Caring About Carelessness

When I was out for a walk yesterday, I stopped to pick up a dime that I saw on the sidewalk. A man who was passing by gave me a funny little smile and I wondered what he was thinking. I certainly didn’t need the dime, and I’m sure someone else might have needed it much more than I did, but at the same time, I didn’t want to leave it there. It would have seemed like a waste. As I walked on I could hear my mother’s voice saying “See a penny, pick it up, and all the day you’ll have good luck.”

Girl Finds a Penny
Finding Money on the Road from

Just lately I seem to have come across a few things left lying about in public places, and each time I have wondered what to do about it.

When I was at Edmonton International Airport last week, I saw that someone had left a pair of reading glasses by one of the washbasins in the washroom. I thought about picking them up and taking them somewhere, but that didn’t make sense. If the owner wanted to find them, they would look for them where they thought they had left them– in the washroom. Even so, I felt I should tell someone, so I told the woman in the phone accessories store that if someone was looking for reading glasses, they were in the washroom. That may not make much sense to you, but the store was right outside the washroom, and I couldn’t see any security guards or signs to a Lost and Found office, so that was the best I could do at the time.

A couple of hours later, just before my flight was to leave, I visited the washroom again and I found a small earring, or it might have been a bracelet charm. This time, though, I knew the futility of trying to do something about it. I just picked it up and put it on top of the toilet paper dispenser. At least it would be more visible there, I thought.

Lost and Found Box from Wikimedia Commons

Then yesterday, when I was taking my documents to the tax accountant, I parked my car facing a hedge that surrounded the parking lot. As I was gathering my thoughts and my documents I looked up and realized that someone had hidden a bicycle behind the hedge. It was only just barely visible above the hedge, but the handlebars were showing and I could tell that it was a pretty good bike. Once again, I was struck by a dilemma. I wondered if it had been stolen and dumped there or if it belonged to someone who worked in one of the nearby businesses. Either way, I didn’t know who I could report it to if I reported it at all. Not being able to answer any of these questions, I left it there and didn’t tell anyone. But, it bothered me.

Why do I care about other people’s lost possessions? It may have something to do with the fact that I grew up hearing “Waste not, want not” so often that it is embedded in my psyche. Perhaps I feel sorry for the person who has had something lost or stolen because I have been in that place myself more than once. I know the gut-wrenching realization that something you owned and needed or wanted has been taken. It’s a horrible feeling.

Or maybe I’m just a busybody. Yes, that’s probably it. I’ve become a nitpicker, a fussbudget, a pettifogger. If it doesn’t involve me, it shouldn’t concern me, right? Right. I’m going to stop caring about other people’s lost things from now on. Really. No, really. I will. Honestly.


  1. I don’t think you’re a busybody. I think you’re a helper, and that you’re trying in whatever small ways you can to set the world to rights. That’s pretty laudable, in my book.

  2. When I was around 13 or 14 I found a wallet while crossing the Grosvenor Bridge ( in Chester) on my way home from Scouts. There was no ID inside but there was some paper money – forget if it was much – and some other stuff.
    I took it to the Police Station the following day, ( it never crossed my mind not to) left my name and contact number and a couple of days later while I was at school my mother received a phone call from a very relieved and immensely grateful lady.

    So, I think your concern is admirable.

  3. This is the first time I have heard pettifogger….can you find my mind I think it’s lost 🙂 It could be a new profession for you!

    • I think your mind is right where you left it, Sue! It is happily wondering about friendly pettifoggers. I should add that I only find other people’s lost things. My own lost things are often mislaid in places that it takes at least half an hour to find.

  4. I always smile when I see that that others have set lost objects up somewhere safe so that they may be found again. It tells me the person who did that, has a kind soul.

  5. Snowbird you aren’t a busybody!!! this happens to me too, though less often hahaha. I liked reading this, made me feel fresh

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