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September 5, 2015 / 21 Elul, 5775
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Looking Backwards, Literally!


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Over the years, the number of items that I was forever separated from because I mindlessly left them on buses or trains, or in public bathrooms, banks, stores, theaters, etc., would be enough to fill up a substantial Lost and Found storage room. And that only describes the items that were not returned.

I’m not including the stuff I left behind while visiting friends and relatives, or places that I could easily retrieve them from.   Like the shops and stores in my neighborhood. Not only do they know me and hold on to what I leave behind, but the cashiers who are physically agile and not too busy actually take the trouble to come running out of the store to tell me that I left my groceries, keys, cell phone, sunglasses or umbrella on the counter!  Once I had actually crossed the store’s threshold and was on the sidewalk balancing my bags of groceries when I realized I had left the baby in his stroller near the store window.

(For that reason alone it pays to shop at the Mom and Pop stores, even though their merchandise may cost a bit more than the huge retail outlets and discount stores.  The savings you accumulate by having the items you left behind handed back to you may supersede the bargains being offered.)

One can argue that forgetting something on a regular basis is a sign of advancing age and it’s time to for a neurological evaluation, but based on the number of young people who need to replace a lost smart phone (too bad it’s not smart enough to warn its owner that that they have become separated – or is there an app for that too?), I safely can say that losing “stuff” cuts across the generations.

Since it was annoying to have to replace the electronics and hats/glove/jackets and various sadly-missed items, I trained myself to get into the habit of looking behind me before I exit somewhere. Now, when I get up from my seat on public transportation or in a public place, I make it my business to turn around and look at the seat I just vacated to make sure anything I may have taken out of my purse, or set aside on the seat or put down on the floor was not left behind.

That action has paid off so many times.  I have turned around and seen an umbrella or gym bag, or a new purchase.  Not too long ago I saw my can’t-live-without-it cell phone occupying my vacant seat.  I had taken it out while retrieving my train ticket to give to the conductor and had absent-mindedly set it beside me, rather than putting it back into my purse. Even though it is an old-fashioned “dumb” phone, it is my means of communication.

But on a serious note, the most important reason to make it an automatic reflex to look behind you is because failing to do so can result in tragedy of the worst kind.  The death of a human being – especially a child.

Items are replaceable, children are not.  Everyone who drives a car, whether they currently have young children or not, should always look in the back seat before getting out. The reason I include non-parents as well as mothers and fathers is because there is the possibility that a grandparent, neighbor or friend, might do a parent a favor and drive their young child to where they are supposed to be, like play group or pre-school.

Since doing so is not a daily occurrence, not part of the driver’s routine, and she (or he) might be so pre-occupied with the dizzying details of her own day, that the tiny passenger is simply forgotten about.

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Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/on-our-own/looking-backwards-literally/2014/01/31/

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