Life Skills: Find your lost stuff

    Life Skills is a new blog at North by Northwestern where we teach you all the tricks of the trade to surviving life at Northwestern. 

    It seems like this time of year, everything is getting lost. Do the gusts of winter wind blow away all of our belongings? Are small elves snagging winter coats, favorite hats, keys, wallets, IDs and our dignity to store in their little elf lairs? We may never know what causes the lost belonging epidemic, but we can take action to try to recover from it.

    Step One: Post a desperate plea on Facebook

    Though posting in your class facebook page can feel like shouting into the void, this method can work. A truly effective lost item Facebook post has a few key features.

    First, a specific location of where you lost your item will give you a higher chance of success (the “ground floor of Norris,” for example, sounds better than writing “somewhere on south campus”).

    Second, a picture of the item will help your potential Facebook-finder visualize your lost stuff and potentially spot a match on campus. A personal picture is best, but absent that, find a similar image online.

    Finally, add a personal plea, funny anecdote or even a reward to draw attention and empathy to your post.

    Though my post had a picture, it didn’t specify a location and had no personal plea. No surprise that my water bottle is still lost.

    Step Two: Retrace your steps

    This is the most immediate step you must take after realizing your item is missing. The faster you act, the more likely your glove will still be on the sidewalk of Sheridan or your keys still under your seat in discussion section. If you’re not sure which building or area your lost and beloved possession is in, go to them ALL. It’s always worth the extra exercise to be reunited with your stuff.

    Step Three: Check the lost and found & ask for help

    It’s easy to forget that you are not the only person on campus who has slippery fingers, which is why there are whole areas devoted to found items – appropriately called "lost and founds." Tech L268 serves as the lost and found for Tech and the surrounding areas. The Norris Help Desk is the lost and found for that building, and most dining halls have areas where they set left-behind belongings. Even better, Norris is open from 8-12 a.m. most days, and the library is open until 3 a.m. during the week, so even if you take an L late at night, you still have a shot! When in doubt, do a quick Google search for the building's hours and hurry over to check and ask around. Whether it’s your dorm security guard or a dining hall employee swiping you in, people will be happy to let you know if anything has been turned in or spotted.

    Step Four: Accept defeat

    Despite all these efforts, sometimes you just have to realize your stuff is gone forever. If you lost your Wildcard or key, you can get a temporary replacement before you have to pay the big bucks for a true replacement. Temporary keys/cards for room entry can be obtained at your neighborhood residence hall desk and are available for 24 hours a day. Beyond that, Wildcard replacements are $15-$25 at the Wildcard Office, and getting a new lock and key is $196. If you lost winter wear, try searching the Free & For Sale Facebook page for a discounted replacement. And no matter what, know your stuff will live on in your heart forever.

    BONUS STEP: Don’t lose your stuff in the first place

    The previous four steps have a limited level of success, so it might be best to avoid them all together.

    Get in the habit of checking your seat, pockets and bag every time you leave a room or building to make sure you have all your essentials. Write your name and phone number on your stuff (yes, like your mom did when you were in third grade) for a higher chance that it will find its way back to you. And, if you’re really prone to losing essential items like your keys and wallet, invest in a tracking device like Tile for a high tech solution to a very human problem.


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