Do you ever wonder what you could have accomplished with your life if you hadn’t spent so much of it looking for your car keys? And your reading glasses? And your cellphone, checkbook and TV remote?
Estimates vary, but some say the average person spends around two and a half days a year looking for misplaced items. I don’t mean to brag, but I’m way above average. I’ve spent that much time this week looking for my favorite fleece jacket. I haven’t found it yet either.
Also, do you ever regret the toll misplacing things has taken on your relationships? You’re not alone. I read that four out of ten people admit they argue with their partners about lost items. I’m proud to say I’m not one of them. What I do is worse.
After looking in all the places where I put my cellphone when I don’t put it where it belongs, I ask my husband, “Have you seen my cellphone?” That sounds nice enough on paper, but I never ask him on paper.
He can tell by my tone that I’m really saying, “What did you do with my cellphone?” And when he says, “No, I haven’t,” I can tell by his tone that he’s really saying, “I wouldn’t touch your cellphone. I have my own.”
Worst of all though, do you ever wonder if it’s not just your gloves, shoes and kitchen shears you’re losing? A lot of middle-aged people I know worry about early onset dementia every time they misplace their checkbook. The stress of a self-diagnosis like that doesn’t help them remember where they put it either.
Nor does it help that our grown children start hinting advancing age may be the reason we can never find our reading glasses. Never mind we once spent entire days helping them find lost blankies, mittens and math homework. That alone should reassure us that age isn’t necessarily the reason we can’t find our can opener.
Clearly people lose things at all stages of life. I was in my 30s when I lost the $40 sunglasses that clipped onto my prescription lenses. I went for almost a month without them, squinting into the sun, looking every place I could think of, convinced that eventually the sunglasses would show up. And they did — five minutes after I gave up and ordered a new pair. Turns out the prodigal sunglasses were in the pocket of the jacket I was wearing the day I gave up looking for them. Apparently the day I lost them too.
I was annoyed at the time, but now I find it a comforting reminder that age may not have anything to do with it when I misplace something. I may be forgetful, absentminded and scatterbrained, but at least I’m not old.
I’m also encouraged by an article I read once on the subject. The author said that, no matter what our age, it makes perfect sense that we forget where we put things. We put down our car keys because we’re done with them. We’re literally dismissing them and moving on to something else we’ll probably misplace.
He had a suggestion that I’ve found to be very effective — when I remember to use it. Instead of casually dismissing the item and going about our business, we should speak to it firmly. For example, you might tell your car keys, “I’m putting you in this pocket and you better be here when I get back!”
Yes it’s embarrassing, but think of the time it will save and the arguments it will prevent. Plus your children won’t worry so much about you misplacing things, though they may be concerned that you’ve started talking to your car keys.
Dorothy Rosby is the author of three books of humorous essays including “Alexa’s a Spy and Other Things to Be Ticked off About, Humorous Essays on the Hassles of Our Time.” Contact [email protected]