In the 1980’s, when I was a boy, everywhere had a lost property box. The train station, the cinema, your school – if you lost something, give it half an hour and it would turn up in lost property.
This is in the days before identity theft, contactless credit cards, and widespread mistrust of anyone you’ve never met, so it’s tempting to conclude that we were all a much friendlier bunch back in those days. I happen to think it’s more to do the fact that we’ve all got better stuff now; we’re all carrying something worth nicking, and if we drop it in the street there’s no guarantee it will re-appear.
Things like institutional racism and Operation Yew Tree are proof enough that we weren’t all a friendlier bunch back then.
As a cyclist, I often wish my local bike shop had a lost property box. Based on all the stuff I’ve lost within a thirty-mile radius of my front door, it would be fantastically community spirited of us cyclists to collect anything we found ‘lost’ en route, and drop it off at our local shop.
I’ve stopped spending money on expensive shades because I’ve left at least three pairs in cafés. I’ve also ridden off with a pair hooked casually over my brake cable and never to be seen again, and there’s a pair somewhere on the slopes of the Col de Grosse Pierre in the Vosges Mountains in France. If they had all been Oakley’s (they weren’t), that right there is £700 worth of lost property (it isn’t).
As of last week, somewhere along the flat expanse between Pilling and Garstang here in Lancashire, lies my beloved Scicon super-small saddle bag, stuffed to bursting with two inner tubes, a couple of allen keys, and a set of tyre leavers. Admittedly that bag was far too small even to carry that tiny load, and the Velcro existed permanently on the point of failure, so you could argue I brought that one on myself.
Still, if you find it, pick it up and hand it in for me eh?
Other less valuable items lost out on the road by me include drinks bottles (dozens of ‘em), a thermal headband (just the one, and past it’s best – not much of a find), and my self-esteem (regularly, usually on the uphill bits).
I suppose that by clocking up hour after hour out on the open road the simple law of averages dictates that over the years you’re going to lose stuff. Unfortunately, if this idea of a humble lost property box at the local bike shop did catch on I can’t help thinking it would end up full of old drinks bottles, over-used headbands, and patched up inner tunes, and conspicuously light on Garmin’s, POC sunglasses, and Scicon saddle bags.