On Thursday the weather finally started to behave like late May (we’ve had weeks of rain). After dinner, we decided to go for a walk. Little did we know this walk would change the course of my Friday.
It was mild and quiet, with a few other people and dogs having the same idea as us. Then we spotted it leaning on the fence around the children’s playground: forlorn, nearly invisible in the dusk light, the Beanie Baby plush keychain stood out more than the grey and black case.
We called out and scanned the playground, but we knew it was futile: we hadn’t seen any kids the entire walk except for the smoking, littering, drinking teens further afield.
We opened up the case and all the pockets for clues or contact info, but all we had to go from was a colourful tag with a girl’s first name and set – not even the school’s name.
As I peered through the various saxaphone paraphenalia, I thought, “I swear, if after all this time, I contract Covid from some kid’s spitty reeds…”
There was nothing to do but take it home, hop on Google, and make some calls in the morning. It was well past 8:30pm at this point, so it was bedtime for poor Little Miss who was likely distraught and in a bit of trouble for losing her saxaphone.
It was the right thing to do, but there’s something inherently dodgy about taking something home that doesn’t belong to you. And, as we walked home, I realised that saxaphones are really bloody heavy.
I messaged our street’s community WhatsApp, asking if anyone recognised the music department’s logo on the nametag. The flat downstairs messaged up to make a suggestion. Next door chimed in agreement. I said thanks and I’d call the school in the morning.
Before 9am, I had a message from a neighbour down the road who said she knew who it belonged to. I called and left a message for the mum, who rang me back less than 10 minutes later. Never underestimate the power of the group WhatsApp.
Mum was very relieved that Little Miss’s instrument was safe. “You found it on the playground, didn’t you?” she said flatly, and we both laughed. I could hear a bit of chaos in the background and said I’d be happy to drop it off at the school on my lunch break to save her an errand. She said thank you and that it’s amazing, here, in London, people were so nice to help others and return items to strangers. Who knows, maybe Little Miss was destined to be the leader of a new wave jazz momement – we had to get that saxaphone back into her little hands!
Again, saxaphones are really bloody heavy, I thought as I made the trek to the school that afternoon. On the approach, a cheerful man with a colourful tie grinned at me and said, “Alto sax?” and pointed.
“Um, I think so?” I replied, holding it up and shrugging. “I found it on the common, just returning.”
“Ah, well,” he paused. “Thank you and good luck,” he waved and continued on his way. I wondered if that was the music teacher. And I liked that he wished me good luck – the hard work had already been done, but maybe it was a wish for life general, not specifically related to The Great Saxaphone Rescue Mission of May 2021.
The receptionist – an older woman with kind eyes and wearing a floral dress, exactly the kind of person you’d imagine on reception at a primary school – took the saxaphone. I mentioned Little Miss’s name and said I’d spoken with her mother. She repeated Little Miss’s name. Her eyes smiled under her mask. “I’m sure she’ll be very relieved it’s safe.”
Outside the school, I texted Little Miss’s mum to let her know the saxaphone was at the school, and for her to reassure Little Miss that her puppy keychain had a fun slumber party with her new best friend. I sent the photo.
It was a fun adventure, and a silly and sweet reminder of the power of community, kindness, and that if you keep your eyes open, you never know when you might find a small adventure to liven up your week. It also made me appreciate another layer to the complexity of having children – stuff. Kids come with, and generate, lots of stuff. And no matter how good or smart they might be, kids are little space cadets who live in the moment and who may, at any point, forget their saxaphone on the playground.