By the time last Friday, the 13th rolled around, I didn’t think my luck could get any worse: That week, I couldn’t balance my check book, I had an eye infection and I lost my new blue topaz ring from Bermuda (I found it later inside my car). Thankfully, the day actually ended on a good note. But here’s the top story of my rotten week:
I woke up Friday morning and realized my keys were missing. I had gone with Russell to the grocery store the night before, but he drove, so I didn’t check for keys when leaving the store. I did remember showing the cashier the plastic thingie on my key chain to get my discount. I searched my house, then called the store. “Nope,” they didn’t have them, I was told.
After four frantic hours rummaging through every room, with no results, I called the store again and asked for the manager. When the gentleman asked me what this was about, I explained my dilemma. He then told me I was in luck (oh, really?) that he was in charge of the Lost and Found Department. Did you know that such a position even existed? I surely did not. I mean, I’ve never seen an ad in the newspaper or read online through Monster.com anything even close to, “Wanted: Lost and Found Manager.” First of all, how do you get trained? Does the boss hide keys, watches and caps, for practice? Oh, and does this position requires a college education? If so, is it a full four year program or a two year technical degree?
And another thing: How would you get paid? Are you on commission, getting paid for every item you find, then a bonus if it’s returned to its rightful owner? I tell you—these are serious matters that I ponder. Okay, I’ll get back to my story:
The manager of the Lost and Found Department asked me to describe my keys. Seriously? “Well,” I said, “they’re gold, oh, and some are silver, even.” He repeated, “gold and silver?” like he was taking notes. I admitted that I wasn’t really sure how many keys were on my key chain. I heard a sigh. “Have any earthly idea?” he asked. Speaking of earth, I was beginning to have an out-of-body experience. I closed my eyes and meditated really hard for what—about two minutes. “Ma’am?” he asked me.
“Hold up, LAFD manager,” I was thinking, but I kept quiet. He said he didn’t have to know exactly—just approximately. So I said maybe four, or rather seven, I mean, ten. That’s it! Ten keys. “Anything else?” he asked. “No, that’s the only thing I’m missing. Everything else came home with me.” I lied. I was actually missing two navel oranges, but somehow, I didn’t think he could handle the additional pressure. (This is true: I was mad when I went to eat one the next day and they were, well, not there.) “Ma’am,” he snickered, “I didn’t mean that. I meant were there any other distinguishing characteristics about your key chain?” “Oh! Now I get it. Yes, as a matter of fact—.” I was actually enjoying this now. We were playing Twenty Questions and I was holding ALL THE ANSWERS!
Now I got all serious and professional, saying, “Well, thank you for asking! Yes, actually, I also had several special customer cards.” He asked me to explain. “VIP, PC, VIC, PFC—all those plastic magnetized thingies that give me special, preferential treatment!” I could hear the pen scratching against his clipboard. He asked, “How do you spell ‘preferential?’” Good golly, Miss Molly! This was getting crazier by the minute.
Then he asked me to hold on, that he HIMSELF, the manager of the Lost and Found Department, was going to personally go through the entire collection to see if my keys were there. I sat there holding my breath, hoping against hope, but nuttin’ doin'. He dashed those very hopes when he returned to the phone saying, “No keys here, Ma’am. I got some sunglasses and a child’s toy, but no keys.”
My final plea: “Okay, but, please if you do find them…Oh! One more thing, there IS a little ball attached to my keys. It is NOT a child’s toy. It is a lime green striped ball that my friends in Arkansas gave me when I spoke to a group there four years ago. It’s smaller than a golf ball and it’s…”
He seemed really, really happy with this last piece of information. He even said, “I’ll get right on it,” whatever that meant. Y’all, within one hour, as I stood in the 98-degree sweltering heat, watering my drooping tomatoes, my cell phone rung. I had it inside my pants pocket. I jumped a mile.
The LAFD manager had indeed found my keys! I was so happy I wasn’t even going to ask him where, it didn’t matter. But he told me anyway: They were on his desk, underneath a cigarette display. I know. That makes no sense. I told him I was on my way and I asked him if it appeared all of my keys, all of my special customer thingies AND my lime green striped ball were all there. (I didn’t want one single thing missing.) But he interrupted me to say he had another call. Someone had found two navel oranges and he had to locate the owner.