Today’s prompt: imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings and describe a day in which you came across something peculiar. Time to start right now.

Back in the dream time, as a young bloke gaining the necessary skills to be a success in my chosen profession, the powers that be believed in starting us at the bottom. That’s why all of us beginners knew that toilet cleaning would be our first task on arriving at work.

You were lucky indeed if your found a pair of rubber gloves or even a loo that hadn’t been occupied by blokes with intestinal troubles.

I must have been an effective operator because I was soon tasked with an ‘exciting’ job.

Sifting through what was known as ‘miscellaneous property’ became my new task. Sorting through the mounds of ‘stuff’ was hardly mind boggling. However, finding clues to owners became an intriguing exercise.

Wallets provided few challenges as most contained owner particulars of some kind.

However, one morning when I opened the ‘miscellaneous property’ drawer I found a new and unexpected item. There in all its splendour was a full upper denture, complete with a glistening front gold tooth.

Its only extra was a stick on tag indicating it had been found, all alone, in the early hours of that morning at our building’s front door.

Here was a golden opportunity to show the boss I could rise above the mundane work as the ‘miscellaneous property’ sifter and I entered into my clue discovery mode with enthusiasm.

I visited all the local shelters and hostels looking for the male owner of the teeth. No luck. Why a toothless man? No one at work had seen or heard of a toothless woman around our area. Toothless man, quite a few. Same story at the nearby public hospitals. Next I carted the teeth around to local dentists where no recognition of the teeth occurred.

I also visited the sole major dental hospital and saw the staff that create these dental prosthesis items.

No luck there anyway. So, what to do now?

The answer to that question was taken out of my hands by three occurrences.

Firstly, a poor old bloke, down on his luck turned up at the counter, minus his upper teeth. He’d been told at one of the hostels where his lost upper teeth could be. Sure enough, when I showed them to him, he whacked them immediately into his mouth, tag and all. I could see they were a great fit.

Then without saying a word, he scratched his name in the ‘miscellaneous property book’ against the toothy entry I’d shown to him and left in a rush.

Secondly, I was called up to see the boss who gave men a tongue lashing for wasting so much time on a set of false teeth. Then he laughed and told me he found it amusing and couldn’t wait to tell his mates at the Rotary Club.

Finally, he told me that I was being moved to the first floor where I would have to do real work.

He thought it was a punishment . Not by me though because it was the fulfilment of a dream.  All I wanted to do was carry out the work undertaken by the staff on the first floor.

The lessons I learned from my ‘miscellaneous property’ sifting, and particularly the teeth incident have stuck with me ever since. The teeth themselves were not important to me but their story was. Unfortunately I never learned the story of the teeth, nor of their owner.

Since that poor old bloke claimed his missing teeth, I’ve always had a soft spot for individuals who seem to be down on their luck, for whatever reason.

We all start out with dreams and aspirations. Some of us are lucky and live the dream. For some though, things go sour.

If only we knew their story.


  1. This had such a great flow, your narrative structure was really nice, as it meant the reader was so curious as to what would happen. You kept the suspense up, I could really imagine how you felt and your frustrations, and I think it is a hard life lesson you learnt, but at the same time it is amazing that you gained compassion, and it is so rare to find someone who will help others in need.

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