It was Saturday night in Santa Monica. The sidewalks and restaurants teemed with hipsters and vagrants. Music blared out of pubs. My friends and I had just finished sipping C’est La Vie cocktails and were walking back to our cars several blocks away.
At the corner of Main and Pacific, we stepped into the crosswalk. That’s when I saw it: something black and rectangular in the middle of the street. I picked it up. It was an iPhone.
Someone must really be stressed right now, I thought. I swept my finger across the screen to reveal a photo of a pretty blonde woman flanked by an older couple. Her family, I assumed.
I tried to make a call on the phone to find its owner, but access was blocked. Password protected. I couldn’t call to return it. But I couldn’t just toss it back on the pavement either. So I held on to it, hoping someone would call soon.
After saying goodbye to my friends, I got in my car to head home. A few minutes later, the iPhone buzzed.
“Hey,” an anxious female voice said from the other end. “Do you have my phone?”
I told her yes, and I’d bring it to her. So I turned the car around, and for the next five minutes, we stayed on the phone together as she described her location. As I drove, I kept her updated on the cross streets I was passing on my way to her. I was getting closer.
“Thank you so much,” she kept repeating.
Finally, I arrived at the destination and spotted her: the blonde from the iPhone screen, standing on the corner, friend’s phone pressed to her ear. We caught each other’s eyes.
I pulled over, parked my car, and got out. We walked up to each other and I handed her the phone. She thanked me profusely. We stared at each other.
“I’m sorry, but…can I hug you?” she asked.
So we reached out and pulled each other into a soft hug. Two strangers embracing quietly on the packed sidewalk. We separated, then stood there in silence, wondering what to do next.
What’s the protocol in this situation? I’m single and she seemed cool. And we’d been brought together by serendipitous circumstances.
Should I ask for her number? See if she wants to be a Facebook friend? Something?
I didn’t want to let the moment slip by. But I also didn’t want her to think I was a sleazebag angling for her number. So I just smiled…and got back in my car.
As I drove away, I watched her disappear into the crowd in my rearview mirror. And I wondered: Did I just miss an opportunity? A divine appointment?
If it was truly God’s will that we meet, couldn’t He connect us again in the future?
But what if He had just orchestrated this meeting, and I blew it?
Maybe I played it too safe. After all, we can’t expect God to work in our lives if we just stand back and do nothing. Or as an old preacher friend of mine said, “God can’t steer us if we’re not even driving the car.”
Looking back, what’s the worst that could have happened? She wasn’t interested and I felt rejected for a few hours? Or she said she had a boyfriend and that settled that? Who knows? We never even exchanged names.
We were just two strangers connected by the chance drop of a cellphone. Maybe it could have been more. Guess we’ll never know.