Bertha and Al were in the kitchen patiently waiting for the pizza delivery. Their grandchildren were coming later, although Al kept elbowing Bertha. “Any second now they’ll be charging in the side door.”
Bertha looked at him and clucked, “No, not any second; Betty said not before six and it’s only 5:30 now. The pizza boy will be here any second even though I told you to ask for a 6 o’clock delivery.”
Al shook his head. “No good. Everyone wants their pizza at 6. Got to use your moxie; order it early. It’s not as if it can run away once we pop it in the oven. And you know the kids like to play ‘Guess what we’re having for supper.’”
“Al, every Saturday they’ve been here for a sleepover we’ve ordered pizza. They’re not dumb!”
“Humph. Not if they take after me!” Al got up and looked out the kitchen window hoping to see their daughter’s car in the driveway.
They had ordered two pies: one pepperoni-anchovy, the other with only vegetables and extra mushrooms for the kids.
He returned to the table and looked away, still in his private hissy.
Bertha leaned over and said in a stage whisper, “Al!”
Al either didn’t hear or was pretending not to, so she repeated herself in a louder voice, “AL! Are you listening?”
He turned and faced her. “Be pretty hard not to.”
“Well, I wanted to tell you how glad I am you discovered the best way to make sure we had more than one slice of the pie was to ruin it for the kids. I know it doesn’t seem fair since they claim they’re vegan ‘except for pizza,’ but having ours with pepperoni and anchovies insures they keep their hands off.”
He laughed. “You hope! I’ve seen the two of them eyeing a slice of the pepperoni and whispering about flicking off the sausage.”
“Al, how could you have heard them whispering? You can only hear me when I shout.”
“Oh don’t worry, I have my secret ways.”
“I’m sure. And what did you say is missing this week? Is that a secret too?”
“And where is it?”
“If I knew, it wouldn’t be missing, would it?”
Bertha heard Betty pull into the driveway. “They’re here.”
~ * ~
During the past year both Al and Bertha had become ever more forgetful: misplacing keys, glasses, and even their cat. Their daughter Betty told them they needed to move into an assisted living home. Al laughed. “It’s not as if Bertha’s glasses are going to be afraid of nursey and stay put in the bowl on the kitchen table!”
Bertha cackled. “Ha, ha. And your car keys aren’t going to tremble themselves into the box by the kitchen phone from the refrigerator where you always leave them next to the OJ.”
“First place I look.”
Betty had to give up.
~ * ~
One time her parents locked themselves out, forgot that there was a spare key under the downspout in the backyard, and called her at work. She was in the middle of an important meeting and resented being called out. At supper she complained to her husband. “I don’t know what to do, Lou. They’re so stubborn.”
The twins, Billie and Robert, heard. Bobby volunteered, “We’re learning organizational techniques in our fourth-grade social studies class. It’s also supposed to help you find things. We’re required to implement a plan at home and write up a report. Maybe we can think of some way to help Grandma and Grandpa.”
Billie added, “I’ve organized my closet sorting by garment type, then by color, and finally by weight. The colors follow the rainbow: ROY G. BIV. We learned about the spectrum in science class. But Bobbie is a pig and got a D.”
“So what? Only girls waste their time putting clothes away.”
“Well, boys are brats and you got a D since you’re still a D-D and don’t put your clothes away. You just throw them in a pile and they slide onto my side of the closet. It’s a stupid random order.”
“Is not – the clean things are on top!”
Betty had enough of their bickering and was happy that she and Lou weren’t fighting all the time.
“Billie-Bob, that’s enough fighting. You’re beginning to sound like your grandparents.” She was frustrated. “You go to your room and see if you can think of some way to help them get better organized so they’re not misplacing things constantly.”
Billie and Bob loved their grandparents. Lou complained that they were spoiled rotten, to which Betty countered, “That’s what grandparents are for.”
~ * ~
By the end of the week the twins thought they were onto a good idea. They were scheduled for a sleepover at their grandparents that Saturday night. Billie made Bobby promise to keep their idea a secret.
“Bobby, good projects require a beta test. We’ll bring our charts and see what Grandma and Grandpa have to say.”
He made a face. “I’m no dummy, I know that. But did you remember how the teacher said all successful projects need a buy-in by all the concerned parties so that it’s win-win for everyone?”
She stuck her nose up and put her hands on her hips. “Of course. I high-lighted it in my notebook!”
~ * ~
Betty brought the twins to her parents Saturday afternoon. She had called Friday saying the kids wanted to come early. “They said they needed your help with a homework assignment.” She couldn’t figure out why, but since it gave her a few extra hours on her own, she didn’t ask. She dropped them off at 2.
As soon as Betty backed out of the driveway, Grandma Bertha winked and said, “I bet you’re both starved for some ice cream. Why don’t you put your stuff in the guest room and get Grandpa on your way back? He’s probably fallen asleep watching that stupid football game in the den. A dish of chocolate ice cream will make him like new. The kids ran off and two seconds later she heard their bags being dumped at the bottom of the stairs and cries of “Grandpa, Grandpa – wake up! Ice cream time in the city…no, really, it’s in the kitchen!”
