Lost and Never Found

Posted on Wednesday 12 April 2006

There is one absolute if you work in a restaurant: You will never need to buy an umbrella.

A dozen or so are left behind every week–on tabletops, in seats, under tables, on coat hooks–even on days when it’s not raining!

Sometimes, a person comes back several days later to claim one, offering this description: “It’s black.” Then we play 20 questions. Is it lightweight, small, or full-size? Does it have an unusual handle or distinctive marks on it? Is it a designer brand or Totes or what?

After I get a few more details, I call the office to see if there’s a match with any left in the lost-and-found bins. The 20 questions game continues when the office assistant tries to whittle down the possibilities. Does it have a broken snap? Does it fold up really, really small–smaller than normal umbrellas? Does is have a brown tip on the end? Does it have a chipped brown tip on the end?

Yesterday, someone came in asking for her black umbrella, saying, as she held up the nylon sleeve all umbrellas come with that I assumed everyone threw away, “And it fits this.”

I sent her upstairs, the office assistant came out with an assortment of possibilities, and voila, an actual reunion of owner with umbrella occurred! I was quite impressed.

Mostly, though, we collect a lot of stuff, keep it for months, then donate it. This includes:

* Coats–trench, wool, long, short, jackets, parkas, cheap, designer

* Glasses–reading, sun, prescription, clip-ons

* Scarves–silk, wool, hand knitted, Pashmina (I kinda had my eye on that one, but missed it before it went to its final donation resting spot)

* Hats–wool, felt, straw, fake fur, along with a zillion baseball caps representing every team of any sport ever played in every part of the world

* Books–text, library (uh oh–fines!), paperback, hardback, bestellers, classics

* Earrings–always one (never a pair), usually a silver hoop

Then there are the handwritten missives from our customers begging us to look for their various items. This morning, while doing my usual sweep for abandoned paraphernalia at the podium, I found this neatly written note: “Lost, gold button. Please call me as soon as you find it.” And she left her name and two phone numbers. (What, no email address?)

A button. Who would think to go to such lengths to retrieve a button? Who would think the restaurant staff would go to such lengths to retrieve a button? Seriously, a button?

Inquiring minds want to know, what’s with all this left-behind business anyway? If I leave something at a store or restaurant, I figure it out pretty fast and retrieve it right away.

Although there is that awesome denim jacket I still mourn the loss of, more than a year later, that I am confident is draped around the shoulders of some lucky, small-statured server!

5 Comments for 'Lost and Never Found'

  1.  
    Junior
    April 13, 2006 | 5:23 am
     

    if you have a KC Royals Hat then i say “Thank God, I’m not the only one”.. and I know half that stuff never makes it to donation.. I’m a bartender.. got a lovely Denim Jacket out of it… lol… kidding its leather….

  2.  
    April 13, 2006 | 4:44 pm
     

    I just started reading your blog and I really enjoy it. Your commentary and observation on the masses of humanity that pass through the restaurant are amusing and touching.

  3.  
    restaurant Gal
    April 13, 2006 | 6:51 pm
     

    Junior–GIVE IT BACK! Or the Royals hat is headed to …. you know where.

  4.  
    Rini
    April 14, 2006 | 4:41 pm
     

    You think leaving a note for a button is bad? I’m the graveyard-shift hostess at a small, local, 24-hour jersey diner… A few weeks ago, I had a very drunk man come in at 4 am, claiming he lost the button off the shirt he was wearing. Despite the fact that his shirt wasn’t missing any buttons, I looked in our lost and found, found nothing and informed him. Well, he decided he wanted to look around for it and I indulged him in this until he started moving around all the tables and chairs in the dining room. I politely told him he couldn’t do this and he threw such a hissy fit that even the cooks came running out of the kitchen. I ended up having to threaten to call the police if he didn’t leave immediately. He finally left, but not before informing me he’d be back in case anyone found it. The exact same questions ran through my head… Who in the world would go to such lengths for a button?! Why in the world would anyone else care about your button?! It’s a bleeping button, take your butt to Rag Shop and buy another one! LOL… thanks for the laugh..

  5.  
    Sean
    April 14, 2006 | 7:18 pm
     

    I worked bar in Stamford, Ct, and got lots of nice stuff from ‘left-behinds’. We had no official policy, so left behinds were put behind the bar, and I doled them out when asked.

    Being King of L&F, I got a Zippo, and a really cool Jeep lighter that broke shortly after I brought it home. I never got umbrellas-they were put near the door (i’m against ‘brellas).

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