It plays out in kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms and boardrooms everywhere — and often. "Have you seen my…?"
We are great at misplacing things and often find ourselves spending time searching for items that aren't where we thought we left them. A survey of users of a location app found that people spend 2 1/2 days out of every year just looking for stuff they've misplaced. Those searches have made 60 per cent of respondents late for work or school, and 22 per cent admit they've missed flights or trains because they couldn't find what they needed.
Then there's the monetary cost involved: $2.7 billion, yes billion, on replacing items that simply don't get found.
So what are we spending so much time and money looking for? It’s remote controls, phones, keys, glasses, shoes, wallets and purses. But it seems even after we have all our stuff together, we're quite good at leaving it behind.
Uber drivers say customers leave all kinds of things in vehicles. The most common are wallets, keys and phones. But others are a bit more unusual: a full fish tank, an 18k gold set of teeth, a life-size cutout of Will Ferrell, a tuxedo for a small dog, a tray of eggs, two packs of sausages and a ham, a live lobster, a Babe Ruth signed baseball, and a Gucci flip flop. Drivers say the more unusual items typically get left behind late on Saturday nights. Draw your own conclusions.
In Paris there is a repository called the Bureau of Found Objects that is considered the first modern lost and found. Items have been getting dropped off since 1805 and still get turned in from restaurants, museums, airports and public transit. Up to 700 objects each day! How is it we are moving about in such a forgetful way?
Items that find their way into lost and found locations at airports around the world are baffling. A fully engraved headstone. A 5.8-carat diamond and platinum ring tucked in a sock. Computers. Cameras. Cars. If left unclaimed these items are sold at auction, which can yield surprising results.
One lucky buyer paid $80 for a vase that was later valued at $18,000. A painting sold for $60 was found to be worth $25,000. That headstone? It was bought and refurbished into a coffee table.
It would seem we can be rather careless at times. Perhaps we have so much stuff we don’t feel the pressure to keep track of it. Maybe we are able to replace things so easily we forget their value. Maybe we simply get distracted. Since opening in 1971, Disney World estimates they have collected more than 1.6 million pairs of missing sunglasses.
Each year they take in more than 6,000 cell phones, 3,500 cameras, about 18,000 hats and 7,500 autograph books.
Behaviour analysts say we lose things due to stress, fatigue and multitasking, but they want us to know we can change our ways. Programs, tips and techniques are suggested as ways to improve our ability to remember where we put things, if we’re willing to work at it.
Seeking assistance to keep track of our things and help the day run more smoothly is a positive thing, but I wonder if we are losing other things — important things — and we don’t seem to see too big an effort at finding them again. Things like civility, kindness, manners, truth and being people of our word.
The encouraging news is that many items left behind find their way back to their owner. But that takes work. Imagine if we put the same amount of effort into reclaiming character that we put into searching for keys. If we determine we’re not going to lose any more ground on what truly matters, we just may find the best in ourselves again. That’s my outlook.