If you go looking… you never know what you may find. That box by the side of the road may be empty. Or it may contain something totally unexpected.
This piece is based on a Quora question. Link on the last page.
1. My 98 year old grandmother just passed this past Christmas. As I was cleaning out her apartment, I came across a folded stack of notebook paper- it actually looked more like the paper torn out of a “Big Chief” tablet. On the outside was written her name in my grandfather’s handwriting.
As I opened it, I read the date – 1942. My grandparents had been married in 1938. My grandfather was in the Navy and on a ship in the Mediterranean in 1942. As I read the letter, the writing was in a very strange, detached voice.
It told her how lost she must feel and how she must take care of herself primarily and then take care of my father (born in 1939). It then went on to tell her that she should buy a house on the outskirts of a small town and watch out for those who would take advantage of her.
I then got to a part where he instructed her to use her own judgement as to whether or not she taught my father about him. At this point I was thinking he was divorcing her! I got mad (even though I knew they stayed married for 55 years.
As I read further, it finally dawned on me that this letter was his final instructions to her in the event he was killed in action. It was difficult to hold back the tears as I read that she should not waste resources in trying to bring his body home.
This letter that I had just finished reading was what he wanted to tell her – make sure that she could move on and give her hope and comfort.
2. A few years ago I was living in an apartment in Mountain View. During the housewarming party, someone noticed that there was an attic entrance in one of the hallways. We didn’t know about the attic before, but we decided it must be explored. So we grabbed some flashlights, pulled a chair over, climbed up and opened the attic. (continued…)
Once we got inside, we found tinfoil covering the walls, newspaper on the floor, a few buckets of potting soil, and a heat lamp. Clearly, one of the previous tenants had been growing marijuana up here!
A handful of us climbed up, and drank some beers while we looked around more. I picked up one of the newspapers and found a Peanuts comic from the 1970s. Then we noticed that everything up there was from the 70s as well, and nothing looked like it had been disturbed.
We had accidentally stumbled into a perfectly-preserved at-home marijuana grow operation from at least 30 years ago. It was like a small archaeological expedition in our own home!
3. I once found a dead red fox, hung by the neck from a fence post, with its mouth propped open and filled with seashells. To this day I dont know why.
4. When I was in my early twenties, a friend and I went for a walk in the woods. While we were walking we began to talk about the deeper meaning of the concepts of God and Satan. We talked and walked deep into the woods for maybe an hour when we came upon a tree that seemed somehow significant.
It had one trunk but quickly split into two full separate trees. Jammed into the “V” was a Zip-Lock freezer bag containing a notebook and a pencil. We took out the notebook, looked inside, and found that the pages were empty except for a single sentence on the first page: “God and Satan. To this day, I am still amazed.
5. On an 8th grade overnight field trip, the boys tried to crawl through the ceiling to get to our room. On their way, a big brick of weed fell out of the ceiling. Ever since then, I have thoroughly searched every hotel room I’ve ever stayed in. This has turned up all sorts of things, most recently a plastic baggie of joints in a vase in a suite in the Palace in San Francisco.
Susan Deluzain Barry
6. When I was a little girl, I was swimming off the coast of an island in the Caribbean. I was snorkelling in about ten feet of water, when a shiny object on the bottom caught my eye. (continued…)
I dove down to retrieve it. It was a gold coin that was on a piece of coral that had grown over it, at least enough to make it impossible to pry off with my fingers.
Believe me, I tried. And then my brother tried. We both spent quite a while diving and pulling.
After an hour or so (and bloody fingers) we decided to come back with a screwdriver to pry it off.
To our utter dismay we could not locate it again. Hours we searched, to no avail.
We later returned to our home island (Providenciales) and never had the chance to try again.
It probably remains to this day, unless a snorkeler with tools on them happened to stumble across it.
Tasha Cooper Poslaniec
7. One winter night I was walking with my college boyfriend down 57th street near the University of Chicago. It was quiet and snowing lightly. At the Lake Park Avenue intersection, we came across what I remember as a white ice cream truck, the side facing us completely covered in yellow post-it notes, each one fluttering slightly.
Approaching to take a closer look, we saw that each note had ‘I love you’ scrawled on it.
At the time, it felt like we’d stumbled onto something magical and nostalgic, and maybe somewhat meant for us. I took one of the notes and tucked it into a book; I may still have it on a shelf somewhere.
