I once lied to get a free umbrella from the Lost and Found collection at a library.

I was living in Pittsburgh and was spending a lot of time in the library at the university I attended. One day, as I was getting ready to leave the library, I noticed that it was pouring rain. Often in Pittsburgh it will suddenly start raining very hard and if you don't have an umbrella, you'll get soaked instantly. I had to walk across campus and I didn't feel like spending the rest of the day in damp clothing so I quickly hatched a plan.

I went to the information desk at the library and asked, "Do you have a Lost and Found? I lost my umbrella here and wanted to see if anyone has turned it in." The clerk confirmed that they had a collection of lost items and asked me to describe my umbrella. I generically described a short black umbrella of the most common variety manufactured. The clerk implied that they had a number of umbrellas (probably at least five that matched my description). He asked if I could provide some additional descriptive details. I obligingly told him that the umbrella had a small black plastic handle and that there was a release button in the middle of the handle. The clerk was still not quite content. I continued, explaining that the handle had grooves in it for your fingers and a nylon wrist strap dangling from the end. With this, the clerk produced an umbrella just like the one I had described. "Yes!" I responded. "That's it. That's my umbrella. Thank you." I took the umbrella and left - probably with a big grin on my face.

I am almost positive that the clerk knew I was lying, given the obviously nasty weather that was happening right when I approached the counter. But I also remembered that I really did leave an umbrella in that library a few months before. Though I didn't care enough to return for it at the time, I decided the library still owed me someone's umbrella so I didn't feel the slightest bit guilty for lying to get one.


- Marc Fischer