason I've heard for this is to avoid a particular scam that goes like this:

1. Eve spies on Alice as she enters her PIN into the ATM.

2. As Alice takes her money, Eve taps her on the shoulder and gives her a 10$ bill, explaining that it fell down to the floor when Alice didn't notice.

3. Mallory uses the distraction to swipe Alice's card from the ATM without her noticing. Now Mallory and Eve have both the card and the PIN and can empty the account.

The UK does this and I always figured it was to prevent you from forgetting your card and leaving it in the ATM.

Yes, ATMs nowadays wait for you to remove the card (start beeping if you don't) and won't produce the cash unless you've done so. But there could be ATMs on less-prone banks or just by other companies that just "sell cash" (and charge a fee) that are not so caring.

This was a while ago, and Things have changed since I've had my ATM eaten. Now, they do not dispense cash until the card has been removed.

I found a wallet in a train earlier this year. I dropped it into the office at the station.

I like the library as proxy return idea.

I've tried to return stuff via my police precinct. Couldn't be bothered.

I once returned a wallet via a "I Saw You" style personal ad in our local arts paper. (One of his frat brothers saw the ad and posted it on his door. Result!)

I've returned a few phones. Because they've been locked, I had to wait until someone calls (answer) or texts it (quickly write down number, then use my own phone to call back).

Phones need a "I found this lost phone" feature on the lock screen.

Android has that, you just have to turn it on in settings (which no one does). Maybe it should be part of first-time setup.

In some Landmark course, many years ago, our homework included giving $1 to one random person every day, and recording what happened. As I recall, maybe 50% of people wouldn't take it, at least at first.

This was, of course, mainly an exercise in sharing Landmark.

In major cities, I've been burned so many times with people trying to grab my attention for some agenda or other, usually to sell me something or peddle some wierd conspiracy, or both. I'm afraid I'd be one of the people who wouldn't take your dollar.

Out in the country, I'd likely be more receptive.

That's the problem with cities. Such high population density, so many people fighting for your attention. You have to ignore the people around you to some degree to get anything done. It's far too easy to just completely switch off after a while

There is an interesting selection bias at work.

1) If someone on the street approaches you, they are probably up to something.

2) If you randomly select someone on the street you have probably picked a moral and upstanding person who would love to do you a good turn.

Because of (1) people tend to be a lot more defensive than they need to be when assessing what the average stranger is likely to do.

This is why modern parenting guidance tends away from a blanket stranger danger policy toward something a bit more nuanced like "beware of a grownup who approaches you or initiates a conversations with you, but if you are in trouble, almost any grownup who looks safe to you is probably someone you can ask for help."

You can add a few more layers like seeking out someone in a uniform or who has a stroller, but generally speaking most people minding their own business are perfectly safe.

UK Advice is moving towards "Clever Never Goes".


Honest grown-ups will be annoyed that a lost child refuses to come with them to the obvious "lost children" place, but they'll put up with it while somebody tries to figure out where the people responsible for that child are. Somebody with nefarious motives will probably need to take the child somewhere else though - by refusing to go they're protected.

Wow, that site is awfully bad. I had to go through 3 pages + one excruciatingly slow video all of which just told me how amazing their organization is, but I still didn't know what "Clever Never Goes" means.

tl;dr for the rest: it means: "Never go anywhere unless it was planned beforehand".

Yeah. Funny this is they have a good UX but terrible copywriting. No info at all on what they do unless you dig deep.

That would have been awesome to implement.

My son was always hyper social. (I have no idea where he got that from.) Would walk up to any one, everyone and start a convo.

While it's fantastic that my son was so open, trusting, there is still a risk. A little girl two grades ahead of him was abducted and then found dead on a beach. (Oak Harbor WA, should any one want to dox me.)

The same thing applies if something gets stolen. Countless individuals have "not" stolen that item. You only take note when it gets stolen.

I call this the subway train theory.

I am nervous with one other person in my subway car.

I feel completely safe with 5+ unrelated people in my subway car.

You shouldn't. I had my iPhone stolen on a nearly full DC metro train. Thief grabbed it out of my hands just before the doors closed and dashed.

In the Philippines, my companion and I went to an atm to withdraw our monthly support (something of a stipend as missionaries) and my companion was unfortunate enough to hold his in his hands just a little too long before putting it away and it was snatched by some kid who vanished into a sea of people.

Pickpockets thrive in crowded places. Opposite for muggers, rapists.

Ouch. Sad anecdote.

Should be called the subway train "effect" or "phenomenon," then.

In Hungary, I have been conditioned that if somebody approaches me on the street 95% of the time is a homeless person begging for money or somebody trying to sell me drugs or sex. The other people just not interacting with each other.

When I moved to New Zealand it was the opposite. There is more interaction with "regular" people. They are helping me or asking for help.

Maybe I'm missing something here, but if you say "Excuse me sir! You dropped your wallet" while holding up their wallet clear to see, people think "Oh no! A mugger! And they must have already robbed me, let's run for it" ?

While I was in college, there was a summer I couldn't find any tech work and ended up doing property claims for a tour company. It paid minimum wage, but it was pretty fun. What really surprised me was how many valuable items (camera bags full of lenses and an expensive-looking camera, CPAP machines, etc.) we would find with absolutely no identifying information whatsoever. We were able to track down some of the owners, but not all of them. If you're traveling, you should definitely have your name and contact information not just on, but inside your bags. It could come in handy someday.

I live in Sweden. Lost my wallet during my bike to work time in the morning. Not sure why it fell from my pocket, but it might because of the bumpy road due to some construction.

As most of the things inside the wallet can be replaced in a couple of days (bank card, and some ID's), I did not worry that much. But, a nice guy from the neighboring office took the high road by calling the contact point of my office, which ended up in my boss hand.

faith in humanity restored. :-)

When I lived in Germany, I would sometimes notice items placed up on fences, stone walls, the side of a fountain, etc. Things like keys, or a small child's toy, or a hat, for example.

I asked a couple different friends about this, and they said that often when people see something that looks like it was lost, they will place it up somewhere more conspicuous right be where they found it, so that hopefully whomever lost it can more easily find it.

I always thought that was a little bit of a nice touch of humanity, even if it doesn't take a lot of extra effort to do.

Another reason why people are doing this is to protect it from getting "even more lost". An item sitting on the road might be picked up by dogs, kicked away by mistake, or get dirty from people stepping on it. Putting it on the nearest fence puts it out of harm's way.

We do this in my Chicago neighborhood. Often it's gloves, mittens or hats, but once a big set of keys sat on my fence for a week.

Similar thing happened to me. I lost my wallet biking in Amsterdam a few months ago. Replacing all cards would have cost a few hundred euros. Plus a guaranteed "please step aside" passing through the passport check at the airport (it's apparently a serious matter to lose your residence permit due to possible fraud).

Luckily for me, a kind stranger found the wallet and sent me an email and I had my wallet the next day.

my daughter lost her SL card (Stockholm public transport) that had a phone number written on, and on another occasion forget her debit card at the business.

Someone called her with her SL card (worth around 100$), and the business kept her card and verified her identity when she called.

Clothing items are constantly being lost and left in-place mostly during winter, some might be relatively expensive

> In one instant, some unsung karmic superhero single-handedly erased the work of several hundred asshole double parking jobs.

Perfect balance. Yin and yang.

Two karmic superhero's. The guy that found it, and the concierge!

Sometimes it happens, and sometimes not. I lost my wallet 4 times in total, 3 in Brazil (which is $HOME), 1 in Germany. Got it back 3 out of 4 times. Guess where.

In Germany you likely visited a tourist area and in Brazil you likely were in your local area where you live or work.

That has nothing to do with the country. In my hometown in Germany nobody would steal anything, but in São Paolo I saw lots of pickpockets in the tourist destinations I visited.

It's possible. At least you know the answer :D

> Sometimes it happens, and sometimes not. I lost my wallet 4 times in total, 3 in Brazil (which is $HOME), 1 in Germany. Got it back 3 out of 4 times. Guess where.

