Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 7, 2013

Looking for the lost and found?

By JAMIE PARSELL
Associated Press

BLUEFIELD — Whenever I lose something important, I think about the lost and found in elementary school. It resembled a tiny thrift shop. Items ranged from winter jackets discarded on a too-warm day to miscellaneous hard plastic character-themed lunch boxes. A few toys were scattered amongst the clothes, mostly jump ropes or soft dodge balls. Our teachers would send us down the hall to check the lost and found every few months. The pile of jackets, T-shirts and mittens had turned into a mountain. I never expected to find any belongings, but every now and then, I rediscovered a missing mitten or lost hat. For every unintentional find, there has also been frantic searches. Or even more wistful glances, hoping to discover — six months later — a favorite item or toy. The lost and found not only reunited lost items and souls. It also ensured a sense of honesty; teachers instructed students to take items to the lost and found, the land of misfit toys and jackets.

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Last week, a Georgia woman was reunited with a camera six years after it was lost at sea. The camera washed up in Taiwan; an airline employee contacted a newspaper in Hawaii in hopes of finding the owner. The newspaper posted the photos online and the woman’s friend sent her the link. The Georgia resident was stunned to recover the camera, as well as the photos. I have never lost anything as valuable as a camera. Just a few odds and ends, like my favorite My Little Pony in the third grade, a pink and white winter coat, keys, money, mittens, hats, socks, buttons and a black high-heel shoe. The shoe fell out of my gym bag. An employee placed the shoe in the lost and found. By the next morning, it had been donated to a local non-profit organization. The almost-new-peep-toe high heel was never seen again.

And this week, I lost my pearl earring. I made the discovery as I stared in the mirror on Tuesday morning. I automatically wished I had a personal lost and found zone. A quick sweep of the room didn’t garner any results. I sighed. It was only 8 a.m., but I had already been at the fitness center and in every room of the house. I took the other earring out and vowed to thoroughly look for its mate after work. I have yet to find the missing piece of jewelry.

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Not being able to find something is one of the most frustrating, yet irrelevant aspects of life. How many countless minutes have we spent looking for car keys or a wallet only to find them in a coat pocket? Or misplaced iPods, cellphones or jewelry? The few attempts — asking others to help search and retracing steps — does little to combat those anxious moments. Some of us are slow, purposely looking in every corner. Others race through the room, tossing pillows and pushing things out of the way in a frantic pace. According to a study by a home insurance company, people spend 10 minutes every day looking for items. Some of the most misplaced items are phones, keys, paperwork, glasses, umbrellas and lip balm. Also on the list was a car? OK, not sure how to lose a car in rural southern West Virginia, but I can definitely relate with the rest of the items. Most people in the study blame bad organization and hectic lifestyles. I am sure organization would help a lot of us at home and work. I cringe at the number of times I have had to search for a scribbled note. Five minutes later, I rejoice in the small victory. Life’s little challenges are always around, waiting for the perfect opportunity to misplace our keys. Sometimes we recover; other times the ring falls down the sink. The only difference between childhood and adulthood is the lack of appropriate lost and found areas and the value of the items. A toy or lunch box can be replaced. A piece of jewelry? Maybe not. I am still hoping my earring turns up, perhaps when I least expect it. Just in case, there is a no-vacuum rule until further notice.

Jamie Parsell is the Lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at jparsell@bdtonline.com or on Twitter  @BDTParsell.