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.”
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.
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.