Walking through the blustery sprinkle in the dark night, Bella abruptly stopped and peered into the dark. I didn't see anything, but we proceeded further and discovered what made her hesitate: a blue backpack on the sidewalk (SW corner of 24th & Castro, with an attached plastic bag of recyclables). It looked as if someone dropped it while bicycling past, or perhaps left it near the bus stop. Still, I could think of no good reason why it should just be there in the rain at 1 a.m., so I took it home.
On the way, a person passed close by in the darkness. He was talking loudly to himself, and said "I accomplished tasks no one told me." He wasn't complaining about dropping a backpack, though.
At home, I fished in the backpack and came up with several pawn tickets. The tickets listed a name and address, and also helpfully listed the annual percentage rate of the loans (one was 330% APR - I'm in the wrong line of work). It occurred to me the items might be stolen, but I had no indication of such. I didn't know the state of mind of the backpack's owner: maybe he could accuse me of stealing his backpack just by picking it up. Best to avoid the subject entirely. I decided to try and track down the owner.
I knocked on the door of a house behind Arden Fair Mall. There was a posted sign that said: "No Trespassing. Violators will be shot. Survivors will be shot again." Nevertheless, there was playground equipment on the front lawn that belied the warning, and suggested the presence of small children. I left a note.
They called back. I returned and turned the backpack over to the family of the owner. They explained the owner is homeless in my neighborhood. Hopefully they see him soon.
(He needs to keep a better eye on his stuff. Keeping stuff is one of the biggest challenges of being homeless.)