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Regardless of age or attention span, we all lose or misplace things, some of us more often than others.
I lose things almost daily, like my glasses, cellphone, wallet, car keys and pens, and I know many of you do too.
I used to think losing things was a condition of age, but I now realize age does not matter.
We all know how awful it feels to lose something, but we also know how good it feels to eventually find the missing item or items.
My uncle used to laugh at things my aunt told my cousins when they lost things, like “It’s not here; it must be someplace else,” “I always find it in the last place I look” or “Where did you have it last?”
Uncle always said that while you couldn’t argue with such statements, nor were they incorrect, repeating them was foolish.
Such statements are not unique to my aunt, though, as we’ve all said or been told such things: “Well, it just didn’t get up and walk away did it?” “It’s not really lost; it’s just missing.” “Do you remember where you left it?” “If it had been a snake, it would have bitten you.”
The way it normally works is once we realize something is missing, or if we can’t put our hands on it right away, we first panic and then start checking and rechecking all the obvious places — the car, driveway, all pockets several times, any chairs in the house where we’ve been sitting, in the sofa cushions and under the dining room table.
If all that searching turns up nothing, the quest turns to either phone calls or visits to places where we might have last handled the items — a restaurant, grocery store, soccer field, ABC store, movie theater or in someone else’s car.
If no luck yet, we move to stranger areas such as the clothes hamper, kitchen trashcan, the desk at work, behind the toilet, the trunk of the car, even if we know we haven’t been in there in days.
Eventually, we go to more exotic locations, like the refrigerator, freezer, washing machine, the oven or the shed out back where we haven’t been in months.
Why the oven or washing machine? Because of the chance, however remote, that it just might be in there. Besides, looking allows us to check one more place off the search list.
Eventually, we check the winter coat or jacket hanging in the closet, even if we haven’t worn these items in months and the item disappeared only within the past 30 minutes.
Not satisfied, we might even check the pockets again but with no luck.
Once in a while, although not often, we might even get lucky and find either some money or an envelope that had been missing since last Christmas.
If all else fails, we attribute the missing item to theft. “Somebody stole my glasses/ballpoint pen/comb” or “Who stole my socks/gloves/shoes/underwear?”
Sometimes the lost item is definitely gone for good, but occasionally, we run across it several days, weeks or months later, and the feeling of relief when this happens can turn a bad day into a good one in a hurry.
The late comedian George Carlin mentioned in his biography that when you get to heaven, the first thing that happens is you have returned to you all the things you lost over your lifetime on earth, including the 427 pairs of sunglasses, 835 ballpoint pins, nine wallets, six cell phones, five Kodak Instamatic cameras, three bicycles and two Boy Scout hatchets, even though you’re pretty sure at least one wallet, one camera and one of the Boy Scout hatchets were all stolen.
Some interesting and unusual items have turned up in the lost-and-found department of the New York Transit Authority, which operates the subway system in the city and gets more than 50,000 items a year.
Items turned in have ranged from the typical like wallets, pocketbooks, eyeglasses and smartphones to the more unusual, including a pet rabbit, a prosthetic leg, a car bumper, a tuba, a diamond engagement ring and numerous sets of false teeth.
How does one misplace a prosthetic leg while riding on a subway?
I’d like to speak more with you on this subject, but I have some lost or misplaced a notebook that went missing a couple of days ago. I have to search, but I’m sure I’ll find it in the last place I look.
Keith Barnes is a reporter for the Johnstonian News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.