A lost glove on Metro’s Red Line gets a lot of love


Felipe Tarraga, station manager at the Tenleytown Metro station, poses for a portrait. (John Kelly/The Washington Post)
John Kelly
Columnist January 29

Schuyler Griffin was determined to start off 2014 on the right foot, though perhaps the right hand is a better way to put it.

For two years, the District optician had owned a lovely pair of leather gloves. They were a Christmas gift from her mother, requested specifically because they were longer than a typical pair.

John Kelly writes "John Kelly's Washington," a daily look at Washington's less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section. View Archive

“There’s nothing I hate more than that two-inch gap from the end of the gloves to the beginning of the sleeves,” Schuyler said.

More than any other pair she owned, these gloves kept her hands warm, important in this winter of the polar vortex.

On. Jan. 2, Schuyler was riding the escalator out of the Tenleytown-AU Metro station when she patted her pockets for her gloves. The right one was missing. She stood at the top of the escalator, hoping that she had just dropped the glove on the treads and that it would soon be borne up to her upon the moving staircase.

No such luck.

How much trouble would you go to to find a lost glove? Aren’t lost gloves just expected casualties of this punishing season, like lost umbrellas after a sudden rain — cheap, abundant, easy to replace?

“I guess I was really determined not to lose that glove,” Schuyler said. “I’d managed to hang on to it for so long.”

She went back down the escalator to see the station manager, Felipe Tarraga. He was skeptical about her chances for success. A single lost glove in a big subway system?

“I was like, ‘You’re not gonna find it,’ ” said Felipe, who has worked for Metro for 14 years.

But Felipe let her through the turnstile to scour the platform. No glove.

What next, Schuyler wondered.

Felipe said that it might show up in Metro’s lost and found but that such a modest item would probably end up in the trash. After all, it wasn’t an iPhone or a wallet.

Schuyler was adamant. Wasn’t there anything else she could do? Well, Felipe said, she could look on the train she’d come in on when it passed back through Tenleytown. He called Metro Central Control to track the progress of the train as it traveled toward Shady Grove, then turned around.

For 45 minutes Schuyler waited. When the train arrived, she jumped on and lurched about as it headed toward Silver Spring, looking under every seat of the car she’d been in.

“I even asked a man who was sitting about where I thought I may have sat to look under him to see if he was sitting on it,” Schuyler said. “He looked, got up, looked around everywhere. No glove.”

Schuyler got out at the next stop and waited to head back to Tenleytown.

“The poor lady, she was committed,” Felipe said.

Schuyler thinks her efforts impressed Felipe. This had become something of a quest. He promised to keep looking for the errant glove.

Schuyler doesn’t ride the Red Line every day. Five days went by before she was back at Tenleytown. She went to the station manager’s booth. Just a minute, Felipe said. He crouched under his desk and emerged with something, proffering it as if it was an ermine stole or a vest made of golden chain mail.

It was the glove. He’d found it the very night it was lost, beside a trash can near the Farecard machines.

“Do you still have the other glove?” Felipe asked, worried that Schuyler had thrown the survivor away.

She did. And now the pair was reunited.

The moral of the story? Well, hold on to your gloves, obviously. But there’s something else, too. “Have faith in other people,” Schuyler said. “If you make a connection with somebody, they’ll be on your side and try to help you.”

What is your most impressive tale of getting back something you thought was lost forever? What lengths have you gone to be reunited with a possession?

Send your stories — with “Lost” in the subject line — to me at john.kelly@washpost.com.

The miracle of birth

Don’t lose your chance to see the nifty exhibit on the “birthing figure” at Dumbarton Oaks. The exhibit on the sculpture — the model for the golden idol in the first Indiana Jones movie — closes on March 2.

After my Jan. 14 article on the figure, I was reminded of the work that Smithsonian anthropologist Jane M. Walsh did on it. She was one of the first to question its authenticity when a scanning electron microscope revealed modern tool marks.

Dr. Walsh is accustomed to debunking things. Thanks to her work, we know that a crystal skull in the Smithsonian collection — of a sort also beloved by Dr. Jones — is also a modern fake.

For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.

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