It's inevitable. Some day you'll forget something at a bar. Hopefully you forget it and someone didn't just steal it. Your best action is to call the bar the next day and see if they have a lost and found.
Every night I walk the establishment and see if anything is left behind. I watch the floor for dropped money and I look around to see if anyone left behind bags, cell phones, clothing or anything that catches my eye. I do have to admit, any money I find I keep. It's usually only 5 or 10 bucks but if it's on the floor and not inside anything it's fair game.
Occasionally I'll find a briefcase or satchel and I look through it to see if there's any type of identification in it. That way if there's a way to contact the person the management will contact them. If there isn't a way to contact them the bag goes into the lost and found. If the person doesn't come back for it in a couple weeks then who ever finds it gets first dibs on it.
One night as I was walking the area I found a satchel that had a laptop, ipod, 6 or 8 manilla folders, and numerous other things. One of the things inside was a little leather book that had $700 in it. All together, I'd say there was $1,500 worth of items inside this bag. I took it down to the office and signed it in to the management. Then I went back to finishing the night.
About a half hour later there's a knock at the door. So I walk over to see who it is at the door and find a gentleman in his 40's standing there with a cab waiting for him. I unlock the door and slightly push it open. "Bar's closed. Can I help you?"
"Yea mate, I was here earlier and I think I left my bag here."
"Can you tell me what it looks like and the contents?"
"Yea, yea.. It was a black satchel with grey on it and I had my laptop, an ipod, and a bunch of paperwork in it. My passport should be in there too."
"Ok, give me a second and I'll take a look. Be right back." I locked the door and headed back to the office to get the bag I just put there. I walked back up to the door and held up the bag. The man smiled big and gave me a thumbs up. I unlocked the door and handed it to him.
"Oh man, thank you mate!! This thing has my whole life in it. I'm here from Australia and I'm giving a proposal to get my company work here. If not for you I'd be literally screwed! Thanks so much!!"
I stood there looking at him. Listened to everything he had just said. I saved him from a lot of problems. Might have helped make him a millionaire or some shit. Then he says this. "I wish I could give you a reward or something for saving me."
Then he got in the cab and left.
Ok... I'm not the type to be looking for rewards because I found your stuff in the bar. I find things in the bar almost daily. If I saved you and your business from what ever I saved you from and you have $700 sitting in there (that I could have taken) then how bout a monetary reward? I'm not saying $200 or $300 but $50 would have made my night.
People don't seem to understand. When people find things in bars 70% of the time the ones that lost it don't come back for it. They don't remember where they lost it or where they had been that night. So after a couple weeks most of these things go home with who ever found it.
The other part that people don't understand is this. When things are found at a bar, who's to say that what's in them is found in them. What's stopping that person from pocketing that $700 that was in there? Hey, we found it on the floor in a bar after 400 or 500 people were in here. Maybe someone else took it cause it wasn't there when I found the bag. Or who's to say we ever even found the bag.
So remember, if you lose something in a bar and you go back and all your things are still there, then someone honest kept that for you. They're not expecting you to give them a reward. They're not expecting you to go out of your way for them. They will second guess themselves the next time they hear someone go on about how they saved someone's life by holding onto something. Maybe next time they just won't find the bag or turn it in.
So if someone does something really good for you without asking then remember to pay it back in some way. What works well a lot of the time is just an offering. The next time you go there offer to get them a drink, or food, or even throw them $20 or more for holding the bag.
That whole pay it forward thing is bullshit. If you don't do it naturally then you won't pay it forward. Pay it back to the one that helped you.