Do you notice things on the ground when you walk? Have you ever seen anything interesting, valuable or strange?
Did you ever keep something that you found on the street? Conversely, have you ever lost something that was important to you? Did anyone try to return it?
Look through the article’s photos of things people have lost on the street: Which is the most intriguing?
In “A Mitten, a Key, a Unicorn: Did You Drop Something?” Sara Barrett writes:
A lot of life in New York takes place on the street. We carry our crumpled laundry down the block to the dry cleaner; we push overloaded strollers to the playground; we grab a slice of pizza on the way to the subway after a long day at work.
Our backpacks and briefcases are weighted with laptops and water bottles, reading glasses, lipstick, a change of clothes for the gym. One hand (the other is always holding a phone) has to juggle, balance, point, clutch, smooth, zip. And that means we drop a lot of stuff.
Last winter on the way to work I noticed a child’s glove on the sidewalk, lying as if placed intentionally in the grid of cement squares. After that I began to notice other lost items. I liked the way the objects were framed by the crosswalk stripes, the cracked asphalt, the black dots of sidewalk gum, and I began to photograph them.
It’s surprising how quickly things appear and disappear. A large stuffed unicorn, on the curb near a yogurt store on Amsterdam Avenue in the late evening had been collected by the time I returned to shoot it in the morning. I saw a red book perfectly set against an orange traffic cone on my way to get a coffee and five minutes later I had the coffee but the book was gone. Doormen constantly sweep papers and cigarettes and other haphazardly discarded objects out of view.
Once, walking to the street from the subway, I heard shouting. “Your wallet! Your wallet! MISS! YOUR WALLET!” The young woman attached to earbuds acknowledged the exasperated good Samaritan — but only for a second and not long enough for a photo. She scooped up her wallet and returned it to her purse with the precision and efficiency of a shortstop making a double play.
Not long ago I was bent over photographing some French fries.
A friend happened to walk by and, after I explained what I was doing, told me about being outside of Whole Foods one Thanksgiving when a man was carrying out a large tray for what appeared to be a family dinner — turkey, stuffing, cranberry dressing, mashed potatoes, cornbread, brussels sprouts, pie, the works — and dropped it. Splat, on the ground, food everywhere. Now, that would have been a good photo.
Students, read the entire article, then tell us:
— What is the most memorable thing you have ever found? Did you try to return it, keep it or continue walking?
— What is the dearest thing you have ever lost? Tell us what it was and how you felt after you discovered it was lost?
— Have you ever tried to return something you found on the street? If so, why? Has anyone ever returned something you dropped or lost in public? How did that make you feel?
— Which photo is most interesting, intriguing or strangely beautiful? Tell us why? If you are inspired, write a short story or poem about one of the objects. Who dropped them? Why? How did they feel when they realized it was gone?
— The author writes, “The city’s streets can seem like an open-air lost and found.” What can we learn about humans — their behavior, their values, their lives — from what they lose?