8. We were diving in Egypt, when I suddenly noticed an airtight bottle lying underwater, full of white powder. I put it in my pouch, brought it up with me and showed it to my friends.
Cut to the Egyptian-Israeli border crossing. I was next in line to have my bags checked by the Egyptian official and I ask my friend if he knows what happened to the white powder. He says- yeah, you found it, I put it in your pack.
I was already in line, couldn’t cut out without causing a commotion. Visions of ugly cell mates and prison meals had me sweating bullets. God knows what that powder was… (continued…)
Somehow I made it through the line without them finding the bottle.
A few months later I showed it to a medic friend and told him about the narrow shave I had. My friend tasted it and burst out laughing.
It was penicillin.
9. It was a dildo. Standing erect in the middle of my dining room table. And no, it was not mine.
I came home to my apartment one night after work, walked up the stairs and it was the first thing I saw. My eyes kind of scanned the room, noticing this fleshy penis on the table and I became a bit perplexed.
I entered a state of confusion as my brain seemed to register slowly that something was just not right about the scene. The second thing I noticed was broken glass on the floor and a hole punched through a panel of our front door.
We had been robbed.
After about an hour of my roommate’s arrival home, we realized that the robbers scoured our dressers, closets, and common areas. Apparently in the process, they found my roommate’s sex toy and thought it hilarious to display it on the dining room table.
We all thought it was pretty amusing, except for one of us. He grabbed it off the table and whisked it away.
10. In the early 00’s, about 2002 or so I think, I was hiking in the mountains of Idaho with some friends when we came across an old abandoned mine. The shaft itself was boarded up, but there was a house next to it that looked interesting. We proceeded to explore it.
About half of it was caved in, but it had been pretty large, with two stories. Against everyone’s protestations, I climbed some rickety stairs to investigate what was left of the top floor. I was rewarded! (continued…)
I was rewarded by the discovery of an unopened, completely sealed, and very old box of Froot Loops!
I am not exaggerating when I say this box was old. It had the old-style 2-dimensional Toucan Sam on it. It looked like the boxes I used to pour out of as a kid in the 70’s.
The cardboard itself was pretty washed out and kind of falling apart, but the liner inside was still sealed!
As we walked back to town, to my friends astonishment and (for some) disgust, I opened the package and munched on the cereal. It tasted perfectly fresh, as if I’d opened a bag I’d just bought at the supermarket.
11. Two years ago, I came home from work after a very routine day. Ho-hum, nothing special.
My son, then 6, saw it first: a medium sized fish tank, chilling on our front lawn, near the driveway.
As we walked closer, we found it to be inhabited by roughly 20 tadpoles.
Well, when in Rome…
We hung out with the baby frogs for a while, discussing this wonder of nature.
We left it outside, because it probably had an owner. By that evening, it was gone.
Strange giveth, and strange taketh away.
12. I was living in Shanghai in 2001 and walking back home from a restaurant one evening. My friend and I decided to take a route we don’t normally go to do a bit of exploring. (continued…)
So we approached a construction site – the dark, unfinished shell of a 12+ story building. As we walked past we could distinctly hear a Kylie Minogue song coming from somewhere in the unfinished building.
We thought it might be some workmen at first, but after discussing how rare western music is in Shanghai, and feeling in the mood for adventure, we thought we should at least investigate.
Security at the construction site was low, so we were easily able to enter the building. It was a bit scary walking up three flights of almost pitch black steps, but we finally arrived at the source of the music…
It was a fully decorated, music pumping, brightly lit roller-disco with around 150 people happily doing laps. Unfortunately we were unable to join in as the roller-skates they had available didn’t go up to our size! I loved living in Mainland China for the regular surprises that it would throw up.
13. When I was a small kid, around 5-6 yrs. old, I used to go to Austria for vacation (so it was in the 70ies). Sometimes we made some walks, and at one of these walks, I strolled through a wood near the road, while my parents stayed on the path.
Amongst the trees I found something like a stick, but not a usual one. I picked it up, hit some trees with it and came then back to my parents to show them my finding.
My father got very excited, but at the same time very calm and serious; he told me to lay down that stick immediately and that we should walk on then. And that he would call somebody in the next village.
It was a grenade from WWII with a wooden handle.