I’d like to share an experience I had recently of locating a very special item that I thought was lost, my 1984 Laurence C. Lobaugh Memorial Award for Journalism from Long Island University/C.W. Post Campus. For those, like me, who are constantly losing or misplacing belongings, I’m also providing some tips for keeping them safe or finding them when they are missing.
Most people realize that, like a detective, you have to follow your last steps of where you last had an item in order to try to trace it. In my opinion, there are three types of things that go missing. The first we can refer to as Only Misplaced (OM). This is something you put away either for safekeeping and then forget where you put it or something you left in a place it didn’t belong because you were either in a hurry putting it away or didn’t have a good place for it. This was the case with my journalism award. I could’ve sworn I’d put it in my jewelry box in a special section, but it turned up in a small box in my closet that was not even the box it originally came in. This forgetfulness loss is the easiest to remedy, as items are usually eventually found ironically often when looking for something else.
The second type of missing item is more difficult to find. We can refer to it as the Unknown Missing (UM). It’s when you realize something is missing like an earring or other type of jewelry, but you did not put it anywhere. It may have fallen off and, because you usually don’t know exactly when you lost it, it’s hard to trace your steps leading up to its loss. This happened to me with one of my favorite earrings and an anniversary ring. This loss is usually permanent, as the objects which are usually small, either get vacuumed up, thrown in the garbage, or blown away by the wind if lost outside. Occasionally they are found, but the person finding them has no way of matching them up with you.
The last type of missing item is something that is just misplaced temporarily such as keys, water bottles, cell phones. In most cases, the person just forgets where they left these items. Sometimes this happens on a regular basis. I’m a big water bottle misplacer. I usually leave them in doctor offices and in various places around the library where I work. We refer to this type of missing item as the Commonly Misplaced (CM).
Here are some tips to dealing with all 3 types of lost items:
For OM’s, the best course of action is to not lose these items in the first place. If they are valuable to you either financially or emotionally, set aside a place for them. Put them in a firesafe box or a jewelry box you can lock (but make sure not to lose the key). If you’ve already lost the item and are sure it’s in your house, don’t panic. It will turn up eventually when you are looking for something else. If you’re in a rush to find it for some reason, you can try cleaning the room where you have similar objects. For instance, if it’s jewelry, you might look through all your jewelry boxes or in the room where you normally keep your jewelry. If it’s an item of clothing, you might look through your drawers and closet or even where you store your out-of-season clothes.
For UM’s, all you can do is try to retrace your steps. If you’re not even sure where and when you lost it, you will have to look everywhere. The sooner you do that after you discover it missing, the better your chance of finding it. To prevent losing this type of item, you should make sure your jewelry fits well. For earrings, you should check that the backs are secure. For those that dangle, like the one I lost, be sure that you use the tiny plastic back to secure it. Also, if you are wearing a coat, check that it might have fallen inside or to the floor when you’ve put it on or taken it off and especially check the place you put the jewelry on in the first place. If it’s a ring, make sure it’s not too loose, as mine was. Items like these can fall off without you feeling them drop.
For CM’s, you just have to be more aware of where you place things. However, there are now apps and devices you can buy to track your objects. My husband got the whole family a Tile tracking devices for Christmas that can attach to your keys and other items so that you can track them with a cell phone app (and you can track that too as long as you keep it signed into the program). I actually find this more of a nuisance, although I have to admit it helped me find my keys once.
When all else fails, you can say a prayer to St. Anthony, the saint of lost items.