It is easier than ever to find out information about people that you meet (as well as those you don’t) but the news seems to be more filled with horror stories about identity theft rather than tales of people going the extra mile to use information to help each other. And relying on the kindness of strangers is a gamble, as I recently found out.
Last Friday night I lost my ID card on Essex Road in Islington, London. I know where it fell out of my pocket, too. It was somewhere between my house and a well known supermarket where – for some reason – I still need to convince the cashier that I’m over 18 years old. It has become a ritual.
The next morning I scoured the same street, my eyes fixed on the floor while trying to find it. It was hopeless – someone had beaten me to it. So I tried the police, who had received nothing.
As I’m Brazilian (and my ID card is from France), replacing it in London is not an easy task. The whole process normally takes months and involves a lot of visits to consulates. Any foreigner living in London will know that consulates seem to operate at incomprehensibly inconvenient times and all of them seem to come with large queues and tough-to-take-on websites.
This inconvenience has got me thinking: where is my ID card now? Does someone have it and what are they doing with it? I’d consider myself unlucky to have dropped it right in front of one of Islington’s few masters of identity theft. Instead, chances are that a regular passerby has just happened upon it. So what would I have done had I seen someone else’s face staring up at me from a dropped driver’s licence or a forgotten passport? Search the details online? I have found a few ways that a kindly soul can contact me if they choose to. Sadly, nobody has.
The end point here is that my ID card is practically useless to whoever is currently in possession of it – unless, of course, they bear an uncanny resemblance to me and need to buy alcohol in Islington. It seems that in an age when it’s easier than ever to get in touch and return something to its rightful owner, there is less of an immediate inclination to do so. But if you do come across an ID card on the streets of London this weekend, please feel free to prove me wrong.
Gaia Lutz is a researcher for Monocle 24.