lost & found

TriMet Lost & Found sign, SE Center & 17th Avenue

Coming home from work on the bus the other day, I put my book away and stood up to leave, hearing a metallic clink. I couldn't think of anything of mine that would have fallen and so gave only a cursory glance at my spot and then got off the bus, walking the two blocks up to the transfer stop, where my reflection in the window of a bus showed I was missing an earring. Oops. They're not valuable but a simple pair worn often. Plus, I have good (if vague) memories of the day I spotted them in the gift shop of the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, which my then-boyfriend gifted to me, replica of an ancient teardrop design.

Two days later, I had time to contact TriMet's Lost & Found office. One either calls their number and leaves a detailed message or fills out an online form of who, what, when, and where. (They don't care about the how or why.) So I submitted the online form. But since I live near TriMet's administrative offices, I figured I'd also go in person, imagining an office counter somewhere with a view of a large storage room full of bins, which there surely is, only the view customers get is of the Lost & Found bus out front and a man speaking through a hole in the back window.* Like Cinderella with her one shoe, I showed him the matching earring. He wrote a note on a legal pad and made a phone call somewhere into the depths of the building behind the truck. Then he shook his head, "Sorry, ma'am. Nothing was turned in." He said to try again on Monday.

TriMet Lost & Found bus, SE Center & 17th Avenue

"Why would anyone want one drop earring with a French hook?" I asked Jeff, walking back to my place. It's not like it was in any way punk or edgy enough to warrant rounding out someone's uneven set of ear holes. "Was it silver?" he asked. "Yes." "Well, pawn shops take silver, melt it down," he said. "Are you serious? Even that little bit?" "Yep."

So there goes my earring, found and pawned off by some crackhead on the bus. A driver I'd asked said the bus drivers and the cleaners check for lost items each day, so employees would have found it by now. At least I didn't lose my phone, phones having surpassed umbrellas as the object most left on the bus, though the strangest lost item has to have been a human skeleton. (See here for the quiz.)

Jeff had come over for dinner, so walking to my place on the way back, we stopped by the Warehouse Café on Milwaukie Avenue to pick up accompaniments for a chickpea-and-spinach salad. Warehouse Café in Portland's Brooklyn neighborhood is half coffee shop, half (very small) grocery co-op. Unlike how it is in rural areas where I grew up or the suburbs where friends live, in inner southeast Portland one can spend $12 on a locally made baguette and organic apples and avocados if one is out walking on an errand with a friend and feeling too lazy to walk twenty more minutes over to a slightly less expensive and bigger co-op (People's) or to New Season's. Take that, suburbanites!

tiny carrot, Warehouse Café, Brooklyn, Portland, OR

Going local also means more conversations with strangers, which isn't such a bad thing, even for an introvert. I asked the cashier if she knew anything about the broken green vintage chair sitting outside around the corner. She walked out of the shop and came back saying, "Don't know. But it looks like a free chair. Score!" Then she showed me a tiny carrot she'd found that day in their stock, though all my pictures turned out blurry (boo!).

free curbside: broken vintage green chair needing TLC

Good-bye earring, hello chair! This painted green chair, the back of which came in pieces (not pictured), needs reupholstering and a few ounces of wood glue, but Jeff and I can handle that. (What else can a person expect for free?) I'd like to think my decorative style is more modern and clean-lined than this chair—which I'm guessing dates from the 1930's or 40's—with its curves and a center back that reminds me of cat whiskers; but I also prefer eclectic interiors with objects collected and edited from different eras and places so that everything doesn't look like it was all put on a credit card from the same chain store—Wrap it up! I'll take the whole room!—which would show serious lack of imagination, time, or personality.
As I've written about before, objects come and go, earrings, chairs, and everything else. According to TriMet, only a fraction of what's lost on buses or MAX actually gets claimed, most likely because of people assuming their belongings were stolen rather than found. I'll check back a few more times for the earring, though it's probably gone for good. And for the record, in case one day on the bus or train you lose an umbrella, phone, or Grandma's ashes, there's a deadline: TriMet only keeps unclaimed items for two weeks, after which everything gets donated to Goodwill—except maybe Grandma.

*Note: Apparently, customers used to be allowed into a lobby to talk to someone on the phone, though reporters have gotten peeks at the actual storage room.

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