The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday October 26th

Absent Minds Meet Kindness of Humanity

Last semester I studied abroad in England.

Within the first three days, I locked my keys in my room and had to call security to retrieve them, lost a claim ticket for my coat at a club and had to wait until everyone went home before they'd give me my coat, and left a sweater in a public restroom.

I've gotten it all back, though, which overwhelms me with people's kindness and my luck and convinces me that some higher power appreciates my permanent spaciness.

During Easter break, I visited my friend Linda in Sweden.

On my way to meet her, I got on the wrong train and didn't realize it until the conductor looked at my ticket and shook his head. He just smiled, wrote a note for me so I wouldn't have to buy another ticket and made a list of my train changes.

The next day, I left a purse carrying all of my tickets, money and identification on a train headed to Stockholm, about three hours north from her town.

Someone sent it back to the station, and within a half-hour of losing it, I had it back with the money, cards and tickets still inside.

Today, I was planning tell the area office I'd lost my keys and needed to have my room re-keyed.

Before I got a chance to go, the area office assistant called and said that someone had returned my keys to the housing office and that housing had found out the keys belonged to my room.

Two weeks ago, I came out of the shower in my bathrobe and realized that I'd locked myself out of my room.

Not only did one of my friends go to the area office for me, but the area office assistant walked over to my residence hall so that I could initial for the spare keys without having to walk to the area office half-dressed.

And, while I was waiting in the bathroom, a girl I didn't know let me wait in her room.

In recent memory, the only thing I've permanently lost has been a watch, which was sad but almost expected. After about six months, earrings and watches seem to get bored with me and seek out better company.

The best I can do is to buy cheap Wal-Mart varieties to ease the pain when I inevitably lose them. It just seems to be the way I am.

My mom is the same, maybe worse.

Once, she locked her car with her keys in the ignition. The car beeps when you do that, but she didn't know until a co-worker told her a few hours later. Another time, she was grocery shopping and saw a woman across the store. She thought the woman looked familiar and then finally realized it was her mother.

In many ways, though, I think her spaciness has helped her.

While other people notice how to drive to Harris Teeter or where they left their keys, my mom thinks about China's government system or an editorial in The Charlotte Observer she read that morning.

She might spend her life lost, but the time she spends thinking makes her a great social studies teacher and interesting person.

At any rate, every time my mom misplaces her piano books or forgets to shave one of her legs because she's thinking about something else, I no longer feel panicked when I see myself.

Being a ditz also lets me witness other people's kindness and honesty almost daily.

Strangers go out of their way to return purses, wallets, and keys, give you detailed directions and sometimes even personally lead you to your desired destination.

Almost without fail, my experiences losing belongings (or losing myself) end happily.

In small little ways, people I don't know take care of me and make me thankful.

I wish I could keep up with things or give a campus tour without asking directions.

But since I can't, I'm glad to have strangers and friends who accept my shortcomings, keep me together and let me think about other things.

Marian Crotty can be reached at

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