Friday, January 29, 2010

Lost and Found

Have you ever been out and about in public and lost something important or valuable? If so, was it returned?

I was sixteen and a newly licensed driver when I left my purse in the crack of a movie theater chair. I went back as soon as I realized what had happened, but it wasn’t to be seen again. Gone was some hard-earned cash, my brand new license, my social security card, sentimental pictures… It was heart breaking.

My husband has been wearing a chain since he was nine or ten, a gift from his parents when he became an altar boy. A few years ago, after taking the kids to Chuck E. Cheese (don’t get me started on this special form of parental torture), he realized it wasn’t hanging around his neck. Panic. We called and thankfully someone had found it and turned it in. A miracle (and no, it wasn’t a medal of St. Anthony—how appropriate would that have been?).

Well, last week son # 2 came home and searched the house frantically before announcing that he’d lost his scientific calculator. All of you with teenagers know that buying a scientific calculator often entails second mortgages and selling of internal organs. Okay, not really. But it’s close. Son # 2 had inherited that particular calculator from son # 1, so it had been around the block a time or two, but still, it had been in perfect working order and in line to be passed down to younger sister. But alas, it disappeared and as son # 2 needed it for his math class and for the SATs, which were at that point three days away, we trekked to Office Depot, sold off a kidney, and brought home a new TI84.
(Let me just digress for a moment here and say that I have my suspicions that the missing calculator didn’t disappear on its own, if you get my drift. There are some kids at son # 2’s school with sticky fingers, as evidenced by his stolen cell phone and Ipod last year… I almost want to send him to school dragging a safe…)

Fast forward to SAT day when son # 2 and I are on our way home from a neighboring high school, the SAT test site. He was relating spending five hours of testing with a heavy breather sitting next to him, poor kid (the breather who was obviously ill), and the other kids, too, who had to concentrate with that going on, when I asked, innocently, how his new calculator had worked.

You know where this is going, right?

Yep. He left the brand new, hadn’t even been paid for yet (thank you, credit cards), calculator at the SAT test site, under his desk chair. We immediately turned around, drove back to the school (which was 20 minutes away) but it was already locked up tight—trust me, we tried every door.

So while he fretted over the fact that he might actually have to sell a kidney, I was wondering if kids at this particular school had a tendency for sticky fingers as well…and feared we would never see that calculator again and why, oh why, hadn’t I bought the outrageously priced protection plan because even though it was outrageous, it was still cheaper than a replacement?

By the time I got home, I had a plan. I was going straight to the top. I emailed the SAT school’s principal (gotta love the internet) and begged for help. Sunday night I received an email that she’d check first thing in the morning, and also see if one of the SAT coordinators might have found the wayward calculator already. Monday morning, the phone rang. They had the calculator. Safe and sound. Nary a sticky finger to be seen.

It was such a whew moment. And also one that restored my faith in mankind’s goodness. And after the cell phone/Ipod incident, it was also good for son #2 to see that yes, sometimes people do the right thing. But, ahem, he did get a wee little lecture on keeping better track of his possessions, because now that he’s a newly licensed driver, I really don’t want him leaving his wallet in the crack of a chair at the local movie theater…

Any lost and found stories out there? I’d love to hear more stories about the goodness of mankind. Or, okay, I’ll take Chuck E. Cheese commiserations as well…



Katie said...

we don't do Chuck E Cheese. at least not yet.

I lost my wallet at Chocolate World in Hershey when son #1 was wee. someone found it and looked me up in the white pages online under my married name and didn't find anything, but found me because of my military id w/ my maiden name and mailed my wallet to me. amazing!!

I lost the same wallet years later and it was gone for good.

Jessica said...

I've lost a log of important things over the years to "sticky fingers". Things that have no value to anyone except me....once I had someone break into a house my friend and I were sharing and some of the "odd" things they took included years and years of poetry, my sewing machine, my high school diploma, my brand new bed that my parents had just bought me, and my end tables. Sounds a lil fishy right? Thats what I thought but couldn't prove a thing. I cried over the lost items...but never got any of them back.

Jessica said...

Oh, and on the chucky cheese note....I don't have teenagers yet, I just have my son who is 2, and I'm dying to take him to Chucky Cheese! Should I be scared? Am I in for a rude awakening?

Dru said...

I took a watercolor class and took my high school class ring off and placed it on the desk. Thirty minutes later, I saw it but within that hour my ring went missing. I tore that classroom up and nothing. We think it may have rolled somewhere.

Theo Epstein said...

I advise you to confiscate all of #2's valuable and semi-valuable possessions in a pre-emptive strike.

misterreereeder said...

