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07-19-2013, 12:46 PM - 6 Likes   #1
Heie's Avatar

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I Left My Camera Bag on a Train...

Yep, it happened. It really did...

I just recently finished a whirlwind Euro-trip traveling with my sisters (photos are comin - I will need a few weeks because catching up on the past two weeks' worth of work is obviously my priority). The itinerary was Germany (where I am currently living) to London to Dublin to Paris to Barcelona back to Germany. Before anyone gets on my case for not mentioning my travel plans here to do meet ups as I rightfully deserved in another thread, I apologize because until I got the comment, I regret to say that it never crossed my mind. The several weeks leading up to the initial flight out were incredibly hectic, and while I would have LOVED to meet for lunch, it simply slipped my mind. My most humble apologies as my previous meet-up experience with a PF member was nothing short of fantastic. But I digress...

We had just gotten off the plane from London and (for those that might know the area) were catching the DART from Dublin city to Clontarf Road, which was where our hotel was located. I of course didn't know the area, and instead of being my usual attentive self, my lethargy from traveling had made me slip up a bit - I didn't realize the stop until the train doors were opening. Casually looking up to the sign to see where we were, "CLONTARF ROAD" on the track platform resulted in "Crap! This is our stop!" We made it off the train without any issues and without causing delays thanks to having our stuff located right by the door and our seats right there as well. After surveying the area and what direction to take for about 2 seconds, as soon as we were about to move out along the platform and leisurely watch the train race past to the next stop, it hit me: "Where is my camera bag?" I was traveling with a large hiking backpack that was my luggage bag and my camera bag that was my cameras/lenses/snacks/flight papers/everything carry-on bag. As such, I would walk with the large pack on my back, and the little bag on my front, so the lack of the counterbalance in front threw me off.

And then it really hit me, despite my diligence to hide my soldierly ways in front of my 12- and 14-year old sisters: "OH F***!" I dropped my large pack and ran to the train doors that I just strolled through on the way out, snapping shut before I could reach them again.

The open button won't work. I can't force the door open.

I run 2 meters down the train to the large window we looked out from our seat when I saw it: my camera bag casually lying on the seat with no one around it. And then the train starts to move...

I start running after the train along the edge of the platform despite having severely ripped tendons in both my ankles (the left was a rock climbing accident a couple of months ago that refuses to heal, and the right was the result of catching a loose rock while doing a sprint workout up the side of a hill). The adrenaline causes me to feel no pain in either, as well as the delusion that I could somehow run faster than the train and reach the very front of it where the driver was and get him to stop the train. Oh, and I was in the rear-most train car in a train of over 15 cars.

I stand there, defeated, and watch the train race off into the distance, and disappear around a bend. Then it hits me! Run to the information desk and get them to contact someone on the train! "Oh please let there be someone in there!" I say to myself as I run up the steps to cross to the other side of the tracks (of course it would be on the opposite side), because let's face it: more often than not (at least in my experience), when you need someone at the information desk there's no one there. But thankfully, a heavily wrinkled albeit young man stood behind the counter.

"AGH! -- TRAIN! -- BAG! -- MY!" I say between gasps. Completely confused, he stares at me for a few seconds, which I took as my cue to repeat myself in a lucid manner. "Sir, I left my bag on the train. It has all of my photography gear in it, as well as my and my family's passports."

That's right, not only did my bag have my:
  • K-5 IIs
  • DA* 60-250mm*
  • DA* 16-50mm*
  • DA 18-135mm (yes I know there's overlap with the first two, but I had an extra slot in the bag and was trying it out as a travel lens)
  • FA 77mm
  • Sigma 8-16mm
  • Rokinon 8mm Fisheye
  • Metz 50 AF-1 P-TTL Flash
  • Sirui Travel Tripod w/ Arca Swiss L-Plate
  • Wireless Shutter Remote
  • Extra Batteries, ND Filters, etc.
* the two lenses replaced by Pentax for free as part of their superlative customer service.

in it, but also my and my two sisters' passports. The holy grail of things to NEVER lose.

Eyes growing incredibly wide, he picks up the phone and calls someone. He explains the situation to the person on the other end of the phone when I hear him say "Don't joke like that." He hangs up the phone and says "There's no one on the train other than the driver, and he can't stop the train. You will have to wait for it to reach the end of the line and then have my guy at Howth (the final stop) check to see if it's still there. I'm going to be completely honest with you - I don't think it will be there. That train is passing through some really bad areas."

And so the wait begins.

And continues.

And continues.

The phone rings, and I can't hear what he is saying, nor can I read the emotions in his face. He puts the phone on his shoulder and asks me to describe everything in the bag, which I do in a level of detail that would befit the most meticulously planned of military operations. I give the names on the three passports. And then it comes - the smile.

"I don't know how, but your bag has been found. Take the next train to Sutton (the stop before Howth), and see the guy behind the information desk." He let me on the train for free and let my sisters wait in the lounge with all our luggage so we didn't have to drag it back and forth.