That's highly depends on exactly _where_ in Brazil you are, time of day, your looks, general luck and many other factors. In may places you are likely to 'forcefully' lose your wallet, cellphone, car and if you are very lucky, that's all you'll lose. You can be encouraged to make a trip to the nearest ATM or even your house. Hopefully you will be alone and there won't be anyone else that can be used as leverage.

Source: have been robbed at gunpoint on several occasions. In one of them, they were discussing whether or not I should be shot. After smashing the driver's side window, while I was at a stop light. Thankfully I only had to clean up a small amount of blood from my car. On another, I was at a police station, was asked to go to a site of a police shooting to try to identify the crooks that had been shot (and were now deceased). Turns out that there was a separate event, not even 15 minutes apart a few blocks away, also two guys on a motorcycle. Those were not the crooks I was looking for, those got... caught.

That was all in a state capital, not in the middle of nowhere. Population equivalent to almost 3 San Franciscos added together.

You should be thankful of your luck.

Been robbed 3 times in parramatta, NSW, Australia.

I left Australia 🇦🇺

Been robbed at gunpoint in San Francisco.

Guess where this will never happen? Hong Kong where I live now but where people are now afraid to visit because they think it's Syria.

Or maybe they don't want to support Chinese oppression.

I've been to HK, it's ok to visit, living there though is a different matter entirely, sure I may not get robbed at gunpoint but between China and air pollution I will find somewhere else thanks.

I visited a sketchy part of Parramatta for work and it really wasn’t that bad. I walked around in the streets every night for a month to get dinner. But I can understand how it could easily be assumed (in my opinion) the most likely place in Australia to get robbed.

Australia is a really safe place by comparison to nearly anywhere else.

Are you sure you didn't lose your wallet 1 time in Brazil and 7 times in Germany?

good one!(americans will not get it)

Au contraire mon frere, I always mention BRA71L when I’m up 7-1 in Rocket League

Heh! It is a Jogo Bonita my friend!

Veeeery funny >:(

What is the joke?


Twice in Germany and once in Dubai?

I do not know the answer to this riddle.

It's a (clever) reference to an event that happens every four years.

I'll try: is it the doubling of available JS frameworks?

Long ago I lost my passport at the Octoberfest in Munich. It was turned in to the police.

I go to Oktoberfest (Munich) every year, and for a beer festival with hundreds of thousands drunk people in crowded tents and all-cash transactions, it is an amazingly safe place.

I left a MacBook Pro behind in the bin at a security checkpoint at Miami International Airport a few years back. I realized it when I got home, looked up the airport's lost & found number, called them, and they had it. I was shocked. They held it for my dad to pick up.

I left an iPad in a men's room at Tokyo SkyTree. Went back 20 minutes later and some random guy (regular guy, no uniform or anything) came out of the men's room and handed it to me. I guess I had that "just lost my iPad" look on my face.

I was checking in at a hotel in Amsterdam with my suitcase 2ft behind me with a duffel bag on top and my backpack inside containing my laptop. In the 30s it took me from the point where I took my wallet out to the point I was done paying somebody had opened up my duffel bag and stolen my backpack. I just bought that MBP 2 weeks earlier and just finished the hassle of setting it up.

TBH, whoever took it deserved it, it was the smoothest thing ever. I had friends with me all standing around and nobody saw it get taken.

I’ve grabbed the wrong Air out the airport scanner. It even had a dent in a similar place. I opened it to check on it as I walked off and the saw it was wrong. The other laptop was just leaving in someone else’s hands. Close call.

Not too long ago after a series of unfortunate events I spent the night on the floor of the international terminal of the Atlanta airport. The next morning I (exhausted) was riding the tram back to my departing flight's terminal and noticed a kid left a little dinosaur action figure on the tram. I didn't notice until the next stop. I grabbed the toy, hopped off the tram, sped-walked back to the last stop, and walked through a handful of gates looking for the kid.

In the end I didn't find him and left the toy on a counter, hoping he'd find it. The whole thing bummed me out. My own kid's lost a few toys and I know how devastating it can be. Granted I was sleep deprived and emotional, but it put a damper on my day nonetheless.

Everyone I know who's worked in restaurants or as a delivery driver tips very well. In my limited experience, teachers make some of the best parents when it comes to student interaction and parent participation.

I'd bet whoever found the wallet had lost their own at some point. Empathy is a powerful, powerful thing. I wish that more people would recognize that and work to instill it in their children.

A few weeks ago, my partner and I, together with our 1-month-old baby, were rushing to a courthouse as she needed to do some paperwork for a case she's involved in. We were under high pressure as the courthouse would close in like half an hour, but our son was especially hungry that day and we had to stop several times to feed him, etc.

In one of these stops, probably due to the stress and rush, we left her handbag behind. We noticed when we got to the courthouse (with around twenty minutes left until it closed). This not only implied losing her credit cards, house keys, healthcare card, some money and her phone, but also her ID card which was needed for the paperwork in court. The deadline for the procedure was the next day so we might still have a chance by going to the police and asking for a temporary ID or something, but I'm not even totally sure it would be possible, and in any case it would have been an absolute mess and we would have spent the next morning running here and there.

One or two minutes after we realized the handbag was missing and we were feeling like crap and powerless to do anything, my phone rings. Someone had used my partner's phone [1] to call her mother (because "Mama" is usually a reliable contact, I guess) and she told them to call me. I met the finders in a nearby square five minutes later. They returned everything, and refused any compensation. We completed the paperwork in time that day.

They will probably never know how big a favor they did to us (of course returning cards, phone, money, ID, etc. is always a big favor, but in this case it was even more important than normal due to the court issue, having very little time due to a newborn baby, etc.) and how grateful we are.

[1] In case you are wondering, indeed she didn't have her phone locked with a PIN number, pattern or similar... I know, this goes against every security recommendation. It's just laziness. In this case, it probably helped by accelerating the return, though.

On a current Android (presumably iPhones are similar) you can set information and a list of contacts, when somebody picks up a locked phone they can pick emergency and then either:

Make whatever the local emergency phone call is (112 or 911 whatever) which will work if the phone can figure out any way to make that call (e.g. it works if you have no credit on a PAYG phone or the "right" network isn't available)


Display the information and list of contacts, then make calls to any of the contacts just as if the phone wasn't locked by its owner.

I wouldn't expect a random person to necessarily know this will work, but I expect police lost+found departments know it exists and maybe other types of emergency responder would know or at least won't be scared of pressing "emergency" on somebody's phone.

Mine gives my first name, and contacts for some close friends.

A found a phone a couple of times. Calling "mama" always works! :-)

Why is every top comment on HN a personal anecdote?

A lot of people don't want to become a criminal by taking a bag that doesn't belong to them. Not exactly shocking.

Is it actually legal? In France, a bag in a public place is deemed to be a bomb and the military has to come, secure the area and destroy it. Happens on a routine basis, not even worth the newspapers. You don’t have such laws in Washington DC?

> In France, a bag in a public place is deemed to be a bomb and the military has to come, secure the area and destroy it.

That's obviously not true. If it was the case, the Paris subway would forever be stopped.

What is true is that in France when someone reports an abandoned bag in a public place in the main cities, it will systematically be considered as suspect. It means that someone will first go visually inspect it. If it is deemed to present a risk, a detection dog will be brought. Then, if the detection dog smells something, it will be safely handled by the police bomb disposal unit. Thankfully - it turns a half an hour top operation into a significantly longer one - it is very rare to need to destroy a bag.

Also it is absolutely not illegal to check a lost wallet (or a lost bag actually) in France.

You don’t have such laws in Washington DC?

Funny you should ask. A few years back my wife and I were stuck in Reagan (an airport in D. C.) for a super-long layover. As I'm watching my first ever episode of Archer, I notice the family a row over gets up and walks down the concourse, leaving their bags. Now, I've heard a bit of their conversations as I've sat there, and I gather they're American and probably self-centered and clueless. Or maybe that's what the terrorists that just walked away from their explosives want me to think. Regardless, we're sitting at the gate and there's a gate agent right there, so I put this in the "not my job anymore" bucket.

