The Lost Art of Finding the Lost

The lost is found.

The lost is found.

I can find things. No, I mean I am really good at finding things. At least I used to be.

Everyone in my household depends on me to locate their personal effects. I could be away running some errands and pick up a call from my husband who wants to know if I’ve seen his (fill in whatever here). The weird thing about it is that I usually do know where it is. My children will claim not to know where some article of clothing or a book is, and I can march down to their rooms and find it sometimes within seconds.

When queried about lost items, my responses are usually something like these:

“Your thumb drive is on the floor next to the nightstand’s foot closest to the bed.”

“I saw your book under your laptop on the side table next to the striped chair in the living room.”

“Your sun glasses are on the bookshelf, second shelf down.” And/or: “If you mean the other pair, it is on your dresser next to your wallet.”

When my family members express amazement that once again I have located something they swear they couldn’t find if their lives depended on it, I shrug and say something like, “You know I’m good at finding things.”  I’d rather retort, “How could you NOT know where it is, YOU left it there. In fact, it’s been there for 5 DAYS. I’ve walked past it at LEAST 100 times and so have YOU.” Of course, in the interest of family harmony, I do not express these thoughts. Usually.

They think my talent is freakish. To me it’s normal and to be expected given that our house is pretty small, and I spend an inordinate amount of time here. My husband claims that he is not the only male who demonstrates this lack of ability, and besides that, I must have magical powers. My gift works like this: someone asks about an object and a mental image pops into my brain of the item and its setting. No magic involved, just a bit of undiagnosed OCD.

I have thought seriously about putting this skill on my LinkedIn account and on my resume. Where would I list such expertise? Under “Weird Stuff That I’m Good at, But No One Will Ever Pay Me for”? Perhaps in my cover letter I should compose a short appeal like, “I look forward to hearing from you soon about this position, and if you grant me an interview, I’ll find that favorite pen you misplaced in your office.” The job market being what it is, maybe my resume will then rise to the top of the pile. Why is it that employers value SEO capabilities so much more than my special competency? After all, they’re kind of the same thing, aren’t they?

The entropy in the household has increased significantly since Ginger became part of the family. Disorder rules, and I can’t seem to remember where everything is. It took several minutes for me to locate her favorite ball. In fact, no image flashed in my brain when I went to look for the toy. I found this occurrence quite disconcerting, and was so relieved when I found the ball under the striped chair.

I have developed the following hypotheses to explain my declining skill level:

1. I am so sleep-deprived after over two weeks of insufficient slumber each night that I spend most of the day in a haze of subpar cognition.

2. My finding skill has been replaced in my neuroanatomy by an obsession with puppy elimination and a nascent mental map of every spot that she has employed for such purposes.

3. When I walk through the house, I am looking down to avoid stepping on her (see “Canine Foot Fetish and Other Topics I thought I’d Never Write About”), and my brain is no longer registering the surrounding items and their whereabouts.

4. Puppies are like toddlers in their ability to generate chaos.

5. It is really hard to find stuff while holding a puppy, who is trying to bite my head, when I crouch down to look under the couch.

6. I am getting old.

After considerable thought, I reject all of the above (especially the last one) and will practice a little role reversal with my family members instead.

“Hey kids, have either of you seen my . . . ?