Lost and Found – by April Cushing

April Cushing is the Adult Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.

I know someone who claims to have never lost anything. Is that even humanly possible? If the name weren’t so fraught with pejorative connotations beyond the inability to keep track of stuff, I’d join Losers Anonymous in a heartbeat. I’m thinking of two particular incidents.

I picked up my daughter at the 128 train station recently to take her to the dentist while I waited in the parking lot. After dropping her back at the train en route to the Morrill Memorial Library, where, ironically, I help people find things, I reached for the shoes I’d tossed on the floor of the front seat. I found a single brown flat.

Like the Red Sox, I was on a losing streak but determined to reverse my luck, so I spent lunch retracing my steps. Apparently no one had turned in any footwear at 128 that day so I sped back to the dentist. Not that I held out any hope of success, but I wanted to leave no stone unturned. Lo and behold, I spied a two-toned suede slip-on basking in the sun on the pavement precisely where I’d parked. Is there any better feeling, with the possible exception of finding a thousand bucks (more on that later) than locating something you’ve lost? It’s infinitely more satisfying than never having misplaced it in the first place.

I did pretty well, for a while. Until I reached for my cell phone at the Faulkner Hospital to update my sister on our mother and came up empty. I felt like one of those scientists wintering over in Antarctica, totally cut off from the outside world. Back home I searched everywhere, and some places more than once in case I’d overlooked it the first three times.

Replacing the phone wasn’t totally unreasonable, considering the last time it went missing I found it the morning after book group on the street in front of my friend’s house, but not before it had been run over. Most likely by me. The fact that it still worked, if you didn’t mind squinting to see through the cracked glass and were careful not to cut yourself, I took as a sign that I didn’t actually need a Smart phone.

I found the darn thing in my bedside table drawer that night.

Not everyone, it turns out, suffers from this affliction. Some people have the opposite experience. A close friend who recently bought a fixer-upper in Walpole got more than an aging roof and smelly shag carpeting the cats had mistaken for a litter box. Puttering around the basement one day, the new owner spotted the edge of an envelope protruding from beneath some plywood. Reaching inside, he withdrew a picture of a scantily-clad coed striking a provocative pose. Plus $1,000 in cash. Much rejoicing and discussion of the myriad ways to blow the bundle ensued. The windfall went toward refinishing the stained wood floors, but it was a fun fantasy for a while. Despite my friend’s good fortune, I would caution against embarking on a home-buying spree in the hope of duplicating this scenario. Chances are this will never, in the course of your natural lifetime, happen to you.

But back to reality. Rummaging through the library’s Lost & Found for my reading glasses last week, I found evidence of a lot of other losers out there. A thorough inventory of the drawer yielded no magnifiers but a wealth of other items, including money–$2.14 to be precise. Also one eyeglass lens, two pairs of funky sunglasses, a set of monkey-faced keys, a mini iPod, a pair of unmatched mittens and a handwritten note that read “To Mommy from Rob, I love you bekus you are the bestist mom in the hol intiyr wrld.” Forget the flash drive, the portable umbrella and the other paraphernalia. If I were Rob’s mom that’s the one thing I’d want back.

Most unclaimed items get tossed after three months, but not all. The oldest denizen of the Lost & Found drawer is a little musical hairbrush that’s been there almost 20 years. Our head of Circulation can’t bring herself to, um, part with it, so if this brush rings a bell, be prepared to present some solid DNA evidence to establish ownership.

There’s no known cure for losing things, but your library can lend a hand. Check out “One Year to an Organized Life: from Your Closet to Your Finances, the Week-by-Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized, for Good,” by Regina Leeds. Can’t find your reading glasses? No problem; we own the large print edition as well. For a less daunting title consider “What’s a Disorganized Person to Do?” by Stacey Platt. If you’re feeling ambitious, Milton’s “Paradise Lost” might help put your problems in perspective. Or read the mystery of the same title by Judith Jance about policewoman Joanna Brady in Cochise County, Arizona.

Generally speaking, it’s easier to lose things than find them. You can lose yourself in a book, lose track, lose weight, lose ground, face, focus and control, lose out, lose touch, lose heart, lose your cool, your lunch, your marbles, your nerve, your identity, your train of thought, your inhibitions and your virginity, or you can just plain lose it. Granted, some things can be both lost and found, as in your way, your place and your glasses, but what can strictly be found is limited. Besides finding yourself, your calling and your drishti in yoga, there’s finding the answer, finding fault, finding out, finding true love and Finding Nemo. And if you happen to find yourself at the Morrill Memorial Library, we guarantee you’ll find a fabulous assortment of fiction, non-fiction, audiobooks, magazines, DVDs, downloadable books, databases, storytimes, Speed-Reads, literacy tutors, lectures, movies, music CDs and more. If you haven’t been to the library lately, find out what you’ve been missing. And not merely by checking the Lost & Found

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