It's been a few years, but I'll bet it was at least ten minutes before the agent called security. It was long enough that I was about to get up and ask, "ya know, I'm not the super-paranoid type, but don't you think you ought to give the dog a little practice sniffing bags?" The dog and an agent or two show up, give the bags a sniff, and wait for the owners to return. I was disappointed that there wasn't at least a little ass-chewing. I mean, what U. S. resident doesn't know not to do that? And if they don't, how about driving that lesson home?

But anyway, we don't get too worked up about a random bag lying around. Because in the U. S., thus far it hasn't been shown that it stands much of a chance of blowing up. My sympathy to countries that have not been so lucky.

I was in Shanghai Pudong airport waiting in line to check in. There was a small suitcase sitting there unattended for quite a while. What was funny is that all of us in lined seemed to be very studiously ignoring it, looking away. I think we all knew that if anybody said anything, the security theater would start and we'd never get on our flights.

Definitely falls under the category of “not my circus, not my monkeys”!

dunno man: all i see here is that you failed to take proactive action to defeat the possible threat that you had imagined in your mind, and instead shed responsibility onto some other human.

what i would have liked to have read is something like "while uber low probability, i figured it'd be best to deal with this immediately" or "i knew the probability that this is a bomb was so low as to be statistically impossible, so i just ignored it", not the weird hedged middle road

In my BS mental model of how brains work, I imagine that we estimate the probability of a risk not through some analytical method, but instead with a sampling-based approach where we observe how much time our brain spends worrying about different outcomes. The mental narrative that accompanies inaction probably looks like an inconsistent mess, not a principled calculation that the probability is low.

If I'm going to take a piss or dump in the WC I'd like to think I can leave my suitcase for a few minutes without people deciding I'm a terrorist.

Deciding I might be a terrorist because I went to the bathroom? That's what is absolutely batshit insane.

Deciding I might be a terrorist because I went to the bathroom?

No, because you left a container large enough to hold a fair amount of explosives, a container that has been used in other parts of the world at airports to detonate explosives, and you just walked away from it. Tell me what you believe to be the sane response. But if you just want to go take a shit, by all means, do so.

And I'm with sibling comment: I don't let my bags out of my sight.

I think the GP comment had a point, before you get to a gate you are scanned/x-rayed, searched and pass by chemical sensors. This is not to mention other technologies that are baked into the surveillance system.

I think fretting over a bag past that point is a little much. Frankly, the crowded snaking lines leading up to the TSA are where one should be concerned.

People being paronoid pyschotics shouldn't affect my ability to take a poop in peace.

Those suitcases full of explosives you are hallucinating about? Has NEVER HAPPENED.

First 2 links I found googling it,

> United Airlines Flight 629, registration N37559, was a Douglas DC-6B aircraft also known as "Mainliner Denver", which was blown up with a dynamite bomb placed in the checked luggage on November 1, 1955. - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Airlines_Flight_629

> An explosion at the New Tokyo International Airport (later renamed Narita International Airport) occurred on Sunday, 23 June 1985 at 06:19 UTC, killed two baggage handlers, and injured four. The bomb was intended for Air India Flight 301, with 177 passengers and crew on board, bound for Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1985_Narita_International_Ai...

Not recent, but not “NEVER”.

Those are both checked luggage. Not briefly unattended luggage by someone who is in the bathroom. Where's the articles about unattended luggage?

Also you got 1955 and 1985. 64 and 34 years ago. Checked luggage wasn't even inspected back then. It is now. Still stuff gets through.

Are you arguing here that we shouldn't have checked luggage? Those are your examples. Checked luggage. Not unattended luggage, which almost certainly has already been inspected anyway when going through security. What now? Do we ban checked luggage and carry on luggage even after both have been inspected?

I love all the downvotes from the haters and the crazy supposed examples that prove my point for me. Facts and reality are not important. What's important is hysteria and fearmongering, and to shut up anyone that talks rational sense or is interested in a reality based approach to threat management.

Are you not the least bit worried about your suitcase being stolen?

Or having items planted in it.

What items? Drugs and bombs that someone managed to sneak past security already? In that case isn't the real problem improper inspection? What if the proposed mad bomber, after having successfully managed to sneak all these explosives past security, and hoping to transfer the explosives from his own suitcase to that of a stranger on a specific flight who went to the bathroom, in plain view in front of everybody sitting there waiting for that flight to board, finds that no one has gone to the bathroom without their luggage on that day? Wouldn't that ruin his plan? Not a great plan to be relying on someone on a specific flight going to the bathroom and a whole room full of people somehow not noticing a guy openly transferring an entire suitcase full of explosives from one suitcase to another. Wouldn't one of the other passengers waiting for the same plane at this point say hey wait a minute, this dude here is transferring a bunch of explosives from one suitcase to another! Maybe I should say something!

Yeah that's the argument. Someone's gonna plant the explosives while I'm in the bathroom.

You know what? That's never going to happen, it's never happened, and it's a crazy thing to imagine would ever happen. It's just hysterical paranoia and fearmongering to go on about someone planting a suitcase full of explosives in another suitcase in plain view of everyone during a few minutes when some guy is in the bathroom.

This fear and paranoia is actively harming society. Parents won't let their children walk to school or a friends house or play in the yard because they are convinced the children will be abducted by a mad kidnapper. So their kids become waddling obese paranoid kids fixed on their screens, depressed, miserable, high blood pressure, having been raised in a culture of fear, years shaved off their lives from the stress.

All these irrational things, none based on facts or reasonable threat assessment, are actively harming society, and the people pushing this fear are doing it intentionally. But to what aim?

What is illegal? To inspect a bag you find in public? To inspect a bag you see someone dropped? Would really be interested in a reference to a specific law.

About the only place that would happen in the US (a bag being destroyed for being forgotten) is an airport.

There may be a handful of other places with ‘unattended baggage’ policies, but there is definitely nothing illegal about dropping your bag.

Don't forget metros/subways. You see a lot of luggage pass through without inspection (unlike airports or stadiums) but the potential for a terrorist attack is real and they've been used for exactly this. So transit police in US respond very quickly to unattended packages or luggage and treat them as dangerous by default. (https://wjla.com/news/crime/suspicious-packages-in-d-c-unpac...)

>In France, a bag in a public place is deemed to be a bomb and the military has to come, secure the area and destroy it.

After the 2015 attacks one would guess. For a millenium at least, and well up into the early 21st century, a bag in public place in France it was just a bag -- and people could return it.

I'm pretty sure that's the case now too -- it's only "deemed to be a bomb" if it looks suspicious and somebody calls the cops. I'm sure people lose/forget bags with the same frequency in France as elsewhere, and the military/cops are not involved in the majority of cases...

Wow, that’s some insane security theater.

How often do the bags turn out to be bombs? never?

France experienced a high amount of bomb attacks in the 70s and 80s, eventually tapering off in the 90s [1]. The aggressive reaction to unattended bags stems from these events.

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents_in...

Not sure about such laws, though there's lots of "if you see something, say something" PSA posters around.

It's possible the person who recovered it saw it fall, but they didn't explain their actions or even identify themselves.

In the UK it's generally the same too. People are always cautious and told to look out for unattended baggage for that reason.

It's certainly not illegal to inspect unattended items in the UK. An assessment is typically made of whether or not it should be deemed a threat.

If the item is not hidden, not obviously suspicious, and is typical of the environment in which it was found, then it's unlikely to be a threat and can be inspected further.

Unattended bags are found all the time. There's no need for the military to be called in for all (or even most) of them. And even then, that's mostly the responsibility of the police than the armed forces.


If you keep breaking the site guidelines we will ban you. We've asked you many times.


Someone registered and paid for a new Netflix account with my gmail address plus a point somewhere, which Gmail ignores. So I logged into the Netflix account, thinking it was actually mine and this was some misunderstanding. I realized that was not the case, so I to tried to get in touch with the person but no other info was available, everything was done from his phone apparently according to the account logs. I figured that reporting it to support would not do much since they too did not have his info and no phone number was on record, they would cancel the account and maybe the amount paid would be lost.

