Friday, January 15, 2010

missing things

Today, on the bus, a girl got on wearing a scarf very similar to one I used to have, and it got me thinking- where do our missing things go?

It was common for people to accidentally leave things behind at the restaurant I used to work at.

One time, a woman in her sixties came up to me and told me she had left her hat and asked if anything had been turned in. Nothing had, so I went to the table she had been sitting at, checked around it, asked the servers and bussers and managers, and no one had seen the hat. I told the lady I was sorry, and I asked for her name and number in case it should turn up. After giving me her contact information, she looked up at me and smiled, told me the hat was very dear to her and would I please call her if it was found. I assured her I would, and she thanked me and headed out the door.

I started thinking about why a white baseball cap with an image of a ship on it would be dear to this woman. Had it been a gift? From the Bahamas? On her 40th wedding anniversary? From her husband? Who was now very sick?

My heart ached for this woman. I wanted like anything to reunite her with her hat. With this thing that would be meaningless to anyone else, but for her, it represented something special and sentimental, it allowed her to access an important memory.

About a week later, I was at work, stocking the closet, when I came upon what was undeniably the hat that this woman had described to me. I was so excited, I rushed up to the front desk to locate the woman's phone number. I eagerly anticipated the phone call where I delivered the good news. As I searched the drawer where I had placed the paper, I discovered it had been completely cleaned out, and I came to realize this woman's contact information was gone forever.

So, here I was with a lost and found turned into a found and lost, and it seemed so unfair. I never saw that woman again, but I kept the hat that I know belongs to her in the corner of the closet, just in case.

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