Thursday, March 14, 2019

Lost and found gone wrong

I played only a bit part in this lost and found drama at my library. And there were people involved that I don't want to drag over any coals. But I find the event too astonishing to merely set aside. And though I suspect the story I heard might have an essential flaw in it, I cannot let go of the possibility that the story is disturbingly correct. Nevertheless I'll try to bring as much neutrality to the situation as possible. You can read the story and try to determine where my sense of astonished horror comes from.

Someone left a rare coin behind at the library. It was in a Plexiglas case, almost like a small paperweight. It was found by one of my co-workers out on a public work table behind the front desk. She brought it to the back room to muse over. It was from the 1920's. It was in very nice shape. I looked it up on the Internet. It was gold! It was worth, retail at least, between three and four hundred dollars!

"Wow." We all said, because this is the bland suburbs, and because none of us make very much money.

My co-worker did with this treasure exactly what it is both our culture and our policy to do. She put it in the safe under the front desk and told everyone working in the vicinity about it.

But as it happens the staff working everywhere from the back room, to the desk, to the phones, and even to the many manager's office, changes with the tides. It ebbs and flows. It sweeps in and out. So when the person who left this valuable coin called us up, fairly frantic, some hours later, all the people who knew about the coin were somewhere else, shelving, or at lunch, or wandering remote corners of the library aimlessly.

And so we come to the first confusion of the story. Everyone available looked for the golden coin, but none of them looked in the single most likely place we would keep a valuable item. No one looked in the safe we have for the keeping of lost and found items of value. I don't know why. But there it is. They didn't find it anywhere, and they reported this bad news to the very upset man.

He was distressed, so they said they would take his name and number in case we came across his coin. But this is a big library. Where would one put this note? Fortunately they had an obvious solution. They put it where, if we found something valuable, we would put it.

They taped the note to the front of the safe they never looked in.


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