I went down to our Lost Property office in Stadium-Chinatown Station on Thursday morning, to see what they’ve collected for the Games period!
The first thing I saw was a big tub of mittens by the door, filled with single mittens! How sad! So do check with Lost Property if you lost a treasured Olympic mitt on transit—call 604-682-7887 or e-mail them.
(Do try the e-mail address, since the phone is often busy with all the calls they get. They do pay attention to the e-mails!)
For the Games period, Lost Property is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., 7 days a week (they’re usually only Monday to Friday). It’s currently a two to four day wait to get your items back, rather than the regular one-day wait — it’s because lost items are gathered from the depots and delivered by truck to the Lost Property office, and deliveries have to be made before 6 a.m. in downtown Vancouver right now.
Above are the wallets that are ready to be picked up by their owners. Nora, the Lost Property workleader, pulled this drawer open and said, “Look how honest Vancouver people are!” Which is very true, people of Vancouver :)
Wallets are kept for 30 days, but most stuff in the office is kept for a maximum of 14 days. What happens to the stuff if no one picks it up? Items like Care Cards and birth certificates are sent back to their government agencies, and the rest is donated to charity.
I arrived just as the regular shipment of items was being unpacked. This is the array of items collected by the folks at Vancouver Transit Centre. One box is filled by each depot and then locked, and Lost Property is the only one who has the key to unlock the boxes, to keep things safe.
On average they usually get about 4,000 items a month, and Nora said the volumes of stuff being dropped off haven’t really increased for the Olympic period. They are, however, getting a lot more shopping bags filled with souvenirs, lots of cameras (poor tourists!), and lots more people are coming into the office to ask for directions and help.
Also, for the Games period only, if Lost Property gets a passport turned in from the TransLink system, it will be passed along to Transit Police, and police will take the necessary steps to return it, including contacting the relevant consulate. They’ll hang onto the passport until the Olympics are over and then return it to the home country.
Nobody seems to be coming in distraught over lost stuff right now. “Tourists are very relaxed,” said Nora. “If they lose something, they don’t expect to get it back. But they are very very impressed when they do.”
“I had a guy from somewhere in the Middle East, he had bought Valentine gifts for his girlfriend at the Olympic store. They were here over the weekend and he was so happy on Monday when he got it back. He said, ‘She didn’t believe me when I said I bought her something!’ That was a very cute story.”
Nora also said that Lost Property has gone completely out of their way to return some things. A woman left her travel documents on a bus, and needed them to fly back to Portugal the next morning.
“I had one of the staff members go all the way to Gateway Station and wait for the delivery truck. [That’s where our main mailroom is located.] For security reasons, only we hold the key to open those boxes, so it was a real rush to get this lady’s travel documents and get it here before 5 o’clock. It was a coordination between the depot, communications centre, management, the mailroom, and us. So it was really a group effort to get her out of the country on time.”
All right, now it’s time for the fun part. What strange things have turned up in Lost Property so far? A pack of cigarettes is one!
You just won’t believe the number of crutches and canes in there. There are miracle healings on transit!
The “Oddballs” shelf had a stack of Millie Jackson records.
There was also a guitar and a car seat.
My absolute favourite is this VHS tape recording of Highlander! Although it seems someone may have taped over it with “The Professional.”
And just underneath the Highlander tape was my second favourite discovery: the VHS version of Back to Back, a Pulp-Fiction-inspired movie from 1996 starring Bobcat Goldthwait and Michael Rooker.
Here’s what was inside the box labeled “Medical items” at the office.
But okay, okay, those are just the oddballs! Umbrellas are the number one thing turned in on transit. This is just one shelf of many.
And there are a surprising number of skateboards in the office. I saw at least four.
That’s it for now… Nora said she would pass along any interesting stories as they came by!