We were halfway through a nine-hour drive home from our family vacation when my husband’s cell phone rang. It was the hotel, informing us that we’d “left an item” behind.
“What?” I asked, as in, what the heck was it? We’d scoured that room repeatedly before we left; I was pretty sure it was empty.
She couldn’t tell me over the phone; my husband would have to figure out the missing item and call her back to identify it, and then we could make arrangements to pick it up. (Um…..did you notice the area code you just dialed? We’re not exactly next door.)
My husband and I spent the next five to ten minutes running through every possible item we could have possibly left behind. My immediate response was to turn to the kids in the backseat and start an inventory of “loveys:” “Do you have Blanket? Do you have your Blanket?” and on down the line of stuffed animals that just had to come with us. Finally, eventually, we realized we’d left a pair of my husband’s jeans hanging in the hotel closet. Oops.
I tell this story because of two observations I made in that scramble of “what’s missing?”
First, the most important things to us, the “oh, no, we left that?” things, the things that would be truly heartbreaking to lose, are things that look like total garbage to other people. Aside from my camera (photos) and our phones (photos and information), all the important stuff doesn’t look important. Things like stuffed animals worn gray from so much love, and blankets that are–in the words of my son–no longer blankets, but “a wad of yarn.” These are the things that no amount of money could ever replace; the things that, while we might not drive back for them, we would absolutely pay to ship home into the waiting arms of their owners.
Second, I wondered how many people have so much stuff that if they left something behind, they might never figure out what it was. It took us a long time to walk through what we’d brought and what we possibly could have left, and we’d only been away for four nights. I wondered how often the hotel would call people informing them of an “item left behind,” and people would never call back, because they didn’t ever really notice it was gone, they didn’t ever really miss it. I’m beginning to look around my home, now, wondering: would I miss that? If that item went away, would I want it back? Would I pay to retrieve it? It’s been an interesting exercise.
If nothing else, I’ve learned to check hotel closets. 🙂