Monday, December 15, 2008

#15 Bad Idea: Lost & Found

Here, at last, is a different breed of bad idea. This is not a terrible comic book idea, a crappy movie premise, or just the cast-offs from the vile worm of my imagination. This is practical lifestyle advice for the economically squeezed. It’s also a really bad idea.

I call it Lost & Found shopping, and it’s pretty much what you think it is. Any downtown contains a number of hotels, malls, doctors’ offices, what have you. Lost & Found shopping consists of going into these places and asking for items that other people have left behind.

There are a few ways to go about this - some worse than others. The worst technique, I think, is to walk in and claim that your “uncle Steve” recently left a box full of random items behind the desk, and you’ve come to pick it up. Even though the contents of the box will definitely match your description, someone will eventually track down your uncle Steve, who never liked you and will relish the chance to blow your story out of the water.

Second worst, and also second best, technique is called The Fake Mustache. The Fake Mustache demands a lot of chutzpah, and a little something that the Latin world calls huevos, which means mustaches.* Its execution is simple: approach the front desk of a hotel, say, and ask for your lost wallet/gloves/nachos. Remember to keep your request vague but convincing. If you’re successful on the first pass, you are said to be at Mustache Zero for the attempt.** If the item sought is not in the Lost & Found, or the clerk is suspicious, leave the area and come back a few minutes later in a “mustache,” which is any convincing disguise. Arrest or eviction from the premises is known in the trade as a Mustache Dozen.

The best technique is to walk in naked and covered and filth, screaming obscenities between sobs. Not only will you be showered with gifts, you may even get a job as the head of the Lost & Found department. Or maybe, if you’re walking into a financial institution, the board of directors will offer you the job of CEO. After all, a naked stinking lunatic can’t do much worse of a job than the recent crop of smooth-haired golfers.

*Lots of people think that huevos means ‘eggs’. This is ridiculous. What better symbol of confidence and courage can there be than a mustache? Eggs are generators of explosive chaos, and as such are better suited to be Spanish for 'Donald Duck' AND NOTHING ELSE. Besides, mustaches, unlike eggs, are never tasty.

**There are two kinds of Mustache Counts: Incidental and Cumulative. The incidental count is the number of passes per attempt; the cumulative count is averaged out over at least ten attempts.


Sparkliesunshine said...

Yup, this is definitely going on my Must Accomplish list for my life. THANK YOU!

margie said...

for years, a co worker and i would go into the oc transpo lost and found, to get an umbrella. same idea but this would always work. there were so many umbrellas needing homes.

palinode said...

sparklie - You're welcome. Please let me know where your mustache count stands.

margie - So my bad idea is actually not so bad an idea after all? Hmmm. Don't tell nobody.

Disgraced Media Baron said...

Try going to lost and found clerks and ask them what they've lost. Refuse to leave until they answer. Weeks later, stash ten duplicates of whatever item it was that they lost around the foyer, public entranceway, what have you, of their place of work. Then another month later, come back and say that you lost said item, and inquire if anyone has turned it in.

Maybe wear a Buster Brown sailor's suit while you're doing it.

Thomas said...

walk in naked and covered and filth, screaming obscenities between sobs.

All this time I've been doing that for the pure joy of it. I didn't know that there could be a material reward.

Chris said...

My director says that you're not technically naked when you're sporting a mustache. Some contract thing.

Bruce said...

There is some truth to this. Recently at the YMCA, I returned to find that the lock was no longer on my locker, but the contents had been untounched. Realizing that I had probably 'forgotten' to lock in the day before, I went to the front desk and asked if anyone had turned in a lock. The petite receptionist behind the counter hefted a large tub onto the counter that contained about 40 locks. "Help Yourself" laughed.

If I had gone up and asked for the 'basket-o-locks' that my buddy had left the day before, she would have probably given me all of them.

Anonymous said...

Please let me begin by saying mustache in Spanish is "bigote" which in English has its own connotations. "Machismo" would have been the word you may have preferred to "huevos."

Secondly, In Spanish one would say, "¿tener Cojones?" "Huevos," if ever used, is used as censored made-for-television version of Cojones, similar to the American expression "nuts".

Given the success of 'Ghostworld' and 'Fight Club' I do think the idea of the Lost & found shopper could make quite a nice story. Whether the tale chronicles a single Lost and Found shopper or clique or cult of them (as a group I would call them a "lift") I think it has potential. It could be merely a reflection of the disenfranchised quietly protesting the suburban commodification of Western living. Or the introductory act of lost and found shopping could be that single red shoe that draws the main character unwittingly into a world of Mulholland drive-esque intrigue.
Or most obviously the items could draw our "lost and found shopping" heroine to the true owner of the item and her heart.

palinode said...

dmbaron - That is an elegant technique which may be sheer genius in its simplicity. If a Buster Brown sailor suit is unavailable, you may wish to consider a nice pair of Osh Kosh B'Goshes.

thomas - The naked and the filthy don't generally profit on their appearance because it's hard to sell your abjection when you show up in a Ferrari.

palinode said...

Chris - I suppose it would depend on how long the mustache is.

Bruce - It's too bad you didn't go for the 'basket o' locks' gambit. You would have been at Mustache Zero with additional points for getting the container along with the contained. That's like Mustache -5, which is nearly as low as the Fed's interest rate. Zing!

palinode said...

Anonymous - See, you're talking about the kind of Spanish that people learn and speak and write. I'm using a particular dialect that may have been brought to me in my sleep, incised on stone tablets, by some Basque on crack. This new Spanish which has been handed down to me consists of one word, which is huevos. And huevos means mustache. But you're right, cojones would have been better.