Assignment Day Sixteen: Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar, or tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile. For inspiration, ponder the phrase “lost and found”.
Before I start: don’t you worry, dear followers – this one won’t be about soccer (again). Nor anything soccer related. 🙂
As some of you might know, I am currently job hunting. So when I stumbled over an ad for an interesting job, of course I applied, and was invited for a day of “trial working”.
The job ad was for an opening in the Lost and Found Office (LFO). And not any LFO, but the Lost and Found Office of the World (LFOW). Yes, you are reading that correctly. Since everything seems to centralize nowadays, I also wondered about that shortly, but thought ‘Why not?’. It is after all amazing what you can do and achieve in times of 24-hour-online shopping, friendships where you never ever actually physically meet that person you are friends with, and wormholes leading you through the space-time continuum (yes, I am a Trekkie and believe in that).
When I arrived for my one day trial period to see if I would be a fit, I quickly discovered that this office was amazing. And different from any other office you might find someplace around the world. It basically was like Gringotts. You know, the Goblin bank from Harry Potter? It looks kind of imposing, but average sized form the outside. But from the inside, it is an entire universe of its own, going on and on after you entered it, twisting underground passages continuing for miles and miles, leading to who knows where, and although you never seem to be more than one story under the surface of the earth, you must have to be because otherwise… it would be impossible. Unless you went through a door-shaped wormhole at some point, of course.
Every state, country or sometimes even region had its own division. In order to avoid boredom amongst the employees – which can happen if you are responsible for cataloguing a lot of lost stuff so that it might be re-found one day – they switched offices and responsibilities from time to time. If in February, you were the LFOO (Lost and Found Officer) for Maui, for example, in charge of lost flip flops, surfboards, and leis, you might be transferred to the Amazonian Jungle Division the next month, where you might end up taking account of poisoned arrowheads or little colorful pet frogs. For particularly wide areas, sometimes the job of LFOO would also be split into LO and FO (Lost Officer / Found Officer), since the separation of posts tremendously decreased paperwork and work load (in general).
Since it was only my trial day, I was placed under supervision of the LFO of Liechtenstein. It might be small, but people still lose a lot of stuff there, believe me. The LFS (=Lost and Found System) works a little bit like tube mail. You have several tubes in your office, most of them for lost objects coming to you for safekeeping until someone looks for them and they are ready to be found again. Some tubes, however, are for sending stuff back (but only when their owners really really look for them).
So, you know that feeling that when you lose something, it basically drops from the face off the earth, as if it was swallowed by it? That’s not only a feeling, that is how it really happens, let me tell you that know (but hush!, don’t tell that you have that form me, pretty please?!). Little wormholes open all the time, close themselves within seconds, and sometimes, they bring things along. These things end up in the tube mail system. Since they seem to remember where they are from (I think of it as an automatic GPS system), the lost items end up in the correct tube for the correct region they are from, and somehow they come with a little slip attached to them noting who lost it, when and where. I didn’t figure out yet how that works, and my LFO didn’t explain all the secrets to me on my trial day, obviously. At this point, I was already hooked and wanted to work there.
Once a lost item has reached its destination, in other words: your hands, you take it, enter the information coming along with it into the LFDB (Lost and Found Data Base), assign a unique item number, and then place it in a drawer of a cabinet (which only had two drawers, very bizarre). After having watched my LFO do this a few times, I was allowed to try it on my own (under close scrutiny, of course), and I think I passed the test (I saw a little nod there…). To my surprise, when I put the item in the drawer of the cabinet, the drawer was empty. I had seen all previous items disappear into that drawer…! How was that possible? Upon request, I didn’t get a real answer, but something along the lines of ‘This cabinet is more spacious than it seems to be.’ which led me to the conclusion that maybe the office itself wasn’t the only thing that continued for miles and miles behind doors that only seemed to lead to the next room. Maybe the cabinet stored the items someplace else entirely… on its own. I found it kind of creepy. But also REALLY fascinating. This made me want to get the job even more…
Anyway. Next task – returning items. If someone really really really looks for something, and it is of serious importance to that person to find the item again, you receive a little slip of paper through the “returning tube”. The slip of paper contains the item number, and that is all you need. You enter it into the LFDB, and next thing you know, it apparently appears in the other drawer of the cabinet that I hadn’t opened (and also not paid that much attention to) until that moment when my superior told me to do so. And there it was. Item #56A93-12. A delicate silver necklace with a tiny tooth on it as a pendant. Cute. And also very personal – how could someone have misplaced this? … On second thoughts, I also had misplaced things that were important to me… it happens, it’s only human. Maybe, while I was here, I could sneak a peek into the system… No chance, back to work. After entering the items code again into the system (another program though, not the one for cataloguing items, nor the one for retrieving them from the catacombs or whatever where they were probably stored) and placing it into an opening in the returning tube and closing the shutter, off it went. With lightning speed and a buzzing sound, it shot through the tube, out of the office, back to the world, to Liechtenstein and towards its owner. A green light high on the wall indicated that its owner had found it again. Happy ending.
These procedures still continued during my trial working day at the LFOW. After hours, my supervisor showed me kindly out and didn’t utter a word about when I would be informed if I got the job or not. Maybe he also didn’t know. But it was a most interesting day, that at least I can say.
I haven’t heard from them since. Maybe they misplaced my application and my contact details? Who knows…
The challenge and the original assignment can be found here: Writing 101 – Day Sixteen