At some point, we've all lost something we're certain we can't live without, be it car keys, a wedding ring or a four-legged friend. Our initial reaction is panic, followed by a frenzied search often resulting in brain-hurting frustration.
Look through any classified ad section or lost-and-found Web sites and you can feel the desperation. "I've been crying the whole time he's been gone,'' said one person who recently lost a pit bull. "I need him.'' Or this, from a woman who lost her silver iPod Nano: "I have turned my house upside down looking for it.''
While losing stuff is inevitable, here are a few ways to recover missing items and tips for avoiding a loss in the first place.
Post your lost item and scan for found items on Web sites such as thefoundbin.com and Craigslist, which offer free listings.
Consult your local newspaper, which runs lost-and-found notices in the classified ads. Many papers, including the St. Petersburg Times, offer free ads for finders. Lost ads cost by the line and can include photos.
Microchip your pet so if someone does find it and take it to a shelter, it will be scanned for identification purposes. The Humane Society of Tampa Bay offers microchip clinics the second Thursday of the month from 5 to 7 p.m. at 3607 N Armenia Ave in Tampa, with the next one being Sept. 11. The cost is $15. No reservations required.
Attach ID tags to your belongings. Tracer Tags sells tags for everything from cell phones to golf clubs. Anyone who finds a tagged item can contact the number or Web site on the tag, and the company will locate the owner and help make arrangements to have the item returned. They're $10 to $39 at tracertags.com.
Designate a special spot for items you're most likely to lose. Set aside a bowl or plate for your keys, wallet and other essential items and be consistent about putting them there. Keep your cell phone by its charger and use the vibrate and silence modes sparingly. That way, if you do lose your phone, you'll be able to call it to find it.
Scan an area for items before you leave, whether it be a hotel room or table at a restaurant. And if your purse turns up missing at a public place, check the bathroom. Thieves sometimes take the cash and ditch the rest in the trash.
Follow a routine so if you lose something, you'll be able retrace your steps.
Calm down. Don't search blindly. Think logically. There's no way your contact lenses are in the sugar bowl. Look in the most obvious places first. If nothing works, stop looking and give your brain a rest. Sometimes that can lead to instant recall.
Sources: WikiHow, moneyning.com, askmen.com, Hillsborough County Animal Services, Tracer Tags, Craigslist.