- One roll of duct tape
- One pair of scissors
- Two Rock Band drumsticks
- One plastic ruler
- One small flashlight
- Three willing kids
Monday, February 1, 2010
They say if you want to avoid losing an important item, you should immediately put it away in a safe place. Of course, if you are like me, you will immediately forget where your safe place is. I do have a personal safebox, which one might think would be the safest place to put important, valuable items. But I'm kind of lazy and often find myself defining "safe" as "any location within arms reach of where I am currently sitting or standing." I actually have, in a pinch, deemed the crevice between the sofa cushions an adequate-though-preferably-only-temporary safe place.
The list of safe places in my house has inevitably grown over time and now includes: the junk drawer in the kitchen, the junk drawer in the hallway table, the junk drawer in my bathroom, the junk drawer in my nightstand, and the junk drawers in my desk. Not many realize that there is a general hierarchy to my junk drawers. And the middle desk drawer is definitely the penultimate safe place, besides the actual safe. It's my go-to safe place. I spend a lot of time on my computer at the desk and I barely have to move my chair back to slide open the drawer and slip in a very important bill, receipt, note from school, cute drawing by one of the kids, Xmas card, pencil, change, hair elastic....
Alas, things had begun to disappear from my safest of safe places. I hesitated to call foul play. Some items, like my spa gift certificates, were indeed valuable and easily transferable. But would anyone really want to steal my frequent buyer card for hamster food? There's a big picture of a hamster on it - no one could mistake it for a Starbucks gift card.
Some people tell whimsical stories about a family of little people (no, not local Chinese!) live under the floorboards of old houses and "borrow" items from big people. Personally, I'd give more credit to the idea of cockroaches stealing my stuff. I wouldn't be surprised to see a group of them crawling by one night, all wearing my lost hair elastics like gang colors.
You may have seen my Facebook status update suggesting that Ellington might have accidentally shredded one of my spa certificates. Of course, that's just saying it's my fault. The placement of a paper shredder directly below a safe place for paper documents is really just tempting fate and 5 year old boys.
Then I lost another gift certificate over the weekend. This was for a 110 minute massage, manicure and pedicure and other services at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental Spa, and I was not willing to give it up for lost. So I spent hours going through every single safe place/junk drawer. I went through my lingerie drawer, because you never know. I tore my desk apart, metaphorically speaking.
And then I had an epiphany. My mistake was stopping with metaphors. I had to literally tear my desk apart. I pulled the side drawers out and dumped the contents on the ground. Nothing. Then I tried to pull the middle desk drawer out. But I couldn't. It was originally designed as a pullout keyboard tray, so I would have had to unscrew the drawer from the rails in order to pull it out. So I tossed all the contents onto the floor. Again, nothing.
In frustration, I stared at the empty drawer, peering uselessly into the empty darkness. And then I saw it. A little bit of light reflecting off a corner of piece of paper at the back of the drawer. No, behind the drawer. It turned out that the back of my keyboard tray was just half the height of the space for the drawer, and things had been pushed over the edge of the tray into the dark abyss, the heart of darkness. The back of my desk. My arm couldn't fit over the back edge of the keyboard tray. I could see everything, but just couldn't reach them.
By this time, all three kids were gathered in my room, enjoying the show. Watch Mommy lose it! She's made a crazy mess on the floor of her room and now she's cursing at her desk for no apparent reason. So I decided if they wanted entertainment, I'd give them an interactive episode of MacGyver. All it took was:
We fixed the duct tape to the ends of the Rock Band drumsticks and managed to stick them to the papers behind the drawer at the back of the desk. Then we dragged them close enough to swipe them out from under the drawer with the plastic ruler.
Within 10 minutes, we had retrieved, from the belly of the beast, countless receipts, takeout menus, plastic spoons(?), and over HK$11,700 (US$1500) worth of goods that included spa gift certificates (yes, including the one I falsely accused Ellington of shredding), filled hong baos, unused Webkinz tags, and a TAG Heuer watch that I hadn't even realized I had misplaced.
I'm hoping the kids' takeaway was not Mommy is an idiot. I remain positive and am sure that as they were running up the stairs to test the codes on those Webkinz tags, they were thinking, "Look at what we did with duct tape and a couple common household goods - I think I want to major in mechanical engineering when I grow up, or at least star in the remake of MacGyver!"