Finally the only way I found to notify the user was by creating/modifying Netflix users with usernames as short telegraphic messages such as "you registered", "using my email", "*@gmail.com is mine","contact me or change it". That message would be visible as the user opened up any of the Netflix apps or web app. It apparently worked as a couple days later my email stopped being primary on the account and never got any Netflix emails at that gmail inbox.

I have this problem too - only, it happens a LOT. I've had people use my Gmail address but without the "." to sign up (or try to) for Playstation accounts, Apple accounts, Paypal, Skype, Bank accounts, plus it's pretty common that I receive wills and other sensitive legal documents, property deals, you name it. The legal docs etc are likely due to other people mishearing/mistyping someone's email which I can understand, but I'm constantly baffled by how often people must type in their OWN email address incorrectly for important situations too.

Often I can just ignore the signup confirmation emails and it doesn't go any further, but it's surprising how often there is no confirmation link sent out and the account gets opened without verification of the email address. At that point, it can be incredibly difficult to get the problem rectified. Most companies don't seem to have any procedure in place to deal with this situation - Many online companies only have an easy way to contact them if you are one of their customers, so I often have to resort to resetting that user's password to get into their account and use the company's contact form to try and get things straightened out from there. Sometimes even that isn't possible, e.g. because 2FA prevents me from resetting the password, so about the best I can do is unsubscribe from their marketing emails and leave the account active.

I have a very similar problem as this, but often it's in another language, German or Spanish usually, to boot.

The access I have to mess with other peoples' lives, if I so chose, is amazing.

I have this same issue with one of my junk email addresses. It's pretty short, it's a famous person's last name (I was a fan), but it's not a very common last name. I've received all kinds of stuff, from many people, but one lady in particular. I only recently noticed this and when checking, I found out that this had been going on since 2008. She's used my email for: car service appointments, plane tickets, Walmart orders, forwards from her work email, turbo tax, customer support, change.org, hotel reservations, etc. Pretty much every aspect of her life has ended up in that mailbox.

I'm truly happy for her that I'm not a malicious person and when I figured it out I sent her a message. I hope she manages to stop using my email for stuff.

It does make a case for not using common user names. I used to always try to use my first name in the early days of the Internet, but it was almost always taken.

The one time I got it was with one of the Maxis online accounts and for the next couple of years I seemed to get a bunch of password reset requests from people who thought it was their account.

While there's something to be said for not using the same user name across different systems using a very common name is not a mistake I'm going to make again.

gmail has this weird bug that if I am XY@gmail.com, I also get email from X.Y@gmail.com.

It's not a bug. It's a feature :)

"If someone accidentally adds dots to your address when emailing you, you'll still get that email. For example, if your email is johnsmith@gmail.com, you own all dotted versions of your address"


That would be a great feature if you could tell gmail what +something suffixes you've used and it blocked all mail to other suffixes and the address without the suffix. As it is, spammers can just strip off the +something part, or change it to +somethingelse, to cover their tracks. I know this is gmail specific - for other providers they'd have to keep +something suffix in case it really goes to a different inbox - but gmail is so big that spammers can afford to make a special case for them.

Gmail has a filter feature, can't you use it for that?

yes, but the point is that spammers can easily modify that part of the address to make the filter stop working.

Doesn't Gmail support rules that apply when no other did? That could be used to filter out all emails to addresses that are in use we while deleting all others.

This is a feature not a bug[0].

You can also add a plus sign with your own string after the username, useful for giving to websites you don't fully trust.

e.g. user.name+facebook@gmail.com

Gmail will still send it to user.name@ and you can track and filter the messages sent to that address.

[0] https://support.google.com/mail/answer/7436150

Absolutely this, it’s a great feature. When required to give an email I add a prefix so that it’s easy to track and block.

It’s not a bug, it’s a feature: https://support.google.com/mail/answer/7436150?hl=en

Is that just for you? Or in general for anyone?

Gmail ignores periods in emails. It also ignores everything after the +.

So if your email is bob@gmail.com you can also use:

b.ob@gmail.com, b.o.b@gmail.com, bob+alice@gmail.com,

You can use the second one to do filtering. I.e. use a different +{filter} for bills, entertainment etc.

bob+bills@gmail.com for bills. bob+spam@gmail.com for sites you know will spam you etc.

then setup mail rules to filter based on the +

What if my email IS a.bob.mail@gmail.com, if someone registers abobmail@gmail.com are they getting my emails?

There's a slight chance the gmail developers would have thought of that scenario.

no, Gmail does check for that during registration. But you could use those two different email addresses to create two separate accounts somewhere else.

I knew about the + sign, but not about the period. Thanks for that - will come in handy!

For everyone, that's on purpose. Also xy+anything@gmail.com will go to xy@gmail.com inbox (with anything label added)...

How did you log into it? By changing the password?

In terms of the kindness of strangers, I’m reminded of a friend who decided she wanted to hitch hike around Mexico when she was 18. She was poor but she wanted adventures. She wanted to get away from the beaten path, away from tourist traps, and go out into the rural areas so she could discover what Mexico was really like.

Everyone who picked her up warned her that what she was doing was very dangerous. She was lucky, they said, to get a ride from them, and not the criminals all around them. She got ride after ride like that. Family after family picked her up and took her along on their trip and all of them said, “You are in danger! You are lucky we are the ones who picked you up!”

In this manner, she traveled around Mexico for a month, and she never had a dangerous ride.

I frequently walked home from work in Oakland at 1am when I worked a night shift. I always wore headphones too and people would tell me I was being stupid. After about a year and a half of this I was coming up a hill to a four way intersection when someone popped out from behind a fence just before I passed it, grabbed my shirt and stuck a gun in my stomach.

He ended up being not the worst and let me keep my keys and license when I asked.

It only takes once, and the consequences for her would probably have been much worse.

yeah I did a ton of late night walks in Oakland and nothing ever happened, but I figured it was only a matter of time :/

Yikes! How did you get the gun out of your stomach?

He still had the keys.

> the consequences for her would probably have been much worse.

Are you assuming that the mugger you encountered would have raped her? (To be clear, I don't think that's a prima facie invalid assumption. It's a sincere object-level question.)

No, they are assuming it could have been worse.

That includes the possibility of having a gun pulled on them like OP which only happened once.


The person I was responding to said: "It only takes once, and the consequences for her would probably have been much worse."

I was trying to figure out what he meant / what the assumption indicated, which I still don't understand.

They are implying that the outcome for the girl hitchhiking around Mexico could have been worse had one of the criminals or other bad actors been the one to pick her up. I believe the purpose of the story here is to warn against survivorship bias. Just because something bad doesn't happen to you when you do something risky, it does not mean that the bad thing does not or cannot happen. Someone hitchhiking solo around Mexico (or anywhere) is taking a risk of being picked up by nefarious persons and having bad things happen, such as sexual assault, kidnapping, torture, or murder. The fact that one girl did it for a month with no issue does not necessarily mean that there is no risk in doing it.

The purpose of the Oakland story is to warn that just because something bad doesn't happen, even for a long time, it does not mean that the bad thing does not happen.

>In this manner, she traveled around Mexico for a month, and she never had a dangerous ride.

>the consequences for her would probably have been much worse

These are the two linked statements — if she had had a dangerous ride, the consequences could have been worse (abduction in a foreign country etc.) than the consequences of a mugging in your own city.

The problem with hitchhiking is that you don't pick someone at random, someone decides to pick you up.

If you pick a random person, they'll almost certainly be a normal, honest person.

If you advertise yourself with a giant sign "I WILL GET IN YOUR CAR IF YOU STOP", then a small percentage of random strangers, but a large percentage of opportunistic criminals, will stop.

I'd argue she got very lucky.

I have reservations about the explanation that a consistent positive outcome can be chalked up to pure luck.

She may not know what she was "doing right," but I think it more likely she was doing something that helped foster positive outcomes.

You may want to consider the rates of homicide and rape in Mexico before determining that one person's experience of not being hurt is that compelling.

