Friday, March 9, 2007

MTA NYC Lost and Found (212-712-4500 or 4501)

I had the misfortune to have lost something on the train this week. It was a set of x-rays - of great value to me but totally useless to anyone else. It was in the process of trying to recover these films that I ran into the MTA chasm they call the Lost and Found. I write this to warn others what to expect if they should have to run that ghastly gauntlet.

The system works like this: Any items that are found on the transit system (both bus and subway) are picked up in a sweep and taken to the central lost and found office where they are logged into a computer database. Because of the sheer size of the system, this process takes up to one week. This means you have to wait seven days before you can make an inquiry about your lost item assuming, of course, that you can get through on the constantly busy telephone. The hours of inquiry are limited: 8 AM to 12 noon on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 11 AM to 6:30 PM on Thursday. The ever-so-helpful person who answers the phone gives out only as much information as you ask for and not a smidgeon more. No information will be volunteered. When I dared to ask for this individual's name, the chilly reply was, "Clerk #4". That was as friendly as the conversation got.

IF you are fortunate enough that 1) your item was found and returned to an MTA employee, 2) wasn't lost in the system sweep, 3) survived the one week ordeal before arriving at the central location, 4) was logged into the database, and 5) you actually get through on the telephone, you can claim and retrieve your item. At that time you will be given the location of the central office. In theory, at least, that is what should happen. I'll just wait and see how it pans out for me but I don't hold out too much hope.

For those of you who may have need of it, here is the telephone number: 212-712-4500 or -4501. Hours of inquiry are listed in the second paragraph above. If you find yourself in the same gloomy predicament as myself, may you have better luck that I. I am a lady-in-waiting... waiting to inquire about my x-rays. Wish me luck.

- Gitana

Monday, March 5, 2007

One man's trash...

For anyone who has discovered treasures in the trash or thought it was a shame how people could just throw out perfectly good and useful items, here's a site you may want to check into. is a not-for-profit site with a unique goal: helping individuals with possessions they no longer want or need find others who have a need for what they have. Essentially, a Freecycler (a member of the Freecycle community) with goods to give posts a description of their items on the site. Members who need those items contact the poster directly through the site's message generator. Similarly, individuals who have need of something post a request to the site and are contacted by members who have that item to offer.

The goal of this undertaking is to reduce landfills by recycling goods for free (hence the name Freecycle) The concept is simple, elegant and, here's the best part, it's all FREE! It is a requirement of membership in Freecycle that no money, goods or services be exchanged. Everything given must be done so with no strings attached.

I have been a member of FreeCycle for about a month. In that time, I have been able to find new homes for my children's old jigsaw puzzles, juvenile wallpaper trim, old computer equipment and cut glass chandelier chimneys. I have received 2 Palm Pilots, a cordless computer keyboard and mouse, a computer game, white laminate shelving complete with hardware, a printer, a load of scrapbooking supplies, a boxed set of yoga video tapes, 9 magazine holders, a box of quilting magazines, a computer power station. All for free, all fully functional. Most were used, some with very minor dings but others were still brand new in their packages. I found that people tended to give accurate descriptions of the goods and my experience included no misrepresentations.

The New York FreeCycle groups are divided by boroughs. The group you are eligible to join is based on your address. The other members of your group are relatively local to you, making it easier to arrange for pickup of goods. This is an unbelievable resource that is available to anyone with a computer. The list of things you can find is incredible and I urge you to take a peek at the site: Happy FreeCycling!