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Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 12.14.04
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

The Flashlight

There aren't too many gadgets that make me go "Ooooooh!"

As regular readers of this column will have surmised (the column entitled "The Boundtiful Bundt Cake" was a dead giveaway), I don't spend my Saturdays wandering with glazed eyes through hardware stores coveting power tools and plumbing accessories, although if I had more money, I might.

But when I came home a few weeks ago and found a heavy-duty Maglite flashlight, my first reaction was, "Ooooooh!"

This wasn't just the tiny Maglite you can hold in your mouth so you can have two hands free to defuse a bomb in the dark (hey, it could happen) but the big four D-cell-battery-mother. The kind you hold above your shoulder and say in a deep voice, "Excuse me, Ma'am, could you get out the car? There's a-gonna be some friskin'."

But, perhaps I've said too much.

The discovery happened on my birthday so I thought maybe it was a present that had escaped the gift-wrapping frenzy that had no doubt transpired prior to my coming home. I picked up the flashlight - the heft feeling mighty fine in my hand - flicked on the high-powered beam and turned it over. That's when I saw the logo of a local company emblazoned on the side.

Oh, well.

"Where'd this come from?" I asked.

"I found it in a puddle over by the video store," said Kate, my 10-year-old. "It was just lying there."

"I think this belongs to someone," I said. "Look, it's got the company name on it. It may have fallen off a truck or something."

"But it was in a puddle," Kate replied, as if that information alone negated all further facts.

"Well, it's an expensive flashlight. Someone may be looking for it. I'll take it to the shop tomorrow and see if anyone's reported it missing."

"And if no one does, can I keep it?"

We had this same conversation about the cat.

"Yeah, sure."

When you pry it from my cold dead hands, I thought.

The next day, I drove out to the shop.

"Does this belong to you guys?" I asked at reception.

The receptionist looked it over. I told her how my daughter had found it, emphasizing the "in a puddle" part. I added that it sure was a beautiful, expensive flashlight.

"It's ours all right," said the receptionist. "We give these away to some of our customers."

"You mean, some companies give away pens, you give away beautiful, expensive flashlights."

"That's right. Would you like to be a customer?" she laughed.

"I would now!" I laughed.

Please let me have it back, please let me have it back.

I waited for her to say, "If no one claims it, we'll give you a call," but she never did. It was around then that I wished I had brought Kate with me.

The blunt one in the family (she once said to a friend who happened to be somewhat gamey that day, "I smell you,") Kate simply would have smiled and piped up, "So if you just give them away, can I have it?"

Instead, when the receptionist said she'd hang onto the flashlight, I muttered something about, "Well, it's got your name on it so if someone threw their beautiful, expensive, really, really nice flashlight in a puddle, they might call here."

A giveaway! I thought I was doing a favour for the company and maybe some poor worker who was out forty bucks. I should have just put a "Found" classified in the local paper. In tiny print. With the wrong phone number. Stupid honesty!

I don't know if anyone claimed the flashlight. Maybe this column will do the trick. If you read this, and can identify the flashlight, it's at the shop that gave it to you. Identifying features: my fingerprints. And drool.

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