I just looked it up and Mexico city’s homicide rate in 2009 was half that of Atlanta, Georgia. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_Mexico#Mexico_City) Mexico has changed considerably in the last 30 years, and the story above sounds like it wasn’t recent. Most murders today are drug related, and crime is heavy in US border towns, but not that bad everywhere else.

Thirty years ago, when I was a kid, my siblings and I wandered around in Mexico sometimes miles from home without an adult, talking to the locals. Everyone was super friendly, we were never threatened. People would sometimes offer us food or toys like little hand carved slingshots. It seemed pretty safe, and we didn’t get hurt during the year we stayed, other than once my little brother went to pet a donkey in a field and got kicked by it. It was a different time then, so I guess my point is you might likewise want to consider how the rates of homicide have changed over the years, where the rates are higher, who’s most likely to be affected, and how it actually compares to other countries, before assuming that everyone’s in equal danger, or that anyone’s in more danger there than here...

Mexico City is one of the safer cities in Mexico and Atlanta one of the more dangerous cities in the US. Tijuana and Acapulco, on the other hand, have a murder ten times higher than Atlanta's. Victoria, Juarez, and Irapuato have five times Atlanta's murder rate.

The parent comment mentioned traveling in rural Mexico, which presumably does not refer to Mexico City.

I agree that homicide rates have changed over the years. I would be surprised if it was ever wise for a young woman to go hitchhiking solo in rural Mexico though. From the story it seems rural Mexicans agree with me.


When I was in Mexico City (10+ years ago) every single person advised "don't get in random taxis", make sure you know one / have a driver's number.

In Caracas the locals also constantly emphasized the dangers. Random airport workers would tell us to not even leave the airport unless we had a driver outside specifically waiting for us. Even on Isla Margarita locals would look at us in a panic if we were out on the streets after dark "you can't be here!!" and would go out of their way to help us get home safely.

It's a bummer it's gone that far downhill, I'd love to go back and visit someday when it gets better. We used to take random taxis all over the place, back when all the taxis in DF were VW bugs with the front passenger seat ripped out. Never had an issue with any drivers, but I remember distinctly how the driving in the city was total madness, traffic rules and conventions we take for granted mostly ignored. I had fears about being in a crash, but no fears about being randomly mugged or killed.

I did once wonder if I was going to get hurt when I was pulled out of the audience during a circus show in Leon for the clown's knife-throwing act. I was mostly sure it'd be safe and faked and funny, but they blindfolded me and I certainly had a few thoughts run through my head about what I was thinking being in the middle of Mexico having knives thrown at me.

The people being killed in Mexico, by and large, are not foreign travelers, they are Mexicans who are involved in drugs. Looking at the average murder rate is misleading in this context.

It's not particularly wise for a young woman to hitchhike in the US either. I certainly wouldn't recommend someone do it right now in Mexico, and I have no doubt that people here and there all have fears about it, but fears don't necessarily mean it's extraordinarily unsafe.

I'm a woman who was homeless for nearly six years. Homeless women also are at high risk of being raped, which is one of the reasons you see relatively few women on the street compared to men.

I was never raped while on the street.

I also have lived without a car for more than a decade and accepted many rides from strangers. None of those rides ended tragically either.

I get told a lot I'm just lucky. It's a left-handed way of assuming a woman has no idea what she's talking about and can't possibly be competent.

> I get told a lot I'm just lucky. It's a left-handed way of assuming a woman has no idea what she's talking about and can't possibly be competent.

No. It's a straightforward way of assuming that you are not actually in complete control of the universe and it doesn't matter how competent you are, things could have worked out differently. If you'd like to assert that you actually have perfect methods of identifying and avoiding Ted Bundy and any other potential psychopath, then you are going to have to show a lot more evidence than "and I'm ok!" - because it is an extraordinary claim.

I'll give you another extraordinary claim: I appear to be the only openly female member of HN to have ever spent time on the leader board.

The leader board is 100 names long. I've been here over a decade and was not an early adopter, so the site is more than ten years old. There have been, no doubt, quite a lot more than a 100 people who have spent time on the leader board. So one openly female member out of more than a 100 names is less than one percent.

For comparison:

This is a list of Women CEOs of the Fortune 500, based on the magazine's 2019 list. As of the date of publication, women held 6.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEO roles.


According to historical surveys, HN is an overwhelmingly male space. For example:


Yet, I continue to be told by people on HN that I somehow need to prove to people that I know how to handle myself when interacting with men and my claims that I know how to deal effectively with men in social settings is bizarre, unfounded, ridiculous and so forth. I find this profoundly baffling.

Please skip the part where multiple men pile on to inform me that my ability to score "useless internet points" on a "stupid forum" is irrelevant to this discussion. To my mind, it is the single strongest piece of evidence that I can present that people here should be able to readily see as real evidence of ability and skill on my part and not just more anecdotal claims that cannot be verified. So that's why I'm bothering to post this, in spite of the very long history of awful, dismissive replies any time I talk about this stuff.

The handle that was briefly on the leader board is here and shows that I joined in July 2009: https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=Mz

I'm a woman, but I also have absolutely no idea why this would be relevant. If it helps to explain, I would disbelieve any person on that leaderboard who said they would definitely be able to identify any Ted Bundy types. I don't think that skill exists.

The vast majority of rapes are not committed by Ted Bundy types. This is a detail I already addressed elsewhere. Most victims know their assailant socially.

Nowhere have I claimed any ability to "identify Ted Bundy types." Suggesting this is my claim amounts to putting words in my mouth.


Are you claiming that women are in control of whether or not they get raped?

I'm claiming that a long track record of success is probably not pure luck.

Occam's Razor.

One factor in me not being raped while homeless was that I was usually not alone. There is safety in numbers.

The city in the US with the highest rape rate is Anchorage Alaska with 200 rapes per hundred thousand people. Without taking into account any of many relevant complications, that's a 0.2% chance to get raped annually, or a 99.8% chance of not getting raped.

Suppose a woman went 6 years in Anchorage. There's a 99.8% ^ 6 chance of her not getting raped. 98.8% chance in other words.

Would a woman who had not been raped after 6 years in Anchorage persuade you that Anchorage wasn't a more dangerous place than most?

Your comment here is hard to grasp given your previous comment. Mexico has a significantly higher crime rate than the US. As you acknowledge, being by yourself makes you more vulnerable. Being young makes you more vulnerable. A young girl hitchhiking by herself in Mexico is incredibly vulnerable. What are the odds that she will be raped or murdered over a few months of traveling? They may be 10 or 20%. They may be higher!

The fact that a girl had the most likely outcome happen doesn't prove or suggest anything. You can play Russian Roulette and you'll have a 5/6 chance of surviving. That doesn't mean it's a good idea to play. If someone plays three rounds, that doesn't make it safe.

I hope you'd agree that members of vulnerable populations should take extra precautions to mitigate their vulnerability. As per your own example, staying with other people in dangerous times and places.

Your statistical gymnastics is a case of how to lie with statistics.

Most rapes aren't cases of random strangers grabbing you randomly off the street. That's not how that works.

Most rape victims know their rapists. It's usually a social acquaintance of some sort.

Most college campus rapes or date rapes involve alcohol.

There is this narrative that we can't try to talk about what women can effectively do to protect themselves because that would be blaming the victim. But if you tell someone to lock your door to make it harder for someone to rob you, we don't have the same problem with such advice. We don't get all up in arms about how robbers just need to keep their hands to themselves and advice to protect your belongings is somehow victim blaming.

I don't really know what we're arguing about at this point so I'm tapping out.

I agree that it's good and not victim blaming to offer advice to people, regardless of their gender, as to how they can live safer lives.

I agree that, in the US, most victims know their attacker. That doesn't mean it's safe for young women to hitchhiker in Mexico though. Similarly, you are vastly more likely to be killed by your own gun than any random gun out there. That doesn't mean you have nothing to worry about if some random stranger points a gun at you.

That doesn't mean it's safe for young women to hitchhiker in Mexico though.

I never claimed what you are seemingly rebutting at all. I never said anything of the sort whatsoever.