I did not realize it but I lost my cell phone. Got an email from my mother - about 5 hours away. She had gottem a phone call from my Kroger store who saw an entry for mom and called her.

debbie said...

Chuck E. Cheese is right up there with McDonald's PlayPlace, torture.

My husband is constantly losing his "estimate book." This is the Bible of any contractor who goes out and gives estimates for potential jobs. One of these days I'm going to duct tape it to his chest so he'll always know where it is.

Heather Webber said...

Katie, I love that someone went so out of their way to give you back your wallet. I once found a bunch of credit cards and a license in a parking lot and scooped them all up and mailed them to the addy on the license. The mystery writer in me spun quite the tale with that one!

Jessica, that break-in sounds personal! Too bad you could never prove anything. That deserves punishment. Oh, and you'll see with the whole Chuck E Cheese thing. You'll see. :)

Heather Webber said...

Dru, I'm thinking it rolled right into someone's pocket! You're much better than I am about not thinking the worst of people.

Mistereereeder, I love that story! So glad you got your phone back. Losing one is such a hassle.

CindyD said...

Our family was way down Bright Angel trail in the Grand Canyon when our daughter realized she didn't have her camera and must have left it at the 3Mile rest house. It was too far to go back, so we stopped the next group heading up and asked them to look for the camera and turn it in at the BA desk if they found it. A bit later along comes this man hiking very fast down the trail who asks if anyone lost a camera - he had it! He didn't tell us how he connected it with us, but our daughter was very happy.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Chuck E Cheese. My hubby and I were there with some friends and their two small children. My Hubby, the fun guy that he is, dives into the ball pit and plays with the boys. Everyone is finally tired and we gather up our stuff to leave and Hubby notices his wedding ring is no longer on his finger. So he turns around, heads back to the ball pit and jumps in again. He keeps diving to the bottom then surfacing over and over. The parents of the chidren in the pit with him are looking nervous and wondering strange man when he pops up victorious holding his ring high in one hand. Everyone let out a big sigh of relief and he received a round of applause as he left the pit. ... Mo

signlady217 said...

Somehow I managed to avoid Chuck E. Cheese for 23 years (and my best friend had 4 kids!), but then my other best friend's twins got me in there last year! For me, it's mostly just loud, loud, loud. And a bunch of kids being allowed to run wild! Very annoying!

In high school one day I laid my purse on the bleachers (where I could see it) to play ping-pong, turned around and it was gone. Got it back later; it had been found in the trash can in the bathroom. The only thing missing was around $15 cash. The thing was, that was the money I got from cashing my first real job first paycheck! But my license and everything else was still there.

My brother loses stuff a lot, used to drive my mom nuts! I think he's gotten a bit better, but not much; according to our conversation the other day, the binoculars I gave him for Christmas are "somewhere in the truck", and an computer disk he was supposed to give me was found (weeks later) in a third lunch box that he didn't look in at the time (looked in the first and second ones!)

Anonymous said...

Yes, I've lost things and had them back again, but I never have lost my grandson at Chuck E Cheese because of the unique hand-stamping security measure used there. I feel safe letting him wander, and he feels competent that he is allowed to wander. He is five, and more priceless than a scientific calculator. Yes, the place is noisy, and a joy to grandchildren.

Helen Kiker said...

When I was in high school I lost my wallet on the city bus. A young woman found it & took a bus to my house to return it. I was not at home at the time & my mother thanked her but did not get her name so I was not able to give her a reward. I always felt badly about that. The best thing of course is that it built my trust in the goodness of people.

Helen Kiker

Theo Epstein said...

BTW, tell him his next birthday present hinges on the SAT score.

Heather Webber said...

Cindy, what a great story! I'm impressed with someone going so far out of their way to do a good deed.

Oh Mo. The ball pit. Egads. So glad your husband noticed his ring was missing before you left. And I can't believe he actually found it in that pit! That's really a miracle.

Signlady, it's not to bad when it's not crowded--but get hoards of kids in there, and I want to run for the door. And the germophobe in me always wants to bathe in disinfectant afterward. But I do love skee (sp?) ball! So glad you got your license back! It's such a pain to get a replacement. And LOL on your brother's misplacing things!

Gramma, you're right--that stamp thing is great and it is nice for the kiddos to have their freedom. I still managed to panic, though, when they went into the tubes and weren't seen again for an hour. I think I may have (cough-cough) climbed in after them a time or two.

Helen, what a great story! It definitely affirms that there are a lot of good people out there.

Leann Sweeney said...

Oh, yeah. My daughter is the loser of all things important. Her husband is now responsible for finding her lost purse every other week. He's come to understand that I was not exaggerating when I warned him. And I think we had the same problem with the REQUIRED scientific calculator. She even had lost one shoe on multiple occasions. What's with that? You are not alone, but my watch is over. It's up to her poor hubby now.

signlady217 said...

