Almost exactly six hours after I first sent out the social media query, the Twitterati sleuths provided an answer: My mystery woman had a name (Vasilisa Smith) and yes, the missing white AirPod belonged to her.
To start from the beginning: I was on my way to work Monday morning when I noticed a young woman scouring the floor of our Metro train, looking for what turned out to be a missing Apple AirPod. She searched for several stops, someone else bent down to help her scan the ground, and then the train pulled into Metro Center.
She shrugged and got off, as did I.
It wasn’t until I got to my desk and began unpacking my backpack that I noticed a lone left ear bud in one of my bag’s side pockets. My heart sunk. The woman! The AirPod! And at the center of it—me, an inadvertent thief.
I’m embarrassed to admit now that my first inclination was borderline madness — to print out “Found” signs with news of my discovery and my cellphone number, and paper them all over Metro Center. But I decided that was a bad idea for a number of reasons, including that WMATA might not look kindly on such behavior.
So I went with a long shot, and sent out a tweet. “METRO RED LINE PSA: To the woman who lost her left AirPod,” I wrote. “You were searching for it on the floor of the train; got off at Metro Center (I think?); I got to work and found it in the side pocket of my backpack…. V SORRY! DM if it’s yours…”
It was a Craigslist Missed Connection, for the Twitter age.
If she was anything like me, I reasoned, she would have shown up at work and promptly told every single person within earshot about her terrible, horrible, no good, very bad morning. And I figured the demographic universe of people who ride the Metro, work downtown, and either read The Washington Post — where I am a White House reporter — or have a friend who reads The Washington Post was enough of an overlapping Venn diagram that maybe, somehow, my tweet might reach her.
Within hours, it had.
The Twitter forces were benevolent, and the two tweets I sent out about the missing ear bud were retweeted more than 1,700 times. A friend of hers from work happened to see my tweet, remember her story of losing an AirPod on her morning commute and put us in touch.
Vasilisa — “Lisa” for short — is 24 years old, originally from Portland, Ore., and getting her master’s in public policy at Georgetown University. She is also interning at the Center for American Progress in K-12 education policy, and it was there she was heading Monday morning when her ear bud fell from her ear and into my bag.
On Thursday, we finally met in person downtown, where I returned her missing ear twin and she bought me a cup of coffee. She was lovely and appreciative, and I was delighted that my lark of a tweet had resulted in a happy ending. (We also took a selfie, obviously, which I tweeted out to close the loop.)
I don’t know if there’s a natural lesson or takeaway, nor does there necessarily need to be. But it was heartening to think that social media — of which I am a begrudging if frequent user— had resulted in an actual, non-catastrophic human connection. And I was reminded yet again of how, for better or worse, D.C. really can be a small town — and this time, I’d argue, for better.