Jul 11 2009
Some encounters are almost too strange to believe. That doesn’t make them any less real.
I was walking down the street in San Francisco at lunch time Friday afternoon. As I came up to a busy street corner I saw a paper grocery bag sitting on a bench with no one around it. I walked up to the bag and peeked in to find three external hard drives, one Maxtor and two brands I didn’t recognize. The drives looked like they were either well used or the product of a dumpster dive. I knocked on the door of the one business nearby, but no one answered. After a few minutes someone came out who worked in the building; he said there’d been a break-in recently but that he didn’t know anything about the drives. I tried to call Rich for advice, but he was busy so I decided I’d finish my walk to lunch and think on the situation for a little while.
One burrito later, I walked up on the scene again. This time a homeless man in dirty, ripped slacks was surveying the bag of hard drives. He looked around much like I had done thirty minutes earlier, then scuttled up to the bag and pulled out one of the external hard drives. After sniffing it for a second, he licked one side of the drive and put it back in the bag. He then ran over to a parking meter and licked it, licked the taillights on both sides of an SUV and vanished from my sight behind the car.
I lost any interest in the hard drives at that point. That takes mom’s caution of “you don’t know where that’s been” to a whole new level.
Saliva incident aside, what would you do if you found a bag of hard drives in a park or public place? Calling 911 didn’t seem appropriate, though there is a slim possiblity of explosives. Taking the drives home and performing some forensics research on them crossed my mind; I have the technology if not much skill in the area. I tried to turn them in to the business, but there was no one there. I guess the gentlemen with the inquisitive taste buds saved me from a moral dilema.
What would you have done?