The cumbersome phrase "Long Island Rail Road lost and found" might conjure up images ripe for a Pixar animated short — a dank little broom closet filled with half-empty plastic bins that contain things like one-eyed rag dolls flashing saccharine needlepoint smiles, winning scratch tickets and wedding rings. Its door is manned by a guy named Mo who calls himself a "curator," and thriftily charges fifty cents for a peek at the goods. The LIRR lost and found at Penn Station is, as it turns out, nothing like that sad, animated movie at all — it's a place filled with the eclectic leavings of weary travelers who were just too frenzied to remember their wedding dress or brass knuckles, and its guardian is a helpful fellow named Henry Felton who has helped reunite quite a lot of distressed people with their discarded minutiae. Except umbrellas — nobody ever gets their umbrellas back.
DNAinfo New York recently took a gander at all the wonderful trinkets that LIRR passengers have left behind in recents weeks, things like: a wedding dress, a duffel bag stuff with eight thousand dolla dolla bills, a salad bowl, a Louis Vuitton bag, a Spider-Man bag, Spider-Man, a wedding ring set that would also make an excellent Pixar short, a bible with five thousand dolla dolla bills stuffed inside (probably Corinthians because modern people are imagination poor), a pair of Dorothy slippers, a whole box of puppies (not really), a whole box of kittnes (again, not really) and a melange box of puppies and kittens. Felton says that he doesn't always find fun stuff — sometimes he finds weapons, and once he even found a prosthetic limb. If nobody comes to claim their guns or prostheses a company in Alabama pays the MTA $35 per box (no matter the contents) and resells the indefinitely lost items to other people, creating a Brave Little Toaster situation among diasporic inanimate objects.
If, however, you have to lose something (unless that something is an umbrella, remember, because umbrellas=currency of the post-apocalyptic world), you could worse than to have it end up in the LIRR's lost and found. Since the railroad's lost and found's website has gone up, it has returned about 57 percent of lost items to their rightful owners, a success rate that Felton attributes largely to the fact that strangers will go to superhuman lengths to return items to a total stranger, because everyone secretly wants to be Nancy Drew. "Sometimes," Felton admits of his unsanctioned sleuthing tactics, "you got to get CSI on a bag." It may get messy, digging through someone else's stack of expired gym memberships, but that's just the kind of renegade lost and found steward Felton is.
People who reunite with their lost possessions are also super grateful, doling out hugs, flowers and free breakfast coupons like it's nobody's business. As for the obligatory question of who loses more shit, Felton offers his expert opinion thusly: "If you ask me, men lose more things than women. No doubt about it. We're dumb."
Image via Torian/Shutterstock.