A few weeks ago, my son was vacationing in Jamaica with a dozen of his friends. On the day when they were ready to leave, my son went to his hotel room’s safe to get out his wallet and passport, and the passport was not there. Knowing he had definitely put it there, he went into a panic. His friends spent the rest of their final morning on the island searching for the passport, wondering if someone entered the room and stole it.
After getting the hotel crew involved in the search, as well as the local police, my son traveled to the consulate and was told he would have to remain in one of the major cities for about two to three weeks until his passport could be re-issued because there was no way he could leave the country without it. By this time, my son said he was getting almost physically sick, thinking of all his friends leaving and about all his obligations at home and being stuck behind for weeks by himself. I know, if you’re like me, enduring all this yucky winter weather, being “stuck” in tropical Jamaica doesn’t sound all that torturous. However, to be fair, I guess being left behind, completely alone in a strange Jamaican city did sound a wee bit scary.
To make a long, frightening story short, when everyone was giving a last second scour of the room before they all left, one of my son’s friends miraculously found the black passport lodged inside the black door of the safe. No one saw it — not him, his friends, the police or the hotel crew, even with flashlights. Thank God that my son was able to make his flight at the last minute and arrive safely home on time.
As he recounted the episode to me, I slightly related to the frustration of searching for a lost item. During that same week, I was turning my house upside down and inside out, hunting for the title of a car I was selling. I finally gave up and sent the fee to PennDOT to reissue it, although I am sure that eventually the title will rear its ugly little head somewhere.
During that same week, I also rearranged my entire living room because I fell asleep on my couch one night and lost my eyeglasses. I looked under the couch, the tables, the chairs and in every cushion and pillow with no luck. I still haven’t found them. Now, granted, my home may not be out of Better Homes and Gardens, but it’s certainly not disorderly enough to prevent me from locating a pair of glasses! The disappearance has me baffled, and thankfully I have a spare pair to use. However, all of this frustrating searching had me wondering how much of our lives that we must spend looking for things we can’t find. I had to research and see because I knew I read some crazy statistics about it before. Here’s the scoop:
• Average Americans spend one year of their life looking for lost or misplaced items. (US News and World Report)
• On average, people spend six minutes looking for their keys in the morning. (IKEA)
• The top five items men look for in their homes are clean socks, remote control, wedding album, car keys and driver’s license. For women, the top five items are shoes, a child’s toy, wallet, lipstick and the remote control. (IKEA)
• The average American wastes 55 minutes a day (roughly 12 days a year) looking for things they own but can’t find. (Newsweek)
• The average office employee spends 1.5 hours a day or roughly six weeks per year looking for things. (OrganizedWorld.com)
• The typical executive wastes 150 hours a year, which is almost an entire month, searching for lost information. For someone earning $50,000 a year, this loss is equivalent to $3,842 annually. (Forbes)
• Americans collectively waste more than 9 million hours each day looking for lost and misplaced articles. (American Demographic Society)
I know professional organizers, a big business these days, will tell people they need to de-clutter and simplify in order to lessen their need for daily searches of lost items. I can remember the good Sisters teaching us in grade school that “orderliness is next to Godliness and we should have a place for everything and everything in its place.” That’s easier said than done. Of course, most of us have a place where we put our keys, our coats, our handbags and other items that we use on a daily basis because we don’t want to waste time searching for them. But what about the oddball things like the car title or a certain fork that we only use when we eat spaghetti or any item that we don’t use on a regular basis? What about the unusual situations that result in a lost item, like the snoozing on the couch or the passport getting caught and camouflaged in the safe door?
I couldn’t find any info on the unusual situations, but I did come across an alarming statistic in the New York Daily News. Americans lose an average of $5,591 in items over a lifetime — enough to keep a family of four in the U.S. well fed for four months, according to a recent survey. I thought of me having to re-order that title — it cost me 50 bucks. The article also listed the 10 most frequently lost or misplaced items, which I found not too surprising but humorous since they seem so typical: car keys, house keys, winter accessories, clothing, credit or debit card, wallet, watch or jewelry, cash, umbrella and driver’s license. The list made me chuckle, because I could think of a few people that I know who would surpass the statistics for how often they lose or misplace their keys and wallet. I won’t mention any names, but my husband had to be at the top of that list. I did feel a little better because I didn’t see eyeglasses on there — or car titles.
I would like to say misplacing items comes with age, but I don’t think that’s true. People of all ages forget where they placed things, and in this rush of a world we live in these days, it’s easier than ever to absentmindedly put an item somewhere while your mind is preoccupied by a thousand other things. I know that I myself pray to St. Anthony on almost a daily basis.
I guess there’s no solution. Getting a little more organized can help put a stop to the simple list of items we lose, but as for the rest of them, I guess it’s just a part of our humanity, a frustrating hide-and-seek game we must play daily, looking for a certain paper that we know we just saw somewhere or a particular handbags that matches our outfit and must be around here in one closet or the otherc—cor did I just see it up in the attic?
Let me share one final hint that I read that may help while you retrace your steps, looking for an object. It’s a fact that most objects are right in the vicinity of where they’re supposed to be or where you last remember seeing them. This sounds so obvious, but somehow it’s very helpful advice. Repeatedly, I’ve found that after turning the whole house upside down looking for something, I eventually find it, more or less, where I originally thought it should be, but somehow I missed seeing it on the first or second look-around.
Whatever you do, don’t feel like you’re cracking up or “losing it” simply because you often misplace or lose items. After all, from the looks of those statistics, we’re only human and right about average. Now, where in the heck did I put that list of statistics that I just printed out and wanted to save? Maybe, it’s right next to my eyeglasses.