The other day a two-year-old boy followed his mother around the store for 15 minutes or so. He had a camera held up to his eyes and took pictures the entire time with it. It rarely left his face. He literally was using it to both navigate and document his in-store experience. After they left I was very surprised to find the camera on the floor near the register. It came back to me that his mother had given him a book to hold and that he must have put the camera down thinking that it would stay there as at hand as if he had put it down on his living room floor.
It turned out to be an Olympus Trip 500, which you will rightly have assumed was a pre-digital model. It had no film in it, and its current retail value was somewhat dubious, but I fully expected to see them stream back in and claim it almost immediately. It suddenly occurred to me to take a picture of the camera before they came in.
Apart from the existential value of photographing the camera the whole incident made me think about all the unclaimed objects left behind by children at the store. We never throw them out. Why? Well, it seems rough enough to me to be abandoned. Do we really want to double down on them?
After it became clear that no frantic recovery effort for the camera was going to materialize I took it over to the top of the special order bookshelf where we keep some of the more notable left behinds. At this point, having grown positively thoughtful, I took a few of the camera’s new colleagues down too.
Here is a little bean bag Gecko with the promising name of “slayer.”
This is a darling hand knitted miniature toy book. Why is it still here? Is the universe truly naught but an engine of chaos?
Here is the strawberry hat we’ve had at the store for more than 15 years. At present it is being modeled by one of the store sheep. There was a five-year period, however, when the Farmington Moonlight Madness festival was renamed The Strawberry Festival, and before it was re-renamed The Summer Festival, that I wore it once a year showing both what a staunch supporter of the Strawberry Festival I was and making a complete ass of myself at the same time.
So what do other stores do with their left behinds?
My library had for a number of days a much loved-looking bunny dressed in a hand knitted chanel suit. I was hoping no one would claim her, but they did.
My childhood library had a rather unusual left behind — Rachel, a beautiful black cat. She and our librarian adopted one another. Rachel happily lived out her days being read to by small children and leaping into the laps of, sometimes unsuspecting, library patrons. You could always tell who the newcomers were. They were the ones too stunned to laugh. I sometimes think Rachel would lay in wait for them.