I work at a place where most of our work occurs out of town at worksites in remote areas. A lot of our employees are daddies who have to go away from their families for three weeks at a time to earn their living. It's the trade-off for living in a beautiful place like Vancouver Island; few people are able to live AND work here.
Once a week, we have a teleconference with all of our sites. Each site usually has to share something safety-related that they learned that week. One of our employees started off by telling us about the importance of doing a walk-around of your vehicle before you get in and drive. He learned this the hard way, because someone had neglected to close the tailgate of the pick up he was driving. "When I got to the hotel," he said, "I realized all the kits were still in there... but my suitcase was gone."
And then he continued to say how he'd lost his clothing, his work supplies and gear... and then his voice broke when he got to the part about how he'd lost all the little mementos that his children had given him "for when daddy has to go to work."
And my heart broke.
Last weekend, on a long shot, I posted a message on Facebook with the situation, a description of the suitcase, and a map of the general area of where it might have been lost. I asked people to share it, in the hopes that it might get to the right person. It got shared and shared and shared, and I had a little tiny hope that something might come of it in a couple of weeks.
Yesterday, I got an email with a message that said, "We found the suitcase you are looking for." It had a phone number and a name.
I called. The lady who answered told me how she had seen the suitcase fall out of the pick up, and how she retrieved it and tried to find the owner. She told me how she'd opened it up in the hopes she'd find a name and some kind of contact details. She found the work gear, the clothes, and the little gifts from his children. She didn't know what to do with it, until she had seen this post that had eventually been shared to a community page she frequented on Facebook.
I have never made a more rewarding phone call as the one I made to the owner of the suitcase.
And you know what I'm so happy about? I'm happy that this thing we call the Internet was used for something really, really good. I must stress: I posted this message from here in Vancouver Island, about something that was lost 1,235km from here (about 740 miles). And it got to the right person.
In an age where people use the Internet to voice opinions that they don't necessarily have to stand behind...
Where people can anonymously post videos of people doing horrible things to others...
Where it is used to share hurtful, painful thoughts...
What if we tried to make sure we didn't give air time to the bad stuff out there, and we remembered to use this thing we have for the good stuff?
For words of encouragement, inspiring stories, beautiful photos of our families, things that make us smile and think and create...
What if we did? What a truly wonderful global community we might create.