Heather--And the kicker is: I still don't have the disk!!!

Fortunately, my cousin made another copy for me and gave it to my mom to give to me; that one I know I will get the next time I see her. (We each have a special box in our sewing rooms where we put stuff that needs to go to each other; newspaper/cartoon clippings, books, anything that we think the other would enjoy or need. That way it's all in one place and can be grabbed at the last minute as you go out the door.)

signlady217 said...

Correction--I forgot, I did get the disk from mom at Thanksgiving. Duh!! I cleaned my desk off and put it in a file in the cabinet.

Mason Canyon said...

Right after I turned 16 I left my purse in the car with wallet and everything in it the parking lot of the local hospital. When I came out found the purse missing, started looking found it had been thrown in a nearby ditch along with my wallet, license and social security card. All money was gone. I was just glad to have the license and card.

Whatever happened to plain, simple calculators?

jbstanley said...

I threw out my share of retainers when I was a kid. My poor parents!

A few years ago, I lost one of a pair of nice earring my hubby had given me for our Anniversary. Tore the house and the vacuum bag apart but it was never found. My sweet man had a jeweler make a new one and never once complained.

Jessica said...

jb...ahhhh! What a good hubby!

Heather Webber said...

Leann, my kids are horrible "finders" --Easter egg hunts take forever,-- so I'm thankful they don't lose things often.

LOL, signlady! I'm glad you have the disk after all.

Mason, it's so upsetting when something is stolen, isn't it? I'm glad you found your license and social!

JB, I wonder how many retainers have been thrown out over the years? I bet there are a LOT. And your hubby sounds like a keeper.

Knit Twit said...

I left my purse hanging on the back of my chair in cafe in a busy international airport. Driver's license, passport, everything. Imagine my minor heart attack when I realized what I had done! I have never moved so fast as I did that day, running through the airport.

Amazingly enough, my purse was right where I had left if, with everything in it.

Those calculators are hot items to steal unfortunately, and most protection plans don't cover loss or theft.

Dave Chaudoir said...

Heather, I was thinking about reading "Truly, Madly" and just went to Amazon to put it on my Wish List. This is how I nose-dived into finding out about the Macmillan-Amazon dispute. Yeeesh!!! What are authors like you thinking about this?

My own (uninformed) read is that Amazon is being kind of a bully... I am not a part of the Kindle thing because they are not available for sale to residents here, nor could we download books from here even if we had one.

Amazon, which I usually turn to given that I live overseas and it is hard to buy the books I like in a local bookshop (although we have some here in the UAE), should be a democratic marketplace. This move to remove all titles, print and otherwise, smacks to me of schoolyard bully tactics. But that's just my opinion. If it strikes you, would you consider a blog on the topic?

Meanwhile, there are of course other online retailers.

Heather Webber said...

Knit Twit, I can imagine the dash through the airport. I'm really glad your purse was still there. You must have been so relieved!

Dave, we're just hoping it's resolved soon as Amazon seems to be a go-to place for a lot of online buyers, or that readers will know they can order the book from other vendors, esp. independents. I'm trying not to get too involved in the whole thing, so probably no blog about it... I hope you'll get a copy of Truly, Madly soon, though!

Maggie Sefton said...

Sorry I'm late with this, Heather. But, I do have two good stories of lost and found. The week I learned that my Kelly Flynn knitting mystery series was sold to Berkley Prime Crime, I was racing around doing errands and left my purse in the shopping cart basket, right in the parking lot. I couldn't believe what I'd done when I got home. RAced back, but of course, it was gone. Credit cards, ID, money, everything. My heart sank. That evening, I received a phone message on my home phone. A man had found my purse in the basket and started looking thru phone directory. Bless his heart. I wanted to give him a reward, but he didn't take it.

misa ramirez said...

That's a great story, Heather.

I have one... when my husband was camping on a elementary school field trip (he was a teacher), his wedding ring (which had been my grandfather's ring) slipped off his finger in a lagoon we were swimming in.

He searched the murky water for it, but time ran out and he had to leave--without the ring.

Before he left, he saw another family from the school. They were staying the rest of the weekend. He told them about his ring.

Needless to say, I was was my grandfather's ring after all! We accepted that it was gone.

Monday morning, he gets to his classroom and low and behold, there is the kid--with his wedding ring. The mom said her son spent hours searching the sandy depths of the lagoon... and he found it!

I look back on that and STiLL can't believe it!

Heather Webber said...

Maggie, sometimes the kindness of strangers amazes me. That's a great story.

Misa, WOW. I can't believe the ring was found. I hope the boy got extra credit! *g*