Things That Pretty Much Suck

My absence from the Internet was a bit longer than I had anticipated today, for one genuinely depressing reason: I left my travel bag in  the taxi that took me to my hotel from the airport, and that bag included my computer and some other stuff (including my car key). So my day was spent procuring alternate computing resources (say hello to my new cheap netbook) and generally being a bit pissed off.

Before you ask: I have no idea what cab it was that brought me in, its number or anything else. If anyone in the DC area can tell me which cab companies use black cabs (regular cars, not limos) I would be obliged. Otherwise, I’m pretty much stuck hoping the cabbie who drove me around remembers who I am or otherwise uses the various clues in the bag (the computer that has my name on it when one tries to log on, the books with my name on the cover, etc) to locate me. Whiile not assuming anything about my cabbie’s honesty, let’s just say I’m really expecting him to be a super sleuth, although I’d be happy to be wrong.

In any event: DC, I’m not feeling the love, I have to say. That is all.

58 Comments on “Things That Pretty Much Suck”

  1. Yuck. Did you by any chance have the Find My Mac feature on in the iCloud pref panel? IF so, hit and login with your Apple ID. The menu icon says Find My iPhone, but it should show all of your registered devices.

  2. Having done something similar recently, I can say that sting lasts for a while. (Delta, you really didn’t find that laptop in the seat back? It was well-enough hidden I didn’t see it there, but not well enough to vanish entirely.) It also made me very glad that I had recently moved all my in-progress and recent items to Dropbox and/or Google Docs. I ended up more concerned about password changes and protecting my online accounts from being hacked than I was about the machine itself (hello iPad and Zagg Folio with keyboard) or loss of work. I think our host was mostly working cloud-based as well?

  3. Call the Lost and Found
    Lost & Found

    Items found by the driver of a District of Columbia taxicab are returned to the Taxicab Commission.

    To determine if your item/s are located at the Taxicab Commission, please do one of the following:

    Call the Commission at (202) 645-6018 between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm EST.
    Fax the Commission at (202) 889-3604.
    Email the Commission:

  4. Sympathies on the loss. If you used American Express to pay for the cab you may be able to call AmEx customer support and have them track down the cab for you (or so their Chief Service Officer claimed in a recent Fortune magazine article). If you used VISA, umm, maybe? If you paid cash, your hotel concierge might be able to help, or at the very least should know which DC cab company uses black cabs.

  5. Wouldn’t it be great if someone at the DC Taxicab Commission was a sci-fi fan or a follower of The Whatever? – and they recognized Mr. Scalzi’s name as belonging to a person-of-importance?
    Hey, miracles do happen … wishing for one this time!

  6. egads, I hope that was not caused by being distracted monitoring this blog site.

  7. Coming from the airport you’re actually in luck. The main company that runs black cabs from Dulles to DC is the Washington Flyer. There are a couple minor carriers, but chances are it’s this one — cabs in DC are usually either within the city or to the airport, so it narrows it down pretty well.

  8. I was going to say Washington Flyer as well. I think that is your best bet.

  9. The interesting thing here, John, is that you are not complaining of losing the last three chapters of your latest novel, simply for the reason that backup (I presume) is now in the cloud or otherwise so simple that losing a physical computer is an inconvenience, not a catastrophe (as it would have been a few years ago.)

  10. Before I did all my writing on computers, and xerox machines were available, I twice lost only copies of complete novel manuscripts before I was 20 years old. They weren’t very good, but I Feel Your Pain.

    Battling bureaucracies sucks. Yesterday, 54 weeks after the criminal assault & battery that wrecked my knee, by a gangster student later convicted, the slow process of a Workers Compensation attorney finally got me knee examined by an orthopedic surgeon.

    Tomorrow morning I’ll represent my wife in the re-appeal of a Food Stamp matter from 1999 (13 years ago) that rose like a zombie when the state agency lost the documents that proved that they admitted having zero basis for their false claims against me and my wife, which cost us $2,500 in CPA fees. The state accused my wife of fraudulently pretending to be unemployed. This is a re-appeal, because in the first two appeals, I was not allowed to present the 100+ pages of evidence that my wife has having cancer surgery and treatments at the time, and I’d lost my job while tending to her.