~ * ~
Billie leaned the charts against the back of the kitchen chair and sat down. Bertha noticed but didn’t say a word. Her granddaughter would explain when she was ready and not a minute before. She was surprised; the twins weren’t bickering and she was sure it had nothing to do with the ice cream. Al was oblivious, just going on about the Packers. As soon as he had finished his ice cream, he rushed back to the den and the football game. The charts remained in place.
~ * ~
They finished the pizza and salad. It was Billie’s turn to clear and Bobby’s to help with the dishes. He came back flapping a dishtowel and announced in a loud voice, “TA-TA! B & B Organizers, LTD proudly presents Treasure Hunt 101 for Grandparents. No longer when things go lost will they stay lost. A complete methobiology is offered free with this product. Billie, did I get that right?”
Billie directed her grandparents to sit on one side of the table as she moved to the head. “Not quite, Bobby. It’s methodology, a very important word as you will see. Bobby, the first chart, if you please.”
There was a half baguette in a long white sleeve that Billie picked up from the counter. Using it as a pointer, she tapped the first chart.
“Chart One – Historical Data is exactly that. By listing the objects commonly misplaced and where they were found you will be able to shorten future searches.”
Bobby joked, “You will also notice that they are always found in the last place that you looked. Eventually, when the chart’s full we can move it to the side of the refrigerator or on the freezer door at the bottom. We don’t anticipate that more than two of these charts will be necessary.”
The chart is reproduced below:
|Library books||coat closet, refrig, under bed, behind couch, under TP|
|Dog’s leash||coat closet, top of refrig, coat closet|
|Instant Coffee||bathroom medical cabinet|
|Sandals||book case in den|
|Keys||refrig, under pillow, in boots, coat pocket|
|Eyeglasses||refrig, forehead, under pillow, bookshelf|
|Cell phone||bathroom, refrigerator, under the car seat|
Billie explained that she and Bobby had worked hard to recall both the items lost and where they were found. “This list is not exhaustive.”
Bobby interrupted, “I came up with that word – exhaustive.”
Billie glared at him and continued. “It easy to see from this chart that in the future when you misplace anything your search should start in the refrigerator. Additional data may indicate other hotspots. We can add them to the chart after I finish this brief introduction. Bobby, Chart Two, if you please.”
Chart Two – Still Missing
|Item||Date Lost||Date Found||Location|
|Grandma’s wire glasses||2/3/20|
|Grandpa’s loafers||August 2019|
|Grandpa’s house keys||2/12/20|
“This chart is to help us keep our eyes on the target. You may have already found the item only to misplace it later. We recommend leaving the item on the list for at least two weeks after it is found.” Billie noticed that Grandma Bertha swallowed.
“Grandma, do you want to say anything?”
“I threw out those loafers. They were falling apart and I got tired of hearing the soles flapping every time he got up to go to the bathroom. Besides, Grandpa could trip and break a hip.”
Grandpa muttered, “Not fair!”
Billie sat down and Bobby took the pointer. Sliding the baguette out, he broke off a piece and started chewing. “Good bread.”
He stood up and went to the head of the table. “Needless to say, this is just a start on the problem. Any questions?”
Their grandparents smiled and applauded. “No.”
Bobby bowed. “Thank you. Now Billie and I came up with a plan that is guaranteed to save you from the ‘Darn, where is it this time?’ gremlins. You can employ the bounty hunters from B & B Organizers, LTD, to locate missing items, old loafers excepted. The fees are based on a sliding scale determined by the size of the item as well as the number of weeks missing. We thought $1 per item per week missing is a fair price to pay for peace of mind – payable upon finding. Think of it as a treasure hunt for your priceless items that have gone missing. To cut down on your expenses you should tell Mom we need to visit you every Saturday afternoon. Is it a deal?”
Al held up his hand. “I think we need to discuss this in private. Maybe you can go into the den. This way we can study the charts.”
“Come on, Bobby, let’s give them a chance to think.”
Billie closed the door and, as they left the kitchen, angrily told Bobby that she thought his bit about a treasure hunt was over the top. He shrugged and said, “I don’t know, I kind of liked it.”
Once the door was closed, Bertha started to laugh. Al grinned and said, “Those kids aren’t dumb. Sounds like a win-win deal to me. Worse case, I can always drop my keys in a boot so they have something to look for.”
“Al, really. Can you remember the last time we had nothing missing? I can’t. You think Betty will go along with this?”
“Not if we tell her about their scheme. I suggest we hide the charts. We can remind Betty we won’t be here forever and in a couple of years the kids will be going off to college. Yeah, I think it’s a good idea to have them over once a week.”
Bertha concurred. “And this way if we lose something during the week, we don’t have to go ballistic looking for it. Al, why don’t you get the kids, tell them there’re cookies for dessert to celebrate the first customer of B & B Organizers, LTD.”
The cookies were waiting on the kitchen table when Al returned. They all formally shook hands on the agreement.
Grandpa Al, always trying to have the last word, remarked in an off-hand manner, “Of course, when B & B Organizers, LTD, is here in their professional capacity they will have to pay for their own pizzas.
Billie and Bobby started to protest until Grandma Bertha assured them. “Don’t worry, Grandpa is only joking.”