I only suggested that this particular woman probably wasn't simply lucky. She was probably doing some things right that helped keep her safe.

It's an entirely different idea. It's the difference between saying "Lion tamers have lion taming skills and aren't merely lucky that they usually survive their shows." Versus "Because lion tamers exist, random people with zero lion taming skills are equally safe being locked in a cage with a lion."

Lion tamers are also regularly killed and or maimed by their lions.

The word usually in that sentence admits to that outcome.

Nowhere have I claimed any of this is "bullet proof." Just that consistent positive outcomes suggest an element of skill and knowledge that claims of pure luck erroneously dismiss as not existing at all.

Fair enough there is an element of skill. It's still a foolish idea to be a Lion tamer.

Given a long enough time in risky circumstances (vs a few months of single-mode behaviour, hitchhiking, in your example) the experience would start to get pretty compelling. I think the cited six years is probably good enough to get a good feel for the risk level, especially since you presumably hear about other incidents from peers and develop an intuition for risky situations.

edit: data tangent - if your Anchorage stats were about reported cases, the averages would need correcting for underreporting.

I would guess that GP's reasoning is flawed; in this part of the world, the likelihood of a "normal, honest person" picking up a young woman is much higher, due to the knowledge of a high crime rate.

I don't doubt that's a factor. But I also know that I have a very long track record of successfully negotiating circumstances that others deem untenable and I've actually taken college classes in subjects such as Negotiation and Conflict Management.

Nonetheless, I am consistently and insistently told that I am simply lucky as the entire explanation for those outcomes. It doesn't matter how reasonably I engage, I'm outright dismissed in a manner consistent with the idea that no woman is capable of having useful skills that substantially influence the odds that they will remain safe.

No matter how clearly I state that luck is always a factor in all situations and so forth, I get basically this la, la, la not listening! response.

This has been a consistent pattern across various forums for many years. Ergo, my conclusion that it boils down to an assumption that women can't actually be competent that I stated in some other comment here.

It makes sense that competence can look like blind luck to people who are unfamiliar with the environment, if it's an environment that behaves in a subtle way and is rarely experienced by an average person.

I'd guess that some social environments often behave like this, where information is difficult to objectively classify and measure, but someone with great people skills will be able to reliably get an indication of risk and intentions.

Maybe some extreme sports practicioners experience the same type of dismissal.

Funnily, come to think of it, investment/asset management falls into something that looks like a similar situation. In that case, it's very difficult to objectively assess whether great performance is luck or skill. I've always believed that some in the latter category are mistaken for being in the former. But it would be impossible to tell without having very specialized and specific skills, and almost impossible to do so in an objective and repeatable way.

reliably get an indication of risk and intentions.

Best practices don't actually require an assessment of intentions. Just like mountain climbers use safety gear whether the mountain seems like a suspicious character or not, erring on the side of caution socially doesn't actually require a determination of intent to reduce the odds of assault. (Inferring likely intent can be useful, but really shouldn't be a high priority per se when acting to protect yourself.)

You are at least the second person here to say something along these lines. Perhaps it casts light on a detail I need to somehow focus on more when such topics come up and which is a source of the profound disbelief and denial and assertions that a track record of success due to competence is simply not remotely humanly possible.

> I have reservations about the explanation that a consistent positive outcome can be chalked up to pure luck.

It's not even necessarily much luck: if the per-day probability of a violent attack while hitchhiking in Mexico were 1 in 50, which would still be extremely dangerous, it would only be slightly better than average results to go a month straight without an attack.

It seems like hitchhiking works then! In safe areas, and in super dangerous areas when you look vulnerable... All those families stopped because they were afraid for her well-being. But still, super lucky, if a criminal had got on that road ahead of the family, the story might have been different.

I agree. I was forced to hitch-hike in Guatemala after missing the last bus . I also was picked up by a family and sat in the back of their truck for about 100km. When I got off at 9pm they advised to only continue to hitch on mining trucks or oil tankers during the night. I still remember sitting under a huge banana leaf during torrential rain waiting for hours for a truck to stop. The driver later dropped me off in the middle of no where and said a bus would stop there by 5.30am and indeed it did stop, but it was full so I was sitting on the roof of the bus for the next three hours together with 10 other souls.

In a bus traveling south of Mazatlan I met a family and they invited me to stay at their home in Mexico City. This place, as it turned out, was right in the middle of the largest slum and consisted of a metal frame with roofing and side walls made of tarpauline and a mud floor . The first few days there was a queue of people outside just to oogle the foreigner, but it was all good with lots of smiles. The morning teeth brushing and face washing ritual by young and old was fascinating to watch, with everyone awaiting their turn at the single faucet for hundreds of people.Food was simple, mostly made on small kerosene stoves. I stayed for 8 days and at no time did I feel unsafe , despite my host explaining about many pickpockets , expert thieves and robbers living in this area who went to work the tourist spots during the day , like other people would go to an office , but this was home. My host had a real job in the forestry department of the city government , but he said he could not afford to live else where.

Professional thieves are professional enough to not waste time on the foreigner that was probably broke since you were staying in their neighborhood. And professional thieves need a level of anonymity to work, which goes out the door when they rob someone in front of their aunt.

They were picking her up to protect her. I’ve been in Central America and had these types of things happen, never foolish enough to hitchhike. Many times people on buses have explained these types of things to me. Where I need it watch out for my stuff, how to not get ripped off, and which places I should avoid. One example I can remember[1].

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/08/2...

Another woman did that recently(ish) in Europe, not just for adventures but to prove the world was a safe place or something - she was murdered though https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pippa_Bacca

This reminds me of a story about how a tribe in the amazon jungle picks their camp site. They check the surrounding trees to make sure they are in good health. I imagine you would have to spend 1000 nights next to a tree they would regard as unsafe, before there was even a chance for something to happen to you. When it happens though, your family will remember it.

That's not how it works. People travel around like that the whole time I'm sure. If every one would end up dead after a month, there would not be anyone left. But that one time it happens, be it after 10 years or 20, you are still dead. Sucks to be that tiny percent that it happens to.

This is literally survivorship bias.

Survivor's Bias...

In Czech Republic, during presidential elections, one of the participants (winner, Milos Zeman) opened a transparent as part of their marketing. That meant that every transaction was visible along with donor, amount and a short message.

Because Zeman is controversial person, it turned out badly. People started spamming it with lowest amount possible (about 0.01 CZK) and wrote funny messages. There were people selling their bike or computer, sending messages to their mother from a trip. Two people even played boats there [1]. Even ASCII Pikachu picture appeared there apparently [2].

[1]: https://1gr.cz/fotky/bulvar/19/041/anime/KIT7a6caf_imgbauer_... [2]: https://1gr.cz/fotky/bulvar/19/041/anime/KIT7a6caf_imgbauer_...

EDIT: Transparent account was apparently mandatory for every candidate by law.

Coincidentally, I was able to return four peoples' IDs and other cards just this afternoon. Yesterday I was walking in East Oakland and found a pile of credit cards, debit cards, and IDs. Oakland Police Department wouldn't take them so I brought them home and started googling names and addresses.

Of the four IDs I found three belonged to adults; the third was a state ID for a minor related to one of the adults. I was able to find a contact number for all three, via relatives, and had reached them all by afternoon.

I learned that the person who'd dumped the cards had committed a series of car break-ins in San Jose yesterday morning and had fled to Oakland. They stole purses, laptops, and an iPhone. I wish OPD had taken an interest in the theft or at least in returning the stolen property.

Update for anyone who's interested:

After OPD refused the IDs/cards I contacted a handful of local news outlets and explained the situation. One of them, ABC 7, began reaching out, possibly incessantly, to the media relations office at OPD.

By 4:30 PM today I had a text from one of the ABC 7 producers telling me the OPD media relations officer wanted to get in touch and including her desk phone number. When I spoke with her she apologized, acknowledged that procedure had not been followed, and told me they were in touch with SJPD regarding the break-ins. She also told me she would follow up with OPD leadership.

