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Misplaced in Mass Transit

BY Duncan Bitrim

Author

What’s the most important thing that you have ever lost? Was it a phone, tablet, or computer? Something packed full of important data and valuable files that you just can’t work or function without? What about a piece of jewelry like a wedding ring or family heirloom? Some things are too priceless to replace.

We all can be forgetful at times. It’s far too easy to let something fall out of your pocket, or put something down without remembering to pick it back up when you leave. When you’re in a public place, forgetting or misplacing these items can have dire consequences. You’re at the mercy of the environment. When it comes to public transportation, that environment can be harsh. The overhead compartments on busses, trains and planes swallow up your belongings, never to be seen again. You can only hope and pray that a Good Samaritan will come across your misplaced treasure.

I am a public transit rider. I am a forgetful klutz. I know the feeling all too well of reaching into an empty pocket and immediately being overwhelmed with that sinking feeling in your gut. That’s why I always use my mantra as I pat my pockets down- “Keys. Phone. Wallet.”

Last month, my keys fell out of my backpack. Anxiety and stress immediately told me they were lost somewhere in the big city, never to be seen again. With hundreds of busses navigating the Washington Metropolitan Area, I never expected what would’ve happened the next day. I calculated the bus routes down to a science, and ended up with the same exact coach driver as the day before! Scurrying up the stairs, I asked right away if he picked up any keys from the night before. Our language barrier didn’t stop us. He didn’t speak well, but he saw the desperation in my face and began rummaging through his backpack. Pulling out multiple sets of keys, most likely accumulated from all the other poor schmucks that are forgetful like myself, asked me “these yours?”. I don’t think I’ve ever thanked someone in my life.
Just yesterday, I think the same thing happened to my wallet. Most likely left on the commuter bus, where people come and go through all hours of the day. Fingers crossed that the same bus driver is still looking out for me.

I am just another statistic. People lose these common things on transit everyday. Where does it all go? According to MTA, most of it ends up at the Lost Property Unit offices under Penn Station. But what about other things? The weird and uncommon? They’re there too. From used dentures, to death certificates and air conditioning units, it’s hard to understand how some of this stuff gets lost. It makes me feel like not such a klutz.

If you don’t find your lost items, the NYC Transit’s Asset Recovery Group takes them to auction. Everything from bicycles, to laptops to surplus transit equipment can be purchased at http://web.mta.info/nyct/materiel/cursales.htm .

Check out this article about common and unusual items taken to the MTA lost and found-

The Most Common Items Lost on New York City’s Transit System