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Now where the dickens did I put that parcel?

Joyce Walter reflects on purchases to be used at a later date
Reflective Moments by Joyce Walter

It has happened to all of us — putting an item away for safekeeping and then forgetting where the item was placed to remain safe.

There’s no sense denying this frustrating situation. It might happen more frequently to the mid-aged-elderly but those of a younger age simply don’t talk about it as much as the previously-mentioned demographic.

Despite my advancing elder years, I feel I have a fairly decent memory and that I know exactly where to put my hand on that birthday present we bought on sale a few months ago to be given to a friend on her birthday that’s coming up soon.

It is embarrassing to admit that I not only cannot remember where it is stored, but I’ll be darned if I can remember the identity of the gift. But I hopefully will know it if I ever see it again. Then will come the task of remembering for whom it was purchased, and why we ever thought it would be appreciated as a gift.

I’m not bragging but I have to admit that I’m normally fairly efficient at remembering where I placed items that Housemate wanted stored for a day in the future. Of course I always tell him the location so at least one of us will retain the general area of storage.

Seven years ago he came to me to complain that his cassette tape recorder no longer worked as efficiently as it had when purchased. Could I help him find a new one, he asked, and I agreed, not realizing that even then recorders were mostly out of style, they being replaced by recording mechanisms on one’s cellphone.

I checked local establishments and ones in other communities and could find nothing that met the specifications: push the red button to record, a black one to rewind, another black one to fast forward and so on. Simple.

I finally found such a device while online browsing, pointed it out to Housemate who ordered: “Buy two.” I did and they arrived in a few days, packaged carefully and waiting to be used to capture speeches and interviews for posterity.

One of the recorders went with Housemate and the other went into safekeeping, the location revealed to Housemate so I would have a reliable witness of the location.

Fast forward to last week when my disgruntled companion came upstairs to tell me his recorder wouldn’t work anymore, that it kept making rewinding sounds even though there was nothing to rewind.

“Get out the second one I bought you,” I offered as a solution, only to be advised that in Housemate’s recollection, the malfunctioning device was the second one of that shopping trip.

I didn’t think so, but commiserated even as I went through the data in my memory bank to come up with the location of the recorder. “I know I’ve seen it someplace,” I said to myself and occasionally out loud in his hearing.

I went to all the hiding spots that made sense to me, searching the shelves and drawers in his office and reluctantly began to believe that the second machine had already been put to good use.

We searched websites for places that might sell a replacement but only came across refurbished machines of the same brand, selling for several hundred dollars more than what I originally paid for two. I found a new recorder, of a brand that was new to both of us, but was considerably cheaper. I made the purchase with the click of a key.

Immediately after, I had an epiphany. I hobbled quickly into my treasure room, opened the bottom draw of the desk, and lo and behold, what did I see, but a lovely cassette tape recorder still in the undisturbed original packaging.

I carried it to Housemate’s office and made the presentation, proudly proclaiming,“ I knew it was put away somewhere.”

When the other recorder arrives, I will put it in that same desk drawer for safekeeping. I think I will tell several people the location in case we have to find it five or six years from now.

Joyce Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication. 


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