*Climbs out of the Subte, puts hand in pocket, taps pocket, taps every part of body, looks around frantically, heart sinks*
Losing personal belongings is one of those frustrating things in life that crops up far too regularly.
No matter how many times you tell yourself that you will be “much more careful next time,” it only takes one second of carelessness and bye bye phone, wallet, rucksack, child (just kidding).
An inquiry into lost items found on the Subte has recently shown that documents, bags, boxes and headphones are among the objects most commonly handed into the lost and found office of Buenos Aires’ extensive underground system (hilariously called the guardería in Castellano, which literally translates to “the nursery” or “daycare center”) located in Chacarita (fittingly, also the location for one of the city’s grandest cemeteries. Chacarita: where things go to die.)
Half of these lost items — the majority of which are lost on the B line — make it back into the hands of the original owner. In the first eight months of this year, 105 objects were found on the B line alone.
I wonder what distracts people so much between Villa Urquiza and El Bajo.
Among the objects found in those sweltering underground cars that we all simultaneously love and hate were rucksacks (including one containing ARS$13,500), an orthopaedic boot, flight tickets, property title deeds, checks, walking sticks, cell phones, wallets, passports, medicines, legal documents, birth certificates and even a bicycle.
At least no urns containing a family member’s ashes were found, as was the case in London some years ago.
The impact of technology, especially the cell phone industry, has had an interesting impact on the state of lost and found items.
Ever since the cell phone industry went global, more and more of the million Subte users are leaving objects behind: with their faces glued to their screens, passengers forget to pick up their belongings when alighting the underground. These aren’t just trinkets either — objects of extreme sentimental and economic value are being swept up on an alarmingly regular basis.
And if your face is glued to something else and it is your phone that goes missing, the statistics show that, chances are, you aren’t getting it back.
If it isn’t a phone, however, you have a 50-50 chance of being reunited with your belongings — just listen to this little anecdote.
On September 11, we were brought a side-drum in a black case that had been left behind,” said Rocío González Toniolo, an employee at the Customer Care Center of the Subte. “The passenger that brought the object told us that he had found it the night before in one of the cars of the B line.” (It would be the B line, wouldn’t it.)
“At around midday, as we were browsing our social networks, we came across a post from somebody who had lost an object that was very similar to the one that had been handed in that day. So we managed to contact him by phone to work out if it was the same object. Finally, that afternoon, he got back in touch with us and, having asked him to describe the object he had lost, we were able to confirm that it was the very same side-drum. A few minutes later he arrived at the office and he took it away with him,” he continued.
“It’s the only model that exists in Argentina and I bought it with my first pay check,”
said Federico Mariluz, 25-year-old owner of mystery side-drum.
If 50 percent of losses on the Subte end with tear-jerking tales such as these, then seven people who work at the Lost Items Daycare Center (can we please call it that?) Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 8 PM are clearly doing a stellar job.
Just don’t drop your phone, and you may well get your personal belongings back.