Anchal was waiting at the bus stop for her office cab. It was already 8.15am and there was no sign of her cab. She suddenly hears her phone ring from her bag. She just tosses her laptop bag to the other shoulder and picks the call from the unknown number. “Madam, tyre puncture. You go bus madam” the cab driver managed to say the little bit English he knew. Anchal was furious. She just disconnected the call. If she knew the cab driver was going to ditch her last minute she would have as much driven to office in her scooter. Now she had no time to walk back home and get it as she was already late.
Anchal hated bus rides. First and foremost, it was going to be overly crowded at this hour and secondly she would have to spend 45min to 1 hour of the journey to office , standing in the bus. She couldn’t think of any other alternative. She had to get to office before her meeting at 9.30am. She diligently hopped onto the next bus.
As expected, the bus was over crowded, all just patiently waiting to get out of the closed enclosure. Anchal paid her bus fare. She struggled and managed a place for herself among the standing crowd.
It was barely 5min into her bus journey and her shoulders were already hurting. She decided to keep her laptop bag near the luggage area next to the driver. There were many laptop bags lying there similar to hers. “Ahh, everyone is going to have an eye on their own bag. I shouldn’t stress out” she thought to herself. She took out her headphones from her bag and started listening to some music to relax herself.
The traffic was enormous considering the peak office travel time. Anchal checked the time on her wrist watch. It was 9.20am. If she sprinted right after she got off the bus she would be in time for the meeting at 9.30am. Anchal took the laptop bag in her sight and geared up to get off the bus and race to her office building.
It was 9.25am, a breathless Anchal had managed to reach the conference room just in time. She decided to start off her laptop and go to the pantry to quickly grab a cup of coffee to get her thru the meeting.
She mindlessly opened the bag, while talking to her colleague. She couldn’t find her laptop. Well, Anchal always kept her laptop in the last zip. She turned to look into the bag, the laptop wasn’t there. Anchal was too confused to react. Her colleague saw her confusion. “I hope you did not leave your laptop at home Anchal. The presentation is on your laptop.” said her colleague adding onto her situation. She checked the other zipper of the bag. “Ahh.. there you are. But how did you get there. I never use this zipper to keep the laptop” Anchal talking to herself. She took the laptop out of the bag and opened it to start of the system. That’s when realization struck her.
“THIS IS NOT MY LAPTOP!!!!” she gasped out loud. “And this isn’t my laptop bag either!!!!” Anchal was in a state of shock. The meeting was going to start in less than 2min and she did not even have her laptop with her. “OH NO!! She had picked up someone else’s bag from the bus!!” It looked like she was almost going to cry.
Her team was walking in one by one. She was almost having a panic attack. She couldn’t think clearly. Her mind blank. “What was she going to do? How was she to find her own bag… how was she to find the owner of this bag? She did not even know the vehicle number of the bus she got on too. How is she going to track? Who was she going to call?” Questions racing her mind, none of which she had answers too.
It was 9.30am and her team lead walked in bang on time. She looked at him. Her eyes all welled up like a small child. She had prepared for this meeting since a week and now she did not even have her presentation for the meeting.
Her team lead sensing something wrong by the look on Anchal’s face, gave her questioning look asking “What happened?” with just his facial expressions. Anchal could hold it in no more. “Vikram, I don’t have my laptop” and she began to cry. Her lead was too surprised but immediately came towards her chair and tried to calm her down. He once again asked her, this time verbally “what happened?” This time she was narrating her story to the entire team, sobbing in between intervals. From the moment she got the call from the cab driver until now.
“Ok, first you got to relax. We will try to figure out a way.” Her team lead Vikram, immediately opened up the bag and started searching inside to find some details of the owner. He found a wallet and a pouch which had a passport and a ticket. “Looks like the person whose bag you’ve taken also will be looking for you. He or she has all their important belongings in here”
From the passport, they figured out the owner of the bag was a Shalini. There was no contact number of the owner that they could find in the wallet. By now, the entire conference room of 10 people were into the case of the missing laptop bag. Anchal took the wallet and tried to search for some hidden compartments where she could get any contact number or company information of the laptop bag owner. She found an almost tattered business card.
A sudden excitement in the conference room. Something was better than nothing thought the whole crowd unanimously. Anchal called up the number on the business card. Luckily for her, the person picked up the call. She explained the whole situation to the person on the phone. “Ok… ok… ok…” that’s all Anchal was saying on the phone. She ended the call with a “Please do.. Thank you. I will be waiting for your call.”
All her team mates were now staring at her with curiosity filled in their eyes. It was almost like a drama unfolding in front of their eyes on a Monday morning. “The guy on the phone was an ex-colleague of the laptop bag owner” she updated. “Shalini u mean” corrected her team lead Vikram. Anchal looked at Vikram, trying to say, “Does that even matter?” but she said it in her head. “He said that he would get in touch with someone and try to contact “Shalini” and get back to me” this time she added the stress on Shalini.
For the next few minutes, almost everyone was anticipating the call back. It was already 10am and it did not look their meeting was going to happen. But now Anchal had a bigger worry in her mind. She was just hoping that “Shalini” had her laptop bag as it was her company’s property. And if she did not find it in the next few minutes, she would have to report it, which would be a bigger mess for her.
Almost immediately, her cell phone rang. She picked the call within the 1st ring. The caller introduced herself as Shalini.
With a trembling voice, Anchal asked “I have your laptop bag, do you have mine?”
“Are you Anchal?” asked Shalini
“Yes Yes!” almost anticipating a confirmation.
“Then I do have your laptop bag” confirmed Shalini. Anchal finally breathed a sigh of relief.
Shalini had got off at a stop before Anchal’s. She had mistaken Anchal’s bag for her own and in a hurry left with Anchal’s bag. Both the ladies coordinated to meet up immediately to exchange their bags.
Vikram officially declared the meeting cancelled at 10.15am sensing his team members just lazing out on a Monday morning with the excuse of Anchal’s missing laptop bag. The grumpy faces of the team members dragged themselves out of the conference room and back to their back work stations. “I will send you all an updated meeting request once Anchal is back in office” said Vikram on his way out ahead of the team.
Anchal finally met Shalini and got her laptop back. This time she double checked at the meeting point itself to be sure. It was her bag. The ladies just laughed it off at their little mix-up and bid goodbye to each other.
Anchal walked straight up to Vikram’s desk the moment she got back to the office to apologize for her blunder. On the contrary, Vikram was chilled out about the whole situation. “I have rescheduled the meeting for tomorrow, if that is ok with you Anchal?” he inquired. “Absolutely Vikram. Thanks a lot” and she began to walk towards her work station.
“Just make sure you get “your own” laptop bag to the meeting room tomorrow Anchal…” he looked at her and laughed. Understanding the sarcasm, she too laughed away…