By now my adrenaline had subsided and my ankles really start to throb, but my excitement numbs the pain. I get to the info desk and am ushered around the back to enter through the employee entrance. "Would you like to look to see if everything is there?" "Yes, please" as I display an ID card that would match the photo and name on my passport as proof of ownership.

I open it, go through every pocket, and not a single thing is missing. Not the photo gear, not the passports, nor the couple hundred Euros I had stashed in my Passport for safe keeping so I didn't have a lot of cash in my wallet.

"Just curious, and without meaning to be rude, but can I ask how much everything in that bag is worth?" he asks me. Still staring down at my lenses hiding their smiles behind their caps, I reply, "several thousand Euros."

"You are a very lucky man. Three girls came right in and said that they watched you chase the train and found your bag. They held onto it for the entire train ride to make sure no one else took it and got off here on their way to the beach and turned it in to me. They said they also tried calling your hotel because you had the hotel printout in the bag, but apparently you hadn't made it there yet." I saw those girls. I remember because they were all very pretty and were seated in the seats behind us. But they were very young, about 14, and starting their partying on the train as part of a larger group of about 15. So you can imagine my shock to hear of their level of integrity.

"Where are they now?" "They are on the beach, but you won't find them."

I legitimately stood there and considered combing the beach for a solid 10 seconds, and then realized that I couldn't leave my sisters by themselves any longer than necessary. Had I been entirely alone as I am used to traveling, I would have absolutely spent the entire day on the beach looking for them, but instead I left my contact information with the guy behind the desk and instructed him to keep a look out for them in the hopes they would get back to me.

I wanted to personally thank them, and take them out to dinner or even just offer than a substantial reward of about 100 Euros each as a sincere, humble appreciation for not only saving me from a photographic meltdown (because I wouldn't be able to recover from that loss, especially with my recent scam), but more importantly the passports. Yes, the photo gear was monetarily worth a substantial amount, but the loss of passports while traveling trumps that. While I was waiting at the train station, I prayed, despite not at all being a religious man. "Let everything be gone, let them swipe the camera and lenses, but I beg you to leave the passports." Oh, and the military orders authorizing me to be on leave and exit Germany were in there as well.

I may not be Irish, but the Luck of the Irish was felt that day and for the remainder of our vacation.


07-19-2013, 12:56 PM   #2
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If i were you, the next thing I would have done that day would be to buy a lottery ticket.

07-19-2013, 01:54 PM   #3
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What a crazy story that has a happy ending. I was really worried at the start of your story that it would turn out like that $3000 scam that happened to you in the spring. So, you lose some, you win some!
07-19-2013, 02:01 PM   #4
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[Insert tongue in cheek] They must have realised it wasn't full frame.

On a more serious note though, phew. Can't imagine the highs and lows you must have felt that day.

07-19-2013, 02:04 PM   #5
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Amazing write up! Glad it turned well I can hardly imagine how disastrous it would be otherwise.
07-19-2013, 02:11 PM   #6
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Wow, congratulations on the lucky recovery! I would have been sick with worry!
07-19-2013, 04:16 PM   #7
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I am glad that worked out for you! We had an experience like that in Prague when my wife's bag was lifted from under a table. Not much of real value in it except her camera (a Samsung P&S) with shots from Barcelona and her passport. Her passport was handed in to the British Embassy next day. I know the feeling of relief when a passport comes back!
07-19-2013, 05:46 PM   #8
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Dang Heie, you were lucky!
Perhaps at the hotel the girls will have left their number for you to call them back when they had your bag?

07-19-2013, 06:33 PM   #9
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Man, glad that story had a happy ending. I was feeling your pain just reading along.
07-19-2013, 08:35 PM   #10
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Makes me believe there's hope for humanity yet. I think the truth is 99% of us are just as honest as those girls, but it's nice to be reminded of all the good people in the world sometimes.

You are still pretty lucky.
07-19-2013, 08:44 PM   #11
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Glad you got lucky Heie.
I guess you'll be keeping your bag around your neck from now on....
07-19-2013, 08:57 PM   #12
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"I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart."
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07-20-2013, 06:42 AM   #13
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07-20-2013, 07:50 AM   #14
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Good to hear it all worked out well. Restores your faith in human nature.

I lost my camera and zoom when I left it at a Las Vegas casino bar on the floor. Got back to the place an hour later and it was still there, untouched, so I know the feeling.
07-20-2013, 08:59 AM   #15
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Well written - a true horror story, with a happy, heartwarming ending.

I would have been completely distraught - I've never had the best of luck and I would never have seen my camera again, I'm sure. Rather oddly perhaps, I have a panic/rape alarm rigged to my bag via a cord that is attached to my clothing, so if it gets left behind, I'd know straight away with ear-piercing certainty!

Thanks for sharing!


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