It’s Gotta Be On There Somewhere

Details blurred to protect the innocent.

Serial numbers stamped into pieces of equipment do not just disappear. They might be rusted over, or deliberately effaced for purposes best left unspoken, but they do not simply vanish between one day and the next.

Unless I’m involved.

A colleague and I were attempting to do inventory. We had a list of items and serial numbers. We had the items themselves, all with numbers marked into or on metal components that could not be removed without, oh, a welding torch or heavy saw. The numbers had all matched the last time anyone had done inventory. This is a good thing.

We set about checking the items to the list, sometimes with the assistance of a flashlight held at various angles. We’d gotten through about half of the objects when my associate said, “I don’t see a number.”

I joined him in inspecting the object. We checked the usual places, the unusual places, and even in places that should not have been stamped. No number. Oh great. “It has to have a number. I know it has a number,” I said. “It’s on the page.”

“Well, it’s not on this thing.” He set it aside and we moved to the next item in the row, which had a very prominent series of numbers all but glowing on it.

Ten minutes later, he’d gone to move something out of our way. I picked up the mystery item and glanced down. Plain as day, plain as vanilla, lo and behold, the numbers. All of them, stamped in plain sight on a flat place on the top of the item. “I found them.”

He hurried over. “Where?”

I pointed. He confirmed that this was the item, and those were the numbers, and we both shook our heads. “Maybe it is the different angle of light?” I offered.

“You looked, I looked, we looked there.” We both shrugged and shook our heads once more.

I think someone was messing with our minds. (Not that it takes much in my case.)


16 thoughts on “It’s Gotta Be On There Somewhere

  1. It was probably optical autogravure. You expected to see the numbers there, so they appeared! If you want to test that hypothesis, imagine a different number there, and see if it changes.

    (You may also have had oatmeal for breakfast, instead of Wheaties. After all, it’s a cereal number, no?)


  2. Awright, how does this sort of temporary jinx work, anyway?
    I tried to click the link from the main-page teaser, and got 404. I refreshed the main page, tried again, and got 404. (The link to yesterday’s post was in the same format, but worked.)
    I composed a post on my own blog speculating that the broken link was somehow related to the topic of your post.
    After that, I refreshed again… and the links came up in a different format, referencing posts by title instead of by serial number. And suddenly the links worked.
    “Drop some oil on an incense coal; sacrifice antifreeze.”

  3. I haven’t had that, or at least no recently enough for ready memory. However, there have been MANY times I’ve looked at a clock (which has a habit of stopping in cold weather…) and the second hand seems to be still more than one second but resumes – though clock is showing the right or close enough to right time.

    Logically, I am just looking at the clock at the start of its pause for a second. Except it keeps on happening and… well… it’s odd enough to be memorable.

  4. Oh, no, that sort of thing happens all the time. Well, maybe not all the time, but too often to ignore. In my family, it’s an effect centered around me. Things go missing, for a minute of for years, then turn up again when you least expect it. Sometimes where it was supposed to be, sometimes in a completely different and often odd location.

    Related – I always get deja vu twice. The first time to let me know that the situation will happen again. The second time to complete the loop. It’s… reassuring when the loop finally closes.

  5. *sympathy*

    We’ve turned the house upside down looking for an item, only to find it in the middle of a wide-open table in plain view, where everyone in the house already checked.

    More than one nasty fight has started with accusations of someone putting it there after the search started…..

  6. Gremlins must be involved, somehow.

    I read a nicely posited sci-fi story about a vanishing subway train pushed into higher dimensional space, caused by one too many line interconnections. Nice concept, well done, then mostly forgot it. Then, things did the vanish and reappear dance. Now, I wonder if that author was on to something.

    • Aha! That sounds familiar… like maybe I read it, long ago.
      So I looked up the presumably-related “A Habitrail Named Klein”, and that turns out to have been inspired by “A Subway named Möbius”, by A.J. Deutsch. Which I think I read, long ago, back when sabertoothed hamsters still roamed the tunnels.

      • “A Subway Named Mobius” sounds very familiar. Thanks for pulling that forward! I was starting on subway and some different words, and hadn’t searched on something obvious. It wasn’t like an entire subway train was gone; it was there, but somewhere else. Like TxRed’s serial number or a cat, it reappeared when and where it wanted to.

  7. My Dad was a pilot in WWII and Korea. (His helicopter pilot’s license serial number only had three digits.) Whenever anything out of the ordinary happened they would blame the problematic results on gremlins. After he retired, anthing along these lines was always blamed on “Daddy’s grounded gremlins”!

  8. Sigh… Yep, that was ‘interesting’ to put it mildly… And I even had glasses on… Grrrr…

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