Not sure how applicable this strategy would be in other communities/countries but it appears to have worked for me. I'll also note that I reached out to the mayor's office before contacting news orgs and got no response.

Sounds like the same strategy you need for when your Google account gets banned.

> wish OPD had taken an interest in the theft

Sadly, in California most theft is merely a misdemeanor, and busy PDs do not have time to chase down criminals to give them a ticket.

> Sadly, in California most theft is merely a misdemeanor, and busy PDs do not have time to chase down criminals to give them a ticket.

But they sure do like camping out all the time to give people speeding and parking tickets. Priorities!

Speeding tickets make sense. They're putting people's lives in danger by speeding. Driving is the most dangerous thing most people do regularly. Having a set of predictable behaviors saves a lot of lives. People who think that think they're "great drivers" or "everyone else is doing it" violate those norms and create risk.

> Speeding tickets make sense. They're putting people's lives in danger by speeding. Driving is the most dangerous thing most people do regularly. Having a set of predictable behaviors saves a lot of lives. People who think that think they're "great drivers" or "everyone else is doing it" violate those norms and create risk.

Speed at which you drive has very little to do with your predictability. "Oh, no, Betty is driving 5 mph faster than me. I'll never know what she'll do next!"

Even if you try to give an example of someone coming up on your left at a 50+mph difference, it's not an issue if you signal and look in your rear view mirror to make sure it's clear. Most people just don't do either.

"Even if you try to give an example of someone coming up on your left at a 50+mph difference"

70 mph in a school zone? Not an issue if you just look both ways before crossing the street!

Seriously (not that you sound very serious) every morning, I make a left turn out of my development onto a nominally 30 mph road where people go 40-45, and it's impossible to see very far to the left before pulling out. Given normal speeds, it is possible to make the turn before the oncoming car if they are just out of sight.

So if anyone is ever going 80 there at the wrong moment, it will be impossible to avoid them and probably lethal to one or both of us.

My example was mainly on a straight road because it's easy to understand. It applies to curvy roads where you won't see ahead too though. As someone driving, you should never drive faster than what you can see ahead and be able to stop in time. I kind of imagine what I'd like to call a "meteor" incident. Would I be able to stop in time if a meteor randomly crashed just outside of my vision ahead in a turn? If not - probably going too fast. (It's not uncommon to meet a "meteor" in the form of a car) One could call that "speeding" but that's not what it is colloquially. (Speeding to most is going 1+mph over the posted limit)

If the visibility is good, there's nothing wrong with going faster. Aggressive speed limits make more sense to be followed when there's very limited visibility, high chance of stops, people crossing the road, intersections, etc.

But if visibility is good, I don't see it making a difference much in what speed you're going.

"As someone driving, you should never drive faster than what you can see ahead and be able to stop in time. I kind of imagine what I'd like to call a "meteor" incident. Would I be able to stop in time if a meteor randomly crashed just outside of my vision ahead in a turn? If not - probably going too fast."

Seems like you've ignored what I just wrote in the previous comment. If I make a turn just as a car is barely out of sight, then at 40 mph there is just enough time to go before it hits me, assuming my car doesn't stall or something. If it is going much faster, say 80, then there would not be enough time. If I have no model of other drivers, and assume anything can happen outside my vision, which is what you seem to be expressing by the word "meteor" then there is no way I can make a turn in either direction safely at all, ever. The only way a person can deal with everyday situations is to assume roughly "normal" behavior (both in a social sense and in terms of physical law) and act accordingly.

In this case, you're the meteor and the other person is at fault. They turned a corner (I don't see how else they couldn't see the intersection - if it's a straight then they can see the intersection - thus my cornering talk) and went into an intersection where another car was already. It's no different than someone romping over a very steep hill (very prevalent in SF) and assuming the intersection they're running into is "clear". (It usually isn't!) It's not a thing they can do and they shouldn't do it.

Either way - sounds like a bad intersection and they should design it differently. (Turn on left with left arrow only, etc.)

"In this case, you're the meteor and the other person is at fault."

Ah, but I'm not. There's a lot of people who live in the same place I do, and they all have to come out of that road in the morning. It's very predictable, not like being hit by a meteor which billions of people have no experience with.

People can and should plan for people turning out of side streets.

A "meteor" would be a car making a turn and stalling right at that moment. Wanting to eliminate that sort of risk is probably related to the problems people are having developing software for self-driving cars.

> But if visibility is good, I don't see it making a difference much in what speed you're going.

Problem is, the speed limit is usually set with local factors in mind. I.e. if the speed limit doesn't make sense to you then the people who set the limit likely knew something you didn't.

Try driving in Finland, Sweden or Norway at dusk in the fall. That kind of attitude will often result in a white-tail or a moose through the front window. :D

> Try driving in Finland, Sweden or Norway at dusk in the fall.


> But if visibility is good, I don't see it making a difference much in what speed you're going.

Speeders, generally, don't care about their absolute speed. They only care about their speed relative to the people around them. They form packs which bunch up and then rotate positions and lanes while they overtake each other and occasionally people driving legally. All this massively increases the risk of crashes at deadly speeds. If they'd just go the posted limit there'd be far fewer bunches and far fewer lane changes.

I signalled and looked over my shoulder before changing lanes today, only to see an unexpected car right behind me when I looked back into my rear-view mirror. I'm still not sure whether they changed lanes into my lane, or if they were going so fast that they weren't in my field of vision until I turned back around. They braked in time, though.

Looking over your shoulder takes a lot of time. Adjust your mirrors and you'll rarely ever have to. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIkodlp8HMM

Why should the OPD bother chasing down purse thieves? How are they going to make money for the city by doing that, when they can go after people for speeding and parking violations instead and make lots of money?

Are you being serious? I can't tell.

I don't know why the guy is getting downvoted. It's a known city for having rather unpleasant police. Most of my friends who live in Oakland have really unpleasant experiences with their officers.


I tell them: At least it's not Vallejo. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/12/willie-mccoy...


Fines are how many cities stay solvent. The job of police in America, therefore, is not to keep the peace and provide justice, it's to be tax collectors for the city.

I've reported felony theft twice in Oakland and never even got a response from OPD.


"Eschew flamebait. Don't introduce flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say. Avoid unrelated controversies and generic tangents."



No, that applies pretty much everywhere except Japan.

This is neat! I once found someone’s debit card on the street (in the US). It had a small face shot on it, so I found them on Facebook and sent them a message. Of course, Facebook had already started doing the “messages from non-friends are really hard to find lol” UI dark pattern, so like two years later the woman responds thanking me, but also saying she just canceled the card. Which is what I would’ve done, but I at least wanted to provide some peace of mind or closure that it wasn’t stolen or anything.

A few years ago, I found a wallet at a New York subway station. The wallet had some documents (including driver's license), weed and a note saying "You are fool". I found the guy on Facebook. He didn't know anything about the note, but we figured it was written by someone who found the wallet before me. He or she took all the cash and left a note, lol. I threw out weed and mailed the owner all of his documents. He was the happiest man in the world on that day.


Please follow the site guidelines when posting here.



You realize that mailing weed is a federal felony, right?

It was obviously a joke.

"Giving" the weed to the owner of the wallet seems like it would be fraught with legal peril, even if the kind wallet returner were to try and do it as a "dead drop".

Would you mail weed to someone in the post? C'mon..

It's a crime to send drugs in the mail. I'm sure the owner understood avoiding that.

We had a woman visit a group I belong to from out of town, and I gave her and someone else a ride to a meeting. A couple hours later I found her debit card in my back seat.

I hate having to cancel cards. I'm still dealing with the echos of losing mine back in February[1] (right before moving!) and so I'm calling everyone in the group trying to get her contact info.

Turned out she hadn't even noticed it was gone yet.

[1] AT&T keeps silently cancelling my auto-pay on the new card and nobody can figure out why.

Nine hundred miles from home I spotted a driver's license in the snow from a chairlift on Snowmass Mountain. It was still there when I skiied back down. Imagine my surprise when it was for a neighbor who lived two blocks from me! It was only surpassed by my neighbor's surprise when I knocked on her door and handed her her son's driver's license.

