Miss(ed) Manners

November 11, 2005

Miss(ed) Manners: Lost and Found and Requisitioned

Filed under: Column — missedmanners @ 4:58 pm

Nothing sucks more than losing something, because that something usually isn’t nothing, and then it becomes a whole thing. You search your pockets, your apartment, your office, your car (or the Taxi and Limousine office if you live in New York), your friend’s car (or their pockets, apartment and office), but you don’t find it, you never do.

The feeling of dread that sets in when you’ve exhausted all possible points of search and are staring through the dim light of an excavated apartment at your dog’s anus and considering grabbing a pair of dish gloves, is not a good feeling. No one wants to be Casio deep in a schnauser looking for a wedding ring.

I know this feeling. Years of lax brain activity and the daily abuse of network television have left my short term memory as effective as taking a composite sketch of architectural plans from Hellen Keller.


“The center joist was longer? Ok.”

Anyway, I’ve lost phones, term papers, bags, wallets, phone numbers and dignity more times than I’d like to admit, but I’ve never lost my keys.

My big brother, Jon, did though. A few weeks ago he came down to visit from the country. Me being the cultured city dweller that I am, did what we all do with family members coming to experience the zenith of Western Civilization that is New York, I took him out and got him drunk.

This trip involved one mega club and a few bars. Needless to say we skipped the Guggenheim and headed straight for Chuggenheim, capitol of Vodkadistan. The next morning, as we stumbled around my apartment trying not to talk too loud I noticed a frenzy enter his hungover flailings. He was searching for his keys.

Here’s the situation: The keys were to a car in long term parking. We went to several places. We had no idea when, where or how they’d gone missing. I don’t have a schnauser so you can hang up on PETA. I tried to explain to him that they were gone. The only thing anyone’s ever found in a nightclub Lost and Found is herpes.

Needless to say he spent the whole day petitioning the places we’d been to look through their collections for a non-descript set of keys. He was sorely dissappointed and the poor guy had to go back upstate and deal with getting a new set.

For every story where something goes missing and never turns up some jack ass has got a story of how miraculously something was lost, found and then returned. In this case, that jack ass is me. A while back I lost my palm pilot. I lost my palm pilot that was given to me by my bosses as a gift. I lost my gifted palm pilot in the back of a cab a week after I’d gotten it.

I was crushed. Not really because of the monetary value of the gadget or of the added, “functionality” that it might add to my life. No, it was just that it was a slap in the face to the people who’d gotten it for me, like I didn’t care enough about it to keep an eye on it.

Fortunately, the cab driver found the device in his car and started calling numbers at random from the phone book. While this meant that several of my business contacts got midnight calls from someone named Amir, it also meant that eventually he found his way to my best friend, who then called me. I picked up the device the next day, all giggles, balloons and glitter.

Basically what I’m saying is that I’ve been on both sides of this situation. I’ve lost something important and had it stay lost. I’ve also had something returned. The former sucks harder than Paris Hilton at dollar beer night in a Cancun bar. The latter kicks more ass than Clint Eastwood at a euthanasia clinic.

So quick rewind to last Friday night when I was terribly busy, very late to get somewhere and all kinds of stressed out. I had just gotten out of a cab in midtown and was heading to see a man about a foamcore sign. I was doing my usual New York emo walk (eyes down, looking pained), when I saw something white next to the curb.

It was an iPod Shuffle. Right there, tucked next to a grate, looking lost and scared. It was mid town in the evening so thousands of people were streaming by it. As I bent down to pick it up, I looked around, not a stationary soul in sight. Everyone on their way somewhere. No name, phone number or otherwise distinguishing mark on it.

I put it in my pocket and walked off. Cruel I know. But a) I was late and b) there is absolutely no way I was going to find its owner in mid town, not at that hour, and certainly not that close to Times Square.

Later, in a cab ride I decided to take a listen to see what kind of person I’d just relieved of a music box. The first song? Toby Keith’s “Courtesy Of The Red, White, And Blue (The Angry American)” If you’re unfamiliar with the song, it’s an angry diatribe about how awesome it is that we blew up A-rabs.

Here’s a selection of lyrics from Cyrano himself:

Soon as we could see clearly
Through our big black eye
Man, we lit up your world
Like the 4th of July

Right after that song? Eminem. I shit you not.

A friend of mine said that it was karma. I told him I didn’t think that I’d done anything to deserve such a gift, especially considering how my last iPod had died such a tragic death. He said, no, it was karma for the Shuffle’s orignal owner for being a trogolodyte.

Sounds good in theory, but honestly, I think karma is among the stupidest creations of collective human thought, right next to Making the Band. It makes absolutely no sense and I can prove it. If karma existed, all traffic cops would simultaneously burst into flames and then be reincarnated as lichen or cheese mold.

While this person’s particular taste in music did make me feel better about deleting all the files the shuffle and inserting my own eclectic mix of Clay Aiken and Celtic Folk music, it didn’t last very long. This guy (assumed gender), wherever he is, though it’s probably a picket line outside a women’s clinic, he’s feeling the same way I felt when I lost that palm pilot.

While I certainly wouldn’t mind hanging on to it, I have no right to it. It’s not mine and while I’m still convinced in the idiocy of karma, I’m a big fan of people retaining an assumption of the innate goodness of mankind, especially mankind of the Manhattan variety.

So, my red-stated friend, if somehow this column makes its way across the internets to your own particular corner, which I’m sure is all decked out with animated American flag GIF’s, get in contact with me, I’ve got your iPod and I’ll mail it to you in West Virginia or wherever. Though we’re going to have to chat about your taste in music first. You really don’t know what you’re missing from this Clay kid.

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