Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The truth about lost keys

In case you were wondering, No, the lost keys haven’t come back to me. I checked at the post office this afternoon, where I last had them. No luck at the PO Box end of the building -- the guys there suggested I look again at the Consumer Affairs office at the other end because if they were turned in down there, no one at this end would ever know. I had imagined that at a place like the city’s main post office there would be some kind of central lost and found, but no, there are several, and they don’t talk to each other. They don’t have full staff meetings in which someone holds up each item and asks “Does anyone know who might have lost these?” I’m thinking like a person living in a town of population 825, the like of which I’ve never even been in, so I don’t know where that idea comes from.

At the consumer affairs office a man brings me a small basket of keys, none of which are mine. I notice that every clump of keys in there has at least one ID item included on the key chain, and I point this out to the man. “You know, if someone called this number here, or here, or here, the owners could probably be traced pretty quickly.” He picks up some of the clumps and looks at them curiously. “Hm. You’re probably right,” he says. “No one has time, I guess. It’s up to the person to come check with us.”

I guess that would work, if the person knew precisely where they’d lost their keys, in which case they wouldn’t be lost, now would they? Then the man picks up several others, musing, “Some of these are post office box keys.” So I tell him that the guys at the other end had just told me that they could look up the serial numbers of any PO Box key and trace the box user. “Really?” he asks. Really. They just told me that.

Good grief, it would take exactly two minutes to execute the simple customer service act of making a phone call or looking up the key number. They could do one a day. Who wouldn’t WANT to do this? I can think of worse chores than calling somebody up to tell them their keys had been found. Guaranteed to make someone’s day. And wouldn’t the whole postal system gain a new fan club for every person who got their keys back? If something’s that easy, why not do it?

I guess if I don’t have my keys back by now it means they’re languishing in some similar place where some bonehead has thrown them into a plastic tray thinking I’m going to magically appear and ask if they’re there. Helloo? Not unless you call one of those numbers you see there on those little tags on the keychain. So I’m waiting for some unknown person to suddenly develop some brain cells.

Meanwhile, I know it's been a while since I brought you any visuals, and I know you love that. Last Friday I happened to be in the right place in the right time slot and I captured a rarely spotted Portland scene -- something that only happens about twice a year and only lasts for about three hours. Tomorrow I'll post several photos for your consumption. (Hint: it's a cyclist's DREAM come true.)


At 9:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who works in the downtown post office, I can tell you that keys are found all the time. The letter sorting machines bend the mail as that mail is sent to a specific pocket in the sortation process. If a key is inside, it often breaks out of the envelope and ends up laying in the machine. We find it. We set it out on the front of the machine. Somebody takes it. Who is it? Where does the key go? Nobody knows. I lost mine inside the plant one day, so I checked around. The mail handlers said, "Ask the supervisors." The supervisors didn't know. The lost and found, well, you've seen how they work. Oh yeah, this place something else.

At 9:59 AM, Blogger kate gawf said...

Wow...that's very enlightening, though disappointing. It's even worse than I thought. So this means that ALLL those little ID tags in the world that say "If you find these keys, just drop in any mailbox" are potentially completely worthless. Remind me not to ever put out any money for such an ID system.
Thank you SO MUCH for writing in. Now people can ditch their false sense of security and figure out some other way to identify their keys. If anyone has any ideas that really work, do write in.


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