THE STORY BEHIND ‘THE FOUND CAMERA’
“Good deeds should happen more often”
On a daily basis working in retail, customers would leave all sorts of things behind when they walk out of a fitting room. Mostly just empty coffee cups (perhaps because some people have it in their head that retail staff are also slaves to clean up after you)… but from time to time you would get the odd mobile phone or camera left behind, so when a camera was found in a fitting room one day in June 2015 and put in a drawer for someone to claim it wasn’t anything new or shocking.
I wasn’t the one who originally found this camera and it took me a few days to even notice it sitting in the drawer, but, as the store manager, it was my responsibility to follow it up. I questioned some of my team about it, and one jokingly said that they wanted to sell it to pay their rent (I say jokingly, but question as to whether there was a very big part that was in fact serious). So I knew I had to act fast, I turned the camera on to discover that it belonged to a family who had been holidaying in Australia from India, and it had their entire holiday documented on the device. Call me crazy but I have a conscious and I knew I couldn’t just leave it. I had 2 options here, I could have taken it to lost property and let the authorities do their thing, but looking at the circumstances it would never have been claimed. My other option, which I thought was a little ‘out there’, was to find the family and return it back to them somehow. As you may be able to guess I went with the ‘out there’ option.
Facebook can be a powerful Social Media platform that has the ability to reach a large audience very quickly, and I thought this was the best option to find them. After much thought I decided to post 5 Images from the Camera along with a quick summary of the situation, hoping a few people might be able to share it and help find the family. The post read….
“First of all, for this to work I need everyone to share/like this post and get your friends, friends of friends etc. to do the same.
On the 9th June 2015, a family on holiday from India came into my Superdry store at Emporium Melbourne, and unfortunately they left behind a very expensive camera with their entire Australian holiday snaps on them. As someone who has a heart and also travels often, I know that if I was in this situation I would be devastated. Lots of memories that this family has now lost and I really want to make it my mission to find them.
I don’t know much more than that they were on their way to the airport after leaving my work, and am unsure where they headed to from Melbourne.
I have attached 5 photos from the camera, however their SD card isn’t compatible with my computer, so photos taken from the camera onto my iPhone are the best I could do.
Please guys – do me a favour and share this. I am friends with people on here who not only have a lot of friends/followers, but people on different parts of the world. The more exposure this gets, the more chance i have of tracking them down. Call it my good deed for the year.”
That night I went to bed thinking it will probably get shared a couple of times and I’ll delete the post in the morning out of pure embarrassment, however, when I woke up to check my phone I found that it had been shared 16 times. “Oh well, at least I tried” I thought to myself and went off to work. Throughout the day I was surprised to learn that I now had over 5000 Facebook friend requests and the more I declined them the more they came through. I had also received a phone call at work from someone who works for SBS radio, a multicultural broadcasting service in Australia asking me to be on his radio show. While I was flattered, at the time I couldn’t understand how this guy had seen the post and he told me a friend of his had shared it. I thought more than likely he must be friends with someone I know, as there would have been no other way he could have seen it.
When I got home from work that night I still had thousands of friend requests on Facebook, all from people living in India or within the community and it just wasn’t adding up. I logged onto Facebook on my laptop and suddenly realised that the data the mobile app gives you is very different to what it tells you on the computer. When I clicked on the post I was shocked to see it had been shared over 50,000 times in less than 24 hours and it was going up in the thousands every 5 minutes.
By this stage I was now aware the friend requests were from people trying to contact me, to let me know that what I was doing was a good deed and also that the owner of the camera had been trying to contact me but due to my privacy settings on Facebook, they were unable to get in touch.
What followed was media reports, talking on national radio and reporters emailing me wanting to report on the story. For me the main priority was to simply give the camera back to the family… of which I was finally able to do via a friend of theirs in Melbourne. While having your 5 minutes of Social Media fame might be the main focus for a lot of people, the outcome I wanted was achieved and the rest was an added bonus.