There is one absolute if you work in a restaurant: You will never need to buy an umbrella.
A dozen or so are left behind every week–on tabletops, in seats, under tables, on coat hooks–even on days when it’s not raining!
Sometimes, a person comes back several days later to claim one, offering this description: “It’s black.” Then we play 20 questions. Is it lightweight, small, or full-size? Does it have an unusual handle or distinctive marks on it? Is it a designer brand or Totes or what?
After I get a few more details, I call the office to see if there’s a match with any left in the lost-and-found bins. The 20 questions game continues when the office assistant tries to whittle down the possibilities. Does it have a broken snap? Does it fold up really, really small–smaller than normal umbrellas? Does is have a brown tip on the end? Does it have a chipped brown tip on the end?
Yesterday, someone came in asking for her black umbrella, saying, as she held up the nylon sleeve all umbrellas come with that I assumed everyone threw away, “And it fits this.”
I sent her upstairs, the office assistant came out with an assortment of possibilities, and voila, an actual reunion of owner with umbrella occurred! I was quite impressed.
Mostly, though, we collect a lot of stuff, keep it for months, then donate it. This includes:
* Coats–trench, wool, long, short, jackets, parkas, cheap, designer
* Glasses–reading, sun, prescription, clip-ons
* Scarves–silk, wool, hand knitted, Pashmina (I kinda had my eye on that one, but missed it before it went to its final donation resting spot)
* Hats–wool, felt, straw, fake fur, along with a zillion baseball caps representing every team of any sport ever played in every part of the world
* Books–text, library (uh oh–fines!), paperback, hardback, bestellers, classics
* Earrings–always one (never a pair), usually a silver hoop
Then there are the handwritten missives from our customers begging us to look for their various items. This morning, while doing my usual sweep for abandoned paraphernalia at the podium, I found this neatly written note: “Lost, gold button. Please call me as soon as you find it.” And she left her name and two phone numbers. (What, no email address?)
A button. Who would think to go to such lengths to retrieve a button? Who would think the restaurant staff would go to such lengths to retrieve a button? Seriously, a button?
Inquiring minds want to know, what’s with all this left-behind business anyway? If I leave something at a store or restaurant, I figure it out pretty fast and retrieve it right away.
Although there is that awesome denim jacket I still mourn the loss of, more than a year later, that I am confident is draped around the shoulders of some lucky, small-statured server!