The story begins on September 24 with a thread on the Cruise Critic message boards titled "Long shot lost and found, money clip with $$."
"In the safe, tucked in the corner, I found a money clip with a large amount of money in it, over $100," wrote Kujobe, a regular poster, who sailed on Carnival Legend in mid-September. He provided his cabin number and described the find: "The money clip was monogrammed and had an engraved dedication on it ['To my husband, ILUWAMHSFEA, Love Always, Shell. July 7, 2007'], including the name of the giver and a date [7/7/7]."
"It would be easily identifiable and I would like to make sure it gets back to the owner," he added.
So why keep the clip instead of turning it in onboard at the guest relations desk?
"I thought long and hard about taking it to guest services while on the cruise," he explained, "but I felt more comfortable holding on to it and trying to get it back to the owner myself. I guess I'm a pessimist. Anyways, if you own this, e-mail me." Kujobe also e-mailed Carnival's lost-and-found department a week before he posted. He never heard back.
Some were doubtful about Kujobe's strategy. "There's almost no chance of finding the owner on this board," one member wrote. But, what followed were some 30-odd posts of encouragement and suggestions. "Maybe you can do an Internet search on the dedication and see if anything comes up," recommended salty dingo. Luddite proposed getting in touch with Carnival, explaining the situation and asking the line to contact the cabin's previous occupiers. Googling the giver's name was another option (he or she might be on Facebook or LinkedIn), or perhaps Kujobe could post on the Carnival Legend Roll Call forum, a Cruise Critic venue for pre-cruise virtual meet-ups.
Be it karmic energy or luck, the 39th post was enough to send a wave of warmth over those following the thread. "THEY WERE IN MY GROUP!!!" posted Suzepoo. "I can put you in touch with them personally...."
Dozens of happy exclamations followed. One poster even said that the story had restored his faith in humanity.
And then, on post No. 72, the wife of the money clip owner surfaced. "Thank you for being so honest!!!!!!! It is my husband's $ clip, he is emailing you as I type this," wrote Shelloz, a Cruise Critic member only since April of this year. She also provided some background on the clip. "I gave him this clip as a wedding present and he has been devastated since. He even e-mailed Carnival about it. [The inscription, ILUWAMHSFEA, means] I love you with all my heart and soul forever and ever amen! If I remember correctly it has 777 on it also which is our wedding anniversary ... We will be in touch, you are truly a great person!!"
The story of the reunited money clip moved some to tears, and several claimed that Kuboje should be named "member of the month." Others felt compelled to spread the word. Posted mitsugirly, "I just had to say that this topic moved me so much that today in my College English class we were asked to write about a book, article, or something that inspired us today. I wrote about this post and what the OP had done."
The reunited money clip reminds us of another lost-item story with a happy ending. In May, with the help of a Cruise Critic reader, some clever detective work, a curious sea turtle and a sunken war ship, a camera washed up in Key West and was returned to its owner ... in Aruba. You can read about that more far-reaching saga here.
--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor