Finders, Keepers?

I found a violin today.

In my daily walk around the neighborhood in search of wild Pokemon, I happened upon a violin case, sitting on a capped vent near my house. The case was pretty ordinary, and a cursory inspection revealed that there was, in fact, a violin inside. There was no one in sight.

Luckily, the case also had the name of the elementary school to which it belonged written on it in small letters with white paint. The first name and last initial of the student to whom it had been entrusted was added to a length of masking tape stuck to the wider end. I stood there for a moment, pondering: if I take it, the kid might come back and freak out that their violin is gone. On the other hand, if I left it there, someone might come along and steal it to pawn or sell on eBay. I decided to take it, immediately calling the school from my cell phone as I walked the hundred or so yards back home.

I got the school’s answering machine when I called: it was 3:50 PM, so probably everyone was gone for the day. I left a message with my home phone number, telling them my name, and that I had person X’s violin, and that it was safe. Could they please call me and let me know when someone would be in the building to take possession of the instrument? I expect I’ll get a call early tomorrow – earlier than I get up, anyway — from the school telling me how to return it to them. I further expect I’ll drop it off in the morning before work, or, at worst, just after lunch when my shift is over.

Growing up, my family was poor; we didn’t have the money to buy an instrument so I could be in band. Not learning how to play a musical instrument is one of my big regrets: I love music, and I hope that this person whose violin I found will eventually take as much joy in playing as I do in listening.

I also hope they’ll keep better track of their stuff from now on.

[Edited to add:] In an anticlimactic ending, I returned the violin to the school the next day. The person who received it from me in the office was cheerful and thanked me. When I warned her that I had no idea if anything bad had happened to it before I found it, she said she’d hand it over to the music teacher for an inspection.

3 thoughts on “Finders, Keepers?

  1. I’ve come across similar situations. One of the school football teams practice at Quann soccer field that I walk past daily on the way to the dog park. I have come across nice tennis shoes (red!) and a helmet among other things. I left the shoes but returned the helmet to the school. Always a dilemma. Keep in mind that it could be a case where someone stole the violin or took it as a prank and it may not be the fault of the musician at all. When I was in high school I returned to my desk one day to find that all my books were gone. We found them where someone had thrown them out the window. Some kids are just mean.

  2. You earned your Boy Scout badge for the day, Bill! Some little person will be very happy to have their instrument back and some parent will be thrilled not to have to pay a replacement fee!

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