I've found quite a few things over the years. Phones. Car keys. Cards. Wallets. I've run after people who left purses, bags, chargers, and even a guy who straight-up forgot his laptop on a table. The vast majority of the time, these things happen in some establishment with a lost-and-found I can turn items over to.

I have, though, found a half dozen credit/debit cards in the past two years outside of any good place to leave them (parking lots/garages, streets, sidewalks...). I guess I'm a good-samaritan with a healthy dose of paranoia/skepticism/cynicism. When there's no obvious place that I think the owner will know to look, I tell someone I know that I found it, and promptly cut the card up into fine pieces, mix them, split the pieces into a few groups, and dispose of them in a 4+ trashcans in different locations (this is probably excessive, but my goal is to dispose of the card with as much caution as I would get rid of my own card if I knew it could still be charged to.)

I have weighed trying to return them, but I ended up triangulating against the chances I'll: waste time tracking down someone who has already canceled the card anyways, send the card to the wrong person, completely creep someone out by tracking them down, or get caught with a card that has been reported stolen and have a hard time proving I didn't steal it.

Or worst case: A card that was stolen, used to empty the bank account and then dropped on the ground. You suddenly prime suspect.

You can do a picture search on Facebook?

They would have looked up the name and then found the matching profile pic to narrow it down.

Yup. It’s admittedly a bit unsettling, but people make their info public and I was trying to be helpful. Might as well try to use social media for some good, ya know?

Probably not natively/easily, but you can just do a reverse-image search on google, and it might lead you to a FB page.

"Dark pattern". Do you know how many unsolicited messages women receive on Facebook ?

This is a legitimate concern, but the way to combat isn't to silently hide messages behind unfamiliar UI. For a contrast, consider email junk filters, which generally serve a similar purpose but are accessible enough to easily scan through in case of legitimate messages being lost.

I've come across a type of scam where someone on a dating app like tinder will pose as an attractive person with the intention of trying to convince the victim to engage in sexually explicit texts or snapchats. Once they do, the scammer then looks up the friends of friends of the facebook profile associated with the number and then tries to blackmail the victim with threats of sending embarrassing texts to their closest friends. There are now TV commercials warning about it too. The best thing you can do is beg the scammer to post the texts, it really confuses the hell out of them and thanks to this facebook feature, the threat is greatly minimized.

Actually, the best thing you could do would be to not send someone pictures of yourself you wouldn't like shared. Also, the scammer could just add them as friends first.

Yes that would be the best thing but sometimes kids aren’t wise enough. Yes they could add all your friends, but the idea is to kill their incentive. After all they’re banking on you being ashamed for their blackmail to get money from you. Those that matter don't mind and those that do don’t matter.

They would still probably send nudes to your mother out of sadistic pleasure. Sometimes people get themselves into a situation where they have no good choices to make.

So what if they do? You can't let other people dictate your emotions or they will take advantage of you any way possible. That feeling of shame and embarrassment comes from within, not from the scammer, and therefore you have power over it, not them. There's no sadistic pleasure to be had if the victim doesn't care. If the victim doesn't care, why should the scammer waste their time? But just in case they do, good thing there's that facebook feature that hides messages from obscure users. By the time someone ever finds the message, you can just say it was a deepfake.

Just because it comes from within doesn't mean it's realistic to control it. People feel shame for complicated reasons, and to stop feeling shame about something would likely change parts of someone's personality. Maybe he or she thinks that only special people should see them nude? You can't just will that away. Plus, the perpetrator might be satisfied in knowing something like "now all her friends will know what a slut she is" or whatever those people tell themselves.

Not everyone is as "tough" as you. Learn to have empathy. Having your naked body sent to people you love is a grossly embarrassing proposition for most people.

Whatever, it's ridiculous I found years-old legitimate messages in there when I looked.

I once won one of those contests and didn't notice until half a year later. They were kind enough to send me an alternative prize.

If it's deceitful, I think it's fair to call it dark pattern, even if the deceit is done with good intentions.

Two tons and growing.

However, FB should have filters for those instead of grouping everyone in there.

It makes no sense that the person living in the same town as me with a genuine profile is in the same interface as accounts written in foreign languages with 1 friend and a creation date of two days ago.

I do, and most of them are gross (I’ve read a lot about what women deal with, and my women friends have told me as much). But I don’t know if the current solution is the best one. If I were a cynic I would say that Facebook does this intentionally because they want you to befriend someone to chat with them.

I doubt your comment has to be as gendered as it is.

> “messages from non-friends are really hard to find lol” UI dark pattern

You think you would do something different here? And you have considered all the possible ramifications of doing so? No doubt you've considered the impact on the number of spammy/scammy interactions that everyone experiences, the number of harassing messages that people around the world receive and you've made an informed trade-off between that and meaningful social interactions people have with the folks who find their wallet.

Seems like a pretty strong statement to call it a dark pattern, implying malice, when it could just be a good thing.

FB's solution to unsolicited messages and spam was basically to make messages from non-friends totally invisible. I wouldn't really call it a dark pattern, but they have broken the ability to send messages to anyone who is not your friend. It's pretty much a spam filter with with one binary parameter. It's just lazy.

Interesting point, I wonder if they can apply some logic into it, like if the sender is male and he's written to many female non-friends, give him a higher "probably junk" score. But if he's gotten good response rates his message is probably worth delivering.

FB probably already has data to know how much of a pervert someone is... if they linger on those beach pictures for too long, for example.


It _is_ a dark pattern. It prevents you from _knowing_ someone has messaged you. In 99,9% of cases you want to know someone sent you a message.

In 99.9% of cases you don't. It's mostly spam.

Facebook is a friend platform, not a stranger platform. Don't use it to message strangers, it's very explicitly not what the platform is designed for.

If email worked this way, the whole thing would collapse, because much of the time, you really do want to receive messages from new people. How would contacting a business work if their email system auto-rejected all messages from people not already known?

Sure, spam is a big problem, and that's why we've invented spam filters. Google was able to do that and it works well. Granted, Google is a huge company with lots of resources, but so is Facebook, so why can't they be bothered?

>Don't use it to message strangers, it's very explicitly not what the platform is designed for.

Wrong, it's designed to help people get in contact with each other. This doesn't mean everyone wants to be friends first before exchanging some messages.

This is what friend requests are for.

I don't want unsolicited messages from people. It's bad enough for me on LinkedIn, where that's the whole point.

When I still maintained a FB account, I had very few friends, basically family plus 2-3 others. I didn’t like the privacy problems.

Not everyone uses the tool the same way you do.

Tools don't exist in a vacuum. When a tool is a closed platform driven by a business, that business is going to heavy-handidly steer how the tool is used.

It isn’t always socially appropriate to friend request people, which is why I rarely do it (because I have no idea what the other person’s expectations are). If I’ve been introduced to a total stranger via Messenger, I don’t necessarily want to (nor should I have to) be their “friend” just to have them see my messages.

I guess I just have completely different use cases. Why would I want to read Facebook messages from complete strangers?

If I don't want them to be Facebook friends, then I'll give them my email.

> If email worked this way, the whole thing would collapse, because much of the time, you really do want to receive messages from new people.

Of course. But Facebook isn't e-mail. A closed system that thrives on heavily weighted social graphs is just nothing like an open standard for arbitrary message exchange.

> Wrong, it's designed to help people get in contact with each other.

Based on what? Have you used Facebook? Everything they do is about building and establishing communities, that's their business and they know it. They do almost nothing to help strangers communicate one-off. We are literally in the middle of a discussion about how Facebook gives low priority to messages from strangers, which is evidence that they have this mentality.

And that's why it will die or get nationalized like a water utility. A "friends" platform is inherently less scaleable than an "everyone" platform.

The whole world is on there. If I make my profile public I obviously intend to use it for people to find me.

Booting off the spammers seems like a much better idea to me.

This is literally the only thing I have used it for in the past 10 years. And it used to work well for that purpose.

If Facebook is not a stranger platform, then what are businesses doing there?

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