The only things certain in life, it’s been said, are death and taxes. We could also probably add lost and found to that list.
Every day, people leave things behind on the bus. Big things. Small things. Phones. Wallets. Backpacks. Bikes. License plates.
On a recent visit to Community Transit’s Lost and Found operation at the Lynnwood Transit Center’s RideStore
, there were indeed Washington state license plates in one of the bins. Turns out they were just souvenir tags.
Though Lost and Found is constant, it, like everything else, changed during the pandemic. With fewer people on the bus, there were fewer things lost. At the low point, collections were about 20 percent of pre-pandemic levels, says Ame Elliott, a sales and distribution specialist at the RideStore. But, she says, “It’s slowly starting to tick back up,” to around 30 percent.
As the magnitude of the pandemic became all too real last year, the RideStore closed at the end of March for about three weeks to allow for the installation of plexiglass barriers and the implementation of other safety measures. Staff were also reduced from four to three plus a supervisor. Currently, only three customers at a time (it was initially two) are allowed in the RideStore where, in addition to Lost and Found, riders can buy or reload their ORCA cards or get general assistance with Community Transit services.
But Lost and Found never closed. On the door there was a sign with a number to call to reunite customers with their belongings. “Lost and found kept going, as people were still losing things,” said Elliott.
During the closure, Lost and Found got a call. A woman had lost her backpack with needed diabetes medicine in it. RideStore Sales and Distribution Specialist Heather Douridas was able to track the backpack down, get it off the bus and meet the customer at the McCollum Park and Ride on her way home from work at 6:30 p.m. Health crisis averted.
While people kept losing things, the nature of the things found did change and reflected the struggles and challenges the region, and the nation, faced during the pandemic.
There were more bags of clothes and food, reflecting passengers’ unsheltered status, said Annmarie Gibson, also a sales and distribution specialist at the RideStore. She’s also noticed an uptick in journals found, as people seemingly try to document their lives amid a chaotic time.
As ridership picks up, the Lost and Found team expects more items to fill their bins, and they will be there, ready to reconnect customers with their belongings.
The RideStore is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call (425) 348-2350 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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