    Last weekend our car was towed (10 minutes too long at a parking place) and we were charged an extra day of storage because the parking industry entity to which the city outsources for extra revenue gave me erroneous information, preventing our picking it up on the day of towing.

    In the long run, I am a smart, diligent, organized ex-paralegal who can win in front of a judge. But the other 99.9% of Americans are screwed when bureaucrats are in the mood to deny Constitutionally protected Due Process.

    So I am reporting on the matters; not complaining. Or as Oscar Wilde cynically put it, “The good end happily and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

  11. Going to the airport anywhere near Dulles probably would have been a Washington Flyer or a Dulles Taxi; they both have black cars. There are more taxi companies going into Reagan National, but your hotel would likely have a good idea of what cabs stop there and which ones are black. These companies do lost and found; I left something in a Washington Flyer once when I was living there.

  12. If the hotel has security cameras on the entry/dropoff, they might have caught the either plate of the cab or some other info. Worth a check.

  13. The taxi dispatch service number for National is 703-417-4333 which might be able to hook you up. (703) 417-0981 is the number they list for ‘further service’.

  14. I have no suggestions; only sympathy, and a sincere wish for an unexpected plot-twist Happy Ending.

  15. The cab companies going out of National vary by destination. If your hotel was in DC, you’ll have used a DC company… if in Northern Virginia, then a Virginia company. So, keep that in mind while searching. Last I heard, there was just one company that operated the Red Top, Blue Top and Yellow cabs in Virginia, so if you’re here in VA, it’ll possibly be one-stop shopping.

  16. On the plus side… you weren’t actually _mugged_ or anything. And hey! Shiny new net book! Hope your stuff turns up though… we just got back from USVI St John’s, and one of our group lost their camera with an entire week’s worth of photos of a vacation in paradise stored in the memory card.

    Sounds like you can find the cab company at least. And if they say “Nope!” I’m calling shenanigans.

  17. Take cold comfort in knowing that, regardless of whatever first world problems beset you, your life is still on the lowest difficulty setting….. unless you start wandering foolishly around in certain DC neighborhoods.

  18. Dude, that just sucks. Could it be that a new habit is in order? Example: When drying hands in a public lav, on the count of three: Stop. And visually verify that the wedding band is still on the appointed finger and not in the trash with the towel (Yes, this happened to wa-tash in Japan but I was insanely lucky). Generalize and extrapolate for your travel. Example: When leaving the seat, any seat, be it plane or restaurant, take two steps and turn around and really look. Added that one to my SWM cheat codes a while back when I lost a hat and it was cold outside… Good luck and consider using Google docs.

  19. John, in case you haven’t found this info yet, the phone number for the taxi services office at National: (703) 417-0981 . IIRC, the black cabs that service the Alexandria area are from King Cab: 703-549-3530. – hope this helps.

  20. I really want to hear a happy ending to this tale. Here’s hoping luck finds you, and your stuff gets back to your sir.

  21. John, I feel for you. The cab system in DC is a national disgrace. There are very few cab companies as such, just voluntary associations to procure insurance. The drivers have a powerful lobby, and were instrumental in putting the current mayor in office because the previous one wanted to move DC to a system at least closer to those in civilized nations.

    One hope is if you used a credit card: those cabs are part of a company and can be tracked. If you used a cash only cab, it’s one of the gypsies, and your stuff is probably already pawned.

  22. Red Top Cabs have red tops (duh), but the cars are usually black. They service DCA and actually have a pretty good lost and found. (It worked for me and an errant glove, once)

    Lost and found: 703-247-5100 or by email

    Not likely, but probably worth the call.

    Also, for a little more DC love, might I suggest checking out Jaleo in Crystal City (isnt that where the SFWA thing is being held?) Great restaurant that should be within more or less walking distance and it has really authentic tapas.

