I saw that bag sitting there.
I asked around, as intructed by the omni-present WMATA ad campaign, “Is that your bag?” and all nearby Metro riders responded in the negative.
So what next?
The ads say to alert a Metro employee or the police. I’ve got the Metro police phone number plugged into my iPhone. But the train was moving, it was Friday evening, and this was a rarely-seen available seat on the Orange line.
I picked up the bag, carefully set it on the floor, and sat down next to the window. A woman sat next to me, between me and the mystery bag. She had seen the whole thing, yet had no fear.
She didn’t call the a Metro employee or the police.
Thoughts raced through my head:
- I can’t tell my friend who works at Homeland Security I did this.
- I can’t call Metro because I get no reception down here.
- If I call the driver from the call box at the end of the car, it will surely cause a panic and screw up my commute (as well as the Friday night commute for a lot of other people).
- That’s a nice lunch bag. It’s really something that should go in the lost-and-found. Do they have that any more?
- What if I just threw it out a door at a random station, in case it is a bomb?
- I guess if I threw a bomb out of a train I would get arrested at some point…
Luckily it never blew up. I got home safely, though full of guilt.
These Metro ad campaigns have me convinced that every lonely bag should be treated as a suspicious package. But this was not a suspicious package, according to common sense, and according to Metro’s definition. It was a small insulated lunch bag, with room for a drink, and it seemed obvious to me that someone had forgotten it. If it had been truly suspicious I would not have touched it or moved it.
What would you do?