Having spent a good part of my life living with people who tend to misplace things, I’ve noticed a general tendency whenever such an event occurs. Panic immediately set in. A person who has misplaced something panics in accordance with the importance of the item misplaced.
Here’s an example based in part on a true story: A friend calls asking if I’d like to go on a hike. I agree and he picks me up. We arrive at the parking area near the trail head, and we fling open the doors and trunk. We change shoes, stow valuables in the trunk, swap coats for rain jackets, grab backpacks, etc. When we’re ready, we close up the car and start hiking.
Along the hike, we pass an abandoned well. My friend pulls out some pocket change and we toss some dimes and nickels to the barely visible water below. OK, that part I made up, but stay with me.
We return to the car after a couple hours hiking. My friend is frantically patting himself down. He can’t find the keys! He freezes in his tracks and looks at me with wide eyes. “I must have dropped them in the well!” he says.
This is where I intervene. Once that panic sets in, a person who has misplaced something tends to lose it and instantly thinks of the worst possible place that lost item could be.
I calm my friend down and begin searching in the most obvious places first. We check pockets, slowly and deliberately, look in all backpack compartments, scan the car and the ground around the car. We continue this until we find the keys, which aren’t in the bottom of the well. Had my friend been alone, he would have climbed down into the bottom of that well and spent hours looking for keys that were still sticking out of the trunk lock.
One other detrimental habit of people who tend to misplace objects is that when they do start searching, they tend to base their searching technique on those they have seen on popular TV cop dramas. That is, they create a huge mess as they scatter papers, clothes, and drawer contents all over the house looking for their lost item. Not only do they create a mess, but they most likely lose something else in the process.
If you do misplace something, let the panic subside before starting your search. Start with the most obvious places first, even if you’re sure the item can’t be there. I’m amazed how often it is in the most obvious place. Second, make your search slow and deliberate. Keep places you’ve searched organized. It will likely increase your chances of finding your lost item, but even if it doesn’t, at least there won’t be an additional trail of destruction left behind.
Author Bio: Britt Parrott is the communications manager for an engineering firm in Portland, Oregon, by day and a screenwriter by night. He posts most of his nonsense at Perhapses.