21 March 2008

i'm finding...




I'm a finder. I find a lot of things. A lot of things.

Frequently, I find items that look like pieces of fallen-off bits from appliances which I then use to play the game 'what do you suppose THIS is?', in which I am my own Monty Hall game host as well as the shrieking excitable contestant dressed up like a pickle. And I often go for Door #3 because c'mon, who doesn't dream of owning a donkey with saddlebags filled with fabulous Rice-A-Roni?! It's the San Franciscan treat, you know. And if I was to take my new donkey TO San Francisco, I'm pretty sure I'd get around those tall hills a lot quicker.

I try to walk with my head up and my eyes toward the horizon; I have the best intentions of being aware of the world around me, but in truth I forget about my take it all in intentions, inevitably reverting back to my more usual ground scan.

Last Sunday morning I skipped out the door of KD's apartment with seven shiny quarters in my coat pocket to buy a newspaper from one of the three nearby newspaper boxes. I've come to appreciate the intimacy and quiet of my brief Sunday morning forays; the peaceful quiet of empty streets is magical, with only the occasional dog walker or jogger passing by. Everyone else is either busy making potato pancakes or sleeping off their Saturday night whiskey soaking or at a house of worship getting another weekly dose of brotherly love. Each time I head out to retrieve the Sunday newspaper I'm newly appreciative of the reduced activity and the barely there noise. I can hear the birds chirping on empty streeted Sunday mornings.

Finding a newpaper in KD's neighborhood is like a slot machine designed for the chronically cheap casinophobe. Of the three nearby newspaper stands there is never more than one that has been stocked, and it makes guessing which one will be the big jackpot all the more entertaining. I stepped out to cross an intersection to reach box #1* when I noticed something colorful laying in the road. There were three little metal dog tags -one silver, one blue, one red - laying together in the shape of a very small fan. I picked them up to look them over for clues about who the tagless dog might be or where its owner might live. The silver tag was the proof from a Janesville veterinary clinic of mystery pooch's 2006 rabies vaccination. The red tag was for a 2007 Madison dog license. The blue bone-shaped tag provided a name, address and phone number: while the telephone number listed a local area code, the address pointed to a Minnesota address. I considered leaving the tags where I'd found them. Maybe the tags were freshly-lost? Maybe someone will retrace their walking path to find them? Might I possibly be messing with some sort of balance by inserting myself into a situation that wasn't even mine?

After a few minutes' thinking I decided on a plan of attack: I'd pick up the metal tags, carry them back to KD's house where I'd try calling the local telephone number listed under the Minnesota address. If the owner's phone number was current, I figured, I'd be able to reunite dog with tags and, if not, I'd put the tags back exactly where I'd found them knowing at the very least that I'd tried to help. Little metal dog tags tucked into deep pockets of a thick winter coat can get a little lost down there in the bottom, and they did. Until yesterday that is, when in the process of emptying all 400 pockets for an end-of-season coat laundering I re-found them. I didn't want to lose track of them again so I immediately called the telephone number. Nobody answered, but a man's voice greeted my call with the usual 'I can't come to the phone, leave a message' greeting. The message I left included my first name, my telephone number, and the story of how I'd found his dog's tags and an offer to meet somewhere public to reunite them. I hung up my telephone wondering if I'd ever hear back from Mister Dog Tags.

I'd just finished my breakfast oatmeal this morning and was headed back downstairs to the kitchen for a coffee refill when my telephone rang. I didn't recognize the name displayed on the phone's caller ID and nearly let the call go to my voice mailbox but, because I have a number of job applications hanging out there in the ether, I thought it best to answer the call on that off chance it was an employer calling to say 'hey, we'd love for you to work for us!'. It was not a potential employer; it was Dog Tag Guy (also known as Joe), thrilled that the mystery of the dropped dog tags now had a conclusive and happy ending. We've set up a plan to get his tags back to him tomorrow. I am relieved; both for not having had to return unclaimed tags to the street where I'd originally found them and that I didn't mess anything up by my attempts to help.

