Then 13, she'd insisted on bringing her new iPod on a family trip to the aquarium, and as we were leaving she suddenly realized that she no longer had it. I retraced our entire path through the aquarium and checked with the lost and found. (It turned out the aquarium didn't always keep everything in its central lost and found, so I was directed to visit the guard station on each floor as well as the lost and found.)
No iPod anywhere. She was teary in the way that a 13-year-old girl can be. Our only hope was that the person who'd found her iPod was an honest soul, since her first name and phone number were engraved on the iPod.
The next day a man from Annapolis, about half an hour from us, had her iPod. I arranged to stop by his house that Saturday and retrieve it, repeatedly thanking him and telling him how relieved and happy our daughter would be.
That Saturday our son wanted to take a drive with me, so we went to Annapolis together. When we arrived at the address we'd been given no one was there, but a note on the door said the man who'd called us would be back in a minute.
He was, and after greeting us he went inside, got the iPod, and came back out.
That's where the trouble began. He began lecturing me about being careless, hiw lucky I was that he'd been the type of person who would call about and return lost property, and how the aquarium was no place to bring an iPod.
When he paused I repeated that the iPod was our daughter's, not mine, and that I was the wrong person to lecture. His response? He lectured me more. Our son, then 11, just stared at him. This guy was a Good Samaritan Maniac.
Finally he ran out of steam and we escaped. I lead footed it out of his neighborhood.
When we were halfway home our son, who'd been silent all this time, finally gave voice to what was on his mind. "Dad," he said. "It would have been easier just to buy a new iPod."