John Howell’s Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Secret force makes lost objects invisible

There’s a principle of lost out there. I don’t have a name for it. I am not sure that it applies to anybody but me.

It goes something like this. When I misplace something — which is often — I cannot find it until I have loudly and sometimes embarrassingly announced my loss to the world.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

After the announcement I can then find whatever I am looking for in the place where it was supposed to be all along, right where I had overlooked it. But I really don’t overlook it. There are secret forces at work that make that lost object invisible until I have announced that I can’t find it to everyone within my sphere of hearing. Then it will magically appear.

After having become somewhat conditioned to the principle of lost, I adopted the following protocol when I lose something in this office. As soon as I find myself frustrated by searching, I announce my loss over the telephone intercom system so that everybody in the building can hear me. Only then can I see the object I am looking for. It may have been there hidden in plain view all along, but until I have made my announcement it was invisible.

Realizing late Friday afternoon that my vision was somewhat skewed, I removed my eyeglasses in an attempt to correct the problem with a lens cleaning. Instead, I found the left lens was gone, missing completely.

That was puzzling, because previously when a lens has fallen from the eyeglasses I felt it falling or heard a tinkling glass noise as it struck something on its way down.

I had felt nothing nor heard it. This worried me, because I could not think of how long I had been vaguely aware of my vision having been skewed. Still I knew that it had to be close by — either on my desk or under it. I looked. By that time of the afternoon, there was no point in making the intercom announcement because only Myra, Rupert and I were left in the building.

Myra looked. Rupert looked. I looked. No lens.

That night I called Rosemary in New Orleans and told her a couple of places she should look for my old glasses so that she could mail them to me the next day. I asked my mother to keep a watch at her house where I had passed through during that afternoon.

That’s all it took.

On Saturday morning I came back to the office, looked again on the floor under my desk and voila, there was thelens where it had been all along through searches by at least two people. But it had been invisible when we searched and only become visible after I had called my wife in New Orleans, put my mother on notice at Annie Glenn’s Bed and Breakfast, and thrown a search party with Rupert and Myra.

The lost principle had struck me again. Does it ever strike you?