While I've been working through the dog tag reunion (Peaches & Herb would say it feels so good. Even though I cringe at disco era tunage, I cannot disagree with them.) I've been doing my regular thaang. Exercising, making meals, cleaning, making plans to visit family in IA City for the newest niece's baptism, stuff like that. On Tuesday, or maybe it was Wednesday, I popped on my girlie pink Crocs and loped across the parking lot, then the street, toward the cluster mailboxes on the other side. Something shiny caught my eye (the story of my life) so I bent down to get a better look. Stuck in the mucky brown of melting curb ice I saw what looked like a fragment of glass perfectly positioned to reflect the sun up from the street grit. I collected my mail and took another look at the glass which then seemed less a fragment than a whole real thing. It was, in fact, a 2" triangle shaped glass vase. Now how in the world does something like that find its way to someplace like there? And what in the world do you put in such a tiny thing? I can think of no possible way to reconnect a 2" glass vase with its owner, so I've placed the sweet little vase in a prominent place on my computer desk in hopes that eventually - like, when winter finally gets the hint we've been dropping for weeks that she's worn out her welcome and now needs to go the heck away - I might be able to find a dandelion or a violet to stick into the teeny-tiny vase neck for a wee floral pick-me-up.

These finding jags seem to happen in clusters then cease for a while, until they happen again. I supposed that this current jag was finished after the dog tags and the glass vase and that I would now be able to get back to other navel-gazing issues.

Until last night, when KD and I visited the gym for a non-exercise night of whirlpool soaking and eucalyptus steam room (read: someone(s) may have pushed just a liiiittle too optimistically on last night's leg muscle portion of our circuit training routine). After an hour or so, we'd steamed and soaked ourselves into 90% noodle-y-ness and agreed that if we didn't leave soon we wouldn't be leaving at all. We returned to the women's locker room to shower and dress. I popped the lock on my locker, grabbed my shower products, headed into the shower room and arbitrarily picked an unoccupied shower stall. As I sat down shampoo and body wash containers on the small corner shelf I noticed something already sitting there. It was a pendant. No chain, no owner, no explanation ... I left it where it was, expecting that the owner would come flying back into the shower room to pick up what she'd accidentally left on the shelf. But nobody came back, not during the entirety of my hair washing and skin de-chlorination. Shower completed, I tiptoed on wet feet back into the locker room, asking the other women in there if they'd misplaced any jewelry ... nope. no. uh-uuh. thanks for asking, but I didn't.

I've had spotty luck (read: sucktastic luck. no luck at all) retrieving personal items accidentally left at the gym, and I've also had my personal items stolen from right under my nose (e.g., my big huge wonderful sage green bath sheet -- while I was there, IN the sauna, several mere feet away from the towel rack. I secretly hope whoever took it self-combusted on their way home because dude, that was totally rude), and because of this I elected not to entrust the gym employees with the return of the pendant to its owner. This time I stopped at the main desk, explained to an employee that I'd found a pendant in the women's locker room and that I'd like to get it back to whoever lost it. She handed me a notebook the staff uses every day to communicate new news or important notes in which I wrote a brief note explaining the situation, my first name, my telephone number, and the caveat that whoever calls must provide a description of their missing item. I'm really hoping that whoever lost her jewelry will track her way back to the reception desk so we can reconnect owner with lost thing.

I continue to wonder a.) if things really do happen in threes and w.) if this last item will be the conclusion of my latest finding jag. It's been a delight but I really do have to get back to figuring out the random bits off appliances I come across when I walk with my eyes down.

* No newspapers in box #2, nor in box #2. Turned out, box #3 held the jackpot. Which is, y'know cool and all, but it also meant that I lost the bet I made with myself: I was sure I'd find the Sunday newspaper before I reached #3.



{the second image may or may not be an image of the pendant I found, but if you happen to be a local gym rat looking for some new bling, I suggest you not make conclusive assumptions. I'm kindhearted but I'm not stupid.}

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