This week I’m “liveblogging” my trip to Ukraine. Unlike traditional reports, these posts will be shorter and more frequent.
Those in the West who are anti-Ukraine in the current war usually throw out the following trope: well, the Russians may be corrupt, but the Ukrainians are just as corrupt if not more. It’s such an easy way to marginalize a whole nation of people…and my experience in recovering my lost Apple Watch suggests just the opposite.
I Was Reunited With My Apple Watch!
Later in the week, I hope to pen a post that discusses the complexity of the Ukraine War. I may not be a policymaker, but I have followed this war closely (that is, after all, what drew me to Ukraine) and the truth is never as simple or as black and white as we’d like it to be. But here’s what I can testify to you: the Ukrainian people are strong and resilient and rather than see corruption at every corner, I’ve seen bravery…and now honesty.
Earlier, I lamented that I had lost my Apple Watch (I foolishly left it on the train).
I hopped in an Uber and traveled to the train station, having already concluded I would never see my watch again. But just in case, I thought I needed to go and look.
Upon reaching the station, I went up to a “supervisor” desk and asked about lost and found. No one spoke English, but I used Google Translate on my phone. The woman behind the counter made a call and presently a woman wearing an orange jacket named Bipa approached me and asked if she could help, also noting she spoke English.
I explained the issue to her and she nodded and sent a message on her phone. I had my ticket with me and she took down the details of that too.
While I expected her to tell me to check back the following day or wait for a call, she told me to hang on. For the next 30 minutes, we did hang out (and also discussed, as I was back at the train station, how I should return to Warsaw).
Presently, her phone rang. She answered it and after an extended conversation, smiled at me and said, “Your watch was located. We will get it when the train arrives.”
Apparently, the train attendant in my car had located my watch and was holding it. Although she had just made the 18-hour journey from Warsaw to Kyiv the prior evening, she was returning to Warsaw on the train back.
We just had to wait for her car to show up.
As 7:00 pm approached, there were several cars on the track, but not car number three. Finally, it pulled up and Bipa and I boarded the train. There, the attendant appeared and with a wry smile, handed me my watch back. I thanked her profusely (in Ukrainian) and she blushed…I also asked for a picture with her, which she agreed to (though it did not turn out very well):
Back inside the terminal, I thanked Bipa as well and we took a photo together before I departed the station.
Bipa means faith in Ukrainian and I thought her name was so fitting of this entire ordeal. I am still surprised I got my watch back, but so thankful…and while just a small anecdote in a complex situation, no one can say that the war has robbed these fine folks of their humanity.
If you’re traveling through Kyiv and need help, look for Bipa or other ladies wearing orange at the main railway station. They are guardian angels.