Recently, one of my employees had her wallet stolen by a pickpocket in the subway system (she concluded it was not lost by the various details concerning her bag). She called and had to rendezvous with me to borrow money to return home. She is now in the process of canceling and replacing her credit cards, drivers license, and other critically important documents and cards.
To lose things of importance is a tremendous inconvenience, not to mention replacement cost. Anyone who has lost a wallet can attest to this. And unfortunately, the prospect of return is grim - where is one to look?
I don't trust others to handle finding the owner of a lost article in a timely fashion. By timely, I mean with a sense of real urgency. After all, the person losing an article, particularly ID and credit cards, needs to know the status as soon as possible. Otherwise, unnecessary efforts will be made. Nearly all will make the assumption that anything lost, is lost forever. This is why, on a number of occasions, I have turned the return of a lost item into a minor obsession - you can read my story about a lost, found and returned driver's license and the owner, Nicole Dubuc. See Area Code 714, Part 1 here and Area Code 714, Part 2 here.
On December 26, 2008, in a story called Lost and Found, I told of my experience in Paris, where lost articles were often repositioned prominently in near where it was found, in hopes the original owner will return via that route and find it. Since that time, I have noticed this practice on the streets of New York City. It may come as somewhat surprising, but the more aware you are of this practice, the more likely you will notice it.
I wish there was a better way to handle lost and found articles - a definitive, universally known and utilized place and system. There are a number of New York City lost and found websites and also labeling systems, which, of course, require advance preventive action. However, unless the whole endeavor is centralized and reaches critical mass, most will never use any lost and found.
On Monday, March 14th, at the Astor Place train station, I was very surprised and pleased to see one high heel shoe prominently placed in the window of the token booth. I assumed this was a lost shoe being displayed for its owner and not the New York City Transit Authority's foray into a new program - Titillation of the Day :)