These events occurred in 2010. It remains one of my favorite holiday season stories.
My Bose headphones help me maintain sanity on long, crowded flights. They’re a “must pack” for every trip. I’ve even raved on my blog about my fantastic customer service experience at a Bose store, and a visit to their corporate headquarters.
Imagine my despair on a recent Friday night, as I was unpacking my briefcase, and noticed that my headphones were missing! And my iPod! I used a strap to attach the carrying case to my briefcase, but the catch had slipped. I went back out to my Jeep, hoping the case was on the floor. It wasn’t.
In my mind, I retraced my steps earlier that night. I remembered packing the headphones and attaching the carrying case at the end of my flight. Then I walked through the terminal to the parking garage and loaded my bags in the Jeep. No stops on the way home. The case must have fallen while I was on the plane or on the way to my car.
I started the phone calls. First to the airline, but their “Lost & Found” department was closed until Monday morning. The next call was to Logan Airport. I navigated through the options until I was connected to their “Lost & Found”, which is run by the State Police. The recorded instructions said to leave a voice mail with a description of the item, and if it was found, someone would call me. I went to bed with little hope of seeing my headphones again.
On Saturday morning, I walked into my home office and noticed that the message light was blinking on the phone. The message was from a man with a distinctive Boston accent. “Hello Mr. Fallon. My name is Connie O’Callahan, and I work at Logan Airport. I found your Bose headphones and iPod in the parking garage, and would like to get them back to you. I live in Charlestown, and noticed that you live in Southborough. Perhaps we can meet somewhere in between. Please call me at ###-###-####, so I can arrange to return your property to you.”
I couldn’t believe it! I forgot that I put a business card inside the carrying case. From the time-stamp on the voice mail, Mr. O’Callahan had called before I even arrived home. Because of the late hour, I hadn’t gone into my office.
I called Mr. O’Callahan’s home, and a relative answered. Connie was still sleeping, having worked a double-shift at the airport. I explained who I was, and was told that my headphones were on the kitchen table. They took my number, and said that Connie would call me later.
A few days went by before I received a call back. Connie hadn’t seen the message, and was wondering why I hadn’t called him. When he did call, he apologized for the delay, stressing that he wanted to return my property. I made it clear I appreciated his honesty, and looked forward to meeting him. We agreed that I pick up the headphones during my next trip to the airport.
At the end of my next trip, I went to the parking garage and spoke to an attendant. I asked if Connie O’Callahan was working, and if he would page him. The attendant called Connie on the 2-way radio, and told him I was there. Connie was working in another terminal, but would meet me at the garage office in 15 minutes.
At last my chance to shake this man’s hand and thank him. Connie reiterated that he could tell the headphones were expensive, and wanted to personally ensure that they were returned to me. I expressed my thanks again, and let him know that I appreciated him tracking me down.
If I believed all that I read or saw on the news, airport employees are part of a conspiracy to lose my luggage, harass me or violate my privacy. Certainly they wouldn’t help someone who dropped something in the parking garage.
And Connie’s from Charlestown, the working class neighborhood in Boston that’s the setting for Dennis Lehane’s crime novels and the Ben Affleck movie, The Town. Surely the people who live there are bank robbers and gangsters, not the type of people who find a set of headphones and return them to their owner.
But Connie O’Callahan, the Massport employee from Charlestown, is the hero of this story. Not because he was honest, but because he went the extra mile. Connie took personal responsibility for the situation. Thinking about the other person, he made sure my property was returned.
During this time of year, we’ll be bombarded with many messages. Blended in with the reports of sales and discounts will be stories of people like Connie. Decent, honest people who’ll touch the lives of strangers with their thoughtfulness and generosity. A few of these stories may make the news, but most will take place in the anonymity of our everyday lives.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Connie O’Callahan.
I know. Because I’ve met him.