The Scavengers

My brother and I somehow managed to strike a deal with our school: after school ended and all the students would be sent home, we would go through the lockers. We would spray down and clean each locker, and empty it of anything left within. We weren’t paid, but we could keep anything we found in the lockers.

This usually meant things like three-ring binders, notebooks, pencil cases, and other school supplies. Nice enough, as some of that stuff we would have needed to buy anyway for the next school year (the rest we saved, and to this day empty three-ring binders and spiral-bound notebooks form an important structural element of my parents’ house).

But sometimes, we got lucky.

Very, very lucky.

We would occasionally find very nice, expensive things. These would usually be in the Seniors’ lockers, as they would be the most likely to have checked out and to not worry about things such as their parents asking them “didn’t we buy that for you last year too?” or other inconvenient questions.

If there was a name on the things, or even any indication as to whose it might be, we made a good-faith effort to return anything expensive. But sometimes outrageously expensive things would be left with no forwarding address, and we would get to keep them.

I got a quite nice winter coat that way; it was certainly the nicest coat I owned at the time. Also, strangely, an extremely nice sleeping bag. This is still the sleeping bag I use when I go camping to this day. It’s way nicer than any sleeping bag I’d ever bought or been given.

By far the most important find of my scavenging career was a TI-82 graphing calculator. But that is a story in itself.

I still sometimes wonder about that sleeping bag. Did its original owner ever miss it? Or get in trouble for leaving such a nice, expensive sleeping bag behind?

I used that sleeping bag last year on a camping trip. I like to think it’s fulfilling its purpose better with me than it did with its previous owner. But I do still wonder sometimes.

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