There are two reasons FBI agent Clarice Starling went to serial killer Hannibal Lector in an attempt to learn more about serial killer “Buffalo Bill” in the 1991 romantic comedy “Silence of the Lambs.”
Reason #1: It was in the script.
And Reason #2: A serial killer knows how the mind of a serial killer works.
That being said, when my family loses something, or wants to know something about serial killers, they come to me. Why? Because there is no better person to find stuff that is missing than the person who is constantly losing stuff. And I’m an expert at losing stuff, which makes me a semi-expert at finding stuff. And since I’m so far ahead in expertise at losing stuff than anyone I know, that in turn makes me an actual expert at finding stuff compared to the regular, secular populace.
Case in point: Last month, I received a frantic phone call from my wife.
“I can’t find that disc with all of our family pictures on it. Have you seen it anywhere?”
I had not, I replied, then added: “Did you look where you saw it last?”
“Of course I did,” she retorted. “It’s not there. I’ve looked everywhere.”
This, I then realized, was a job for my special brand of expertise.
My first clue that this item could be found was in the “I’ve looked everywhere” phrase – often heard in my household, but never true. “Everywhere,” for instance, would have to include “everywhere,” which would include Zimbabwe, the Friendly Gus convenience store men’s bathroom in Dublin, Georgia, and in George Wendt’s pants – none of which had been searched to my knowledge.
My usual first step in finding an item is this: Losing it myself.
I don’t remember losing this particular disc, which meant that I either lost it and don’t remember losing it (which, statistically speaking, is the case only 97 percent of the time) or someone else in our household lost it (from my math, a statistical likelihood of 15 percent).
The second step in finding a misplaced item is to think – which is a step I usually skip.
Step #3 is to look in what I call “common areas” – places where you or your family place items you bring in your home, like your keys, or jackets, or mail, or bills. I usually place our keys or mail on the butcher block in the kitchen, jackets in the hall closet, and throw all bills in the trash. So I looked in those areas. A “common area” would also include any “junk drawers” or jars where you place change. Also look behind or under these areas, as some items may slip or be pushed into hiding. I scoured all these regions and found a disc – “The Best of Young MC” CD, which, astonishingly, only includes one song.
That wasn’t the disc I was looking for, so I found a CD player and played “Bust a Move,” then continued my search four minutes and 22 seconds later.
Step #4 is to look in areas where you usually place an item. For instance, if I was looking for a shirt, I would look in a closet or the dirty clothes hamper or the washing machine. In this case, I was looking for a disc – a compact disc with “Robbins Family Photos” written on it. Where do we keep discs?
A lightbulb then went off. “Hmm,” I thought to myself. “Guess I’m going to have to get the wiring on that lamp checked. Lightbulbs shouldn’t be going off like that willy-nilly.”
Moments later, while placing my recently-rediscovered “Best of Young MC” compact disc in the compact disc holder, where we keep all our compact discs, I noticed something familiar: A compact disc with “Robbins Family Photos” written on the outside of it.
“Hmm,” I thought to myself. “Where have I seen that before? I don’t recall. Oh, well.”
Then, my cell phone rang.
“Don’t worry about finding that disc for me, Len,” my wife said. “I’m just going to give up on it.”
Step #5: Find item through blind luck, taking full credit. Then write a newspaper column about it.
© Len Robbins 2012