  23. I’ve never been in your specific situation, but I did super-geniously once leave my passport AND wallet at an aiport security gate, so I know that “gut-punch” feeling when the reality hits. I found out there are truly nice & honest people in this world (or at least at Schiphol Airport) , & hopefully things turn out the same for you.

  24. Best of luck. Lost my computer and a host of other things when our rental car was broken into last year while on vacation. Did the same as you: picked up Walmart’s finest, cheapest netbook and got back to work.

    Go to the Air & Space Museum – that’ll cheer anyone up.

  25. Hope your laptop is returned.

    For future reference, it might be worth checking out Prey. Your laptop can send you reports if it ever gets stolen and plugged back into the internet (without a full system wipe, that is, but still – better than nothing).

    It’s free for a certain number of devices, and open source.

  26. I once left a pair of glasses in an Alamo rental car. They found them, tracked me down at the airport somehow, and delivered the glasses to me before I got on the plane. I hope you have similar luck.

  27. If you paid with a credit or debit card, check your statement online–it should have at least the name of the company, and heck, maybe they are even putting on cab numbers these days.

  28. Man, that sucks. I hope you have a pleasant surprise and somehow they find you and get it back to you.

  29. If you were going into DC itself and the cab was solid black with white lettering on the door it was probably an “independent” cab. As I understand it they are generaly owned by the driver and may not have a Cab company they report to, although there may be an association of some sort.
    At national they always try to put you into a cab from the locality you were going to so if you were going to DC you would get a DC cab, VA, a Virginia cab. That should help you narrow down the companies to contact.

    The Concierge at your hotel can also sometimes be very useful inthese types of situations. I have found in my travels they can help with a lot of local problems.

    Good Luck!

  30. @Stebun: Next level, a couple more points into Perception?

    Having done exactly this, in NYC, fifteen years ago, I can say from experience: this event IS the leveling-up point. It’s a mistake one is very careful never to make twice.

  31. [Deleted because among other things Gerrymander made assumptions not in evidence from the text. Gerrymander, go be stupid somewhere else, please — JS]

  32. I hope you recover your property, and data therein resident.

    My 54 months of paperwork and legal expenses resulted in a phonecall this afternoon scheduling me for physical therapy at a sport injury clinic in West Covina.

    L.A. County Department of Social Services, in the re-hearing this morning, could not deny my documents that $130 had been garnished from my wife and my taxes, nor explain where they
    had applied the money, so the judge ordered the county to reimburse us. The judge said that it was too late to revisit the original insanity by the department from 1999, but admitted that I have the right to sue the department (and the employees who lied under oath, and lost or destroyed documents) in Superior Court. I probably won’t. I made my point, in winning on a matter of principle. Plus doing Science and writing Science Fiction is MUCH more fun than courtroom drama over about $3,000 in real damages.

    I’m sure that we have had other, worse problems before, and that many of our readers have far worse things happening in their lives right now.

    May you and I both win against the insidious forces of entropy!

  33. You don’t have a receipt from your cab ride? How do you expense/write off this stuff without them (assuming this trip isn’t person in nature)?

  34. And as noted above, IAD and DCA both only allow outgoing taxi service via Washington Flyer, so yeah, since you were coming from the airport, and assuming you followed the signs to “Taxi”, you should have been in one of theirs.

  35. From National if you went directly to the hotel where the Nebs are … well, you never entered DC. Always in Commonwealth of Virginia. & by the way the Nebs are very much in Virginia … the hotel is located on Jefferson Davis Highway (aka Rt 1). Use to live not too far from all of that …

    Anyway, i do hope your stuff is located.

  36. I think in an emergency, I’d run to the nearest Apple store and grab an Ipad. For just email and surfing, while on the road, they do the trick pretty well.

  37. “And as noted above, IAD and DCA both only allow outgoing taxi service via Washington Flyer”

    That’s only true at IAD (you can verify this at if you don’t believe me); National has no such restriction. I believe there’s also an exemption for cabs dropping someone off at IAD being allowed to make a single pickup but I can’t find mention of it.

%d bloggers like this: