Every week someone comes into the store saying:

“Remember, I bought a hat from you recently? Well, I forgot it on the bus”, or sometimes it’s “at shul”. Not a few can’t recall at all where they lost their newly purchased hat. So, recently SherlockS decided to offer its SherlockS Members an important service: We’ll write your first and last name initials onto the inside sweatband of each hat you purchase. To personalize it, we’ll even take the time to write out the two initials by hand. Nice touch, right? Helpful. Considerate. And no downside. You would think.

10:00  “Found this in shul,” an elderly gentleman said as he walked into the store holding a Stetson Traveler.  It’s a traditional wide-brim high-quality straw fedora that looks great on almost anyone. “Someone told me to bring it in here since you’re the only store that carries Stetsons. It’s got two letters in it. KL. Here, I’ve got to run,” he said putting the hat on our counter. “It’s a beauty. If no one comes to claim it, I’ll take it. Here’s my card, just in case.”

I thanked him and started reviewing our list of over 1,000 SherlockS Members, checking first and last initials. I found 8 KLs, and set myself the task of calling each one.

10:20  “Kalman Leibowitz?” I asked the fourth Kalman on my list. “Did you by any chance lose a Stetson recently?”

There was no sound at the other end of the phone. It’s a wrong number I thought to myself. Some people’s writing isn’t easy to decipher. We may have entered it incorrectly.

“You found it!” a joyous voice broke the silence. “I can’t believe it. I only wore it on Shabbat so I was hoping someone would bring it back next Shabbat. I want to thank you. You don’t know what a wonderful thing you’ve done. My son’s wedding is a week from today and I was so looking to wearing my Stetson. I would like to pay you for your time and trouble. I’m just amazed you knew my number.”

“Kalman, this is Yaacov from SherlockS hats. We never sell the same hat twice, but thank you for the offer,” I joked. “And mazal tov on your son’s wedding. The hat’s waiting for you here.”

It felt good to know I was able to brighten his day, although the real credit had to go to the gentleman who brought it in. I made a mental note to give Kalman the old man’s card.

11:30 “Hi. Remember me,” a young man came in, waving. He was wearing our Bailey trilby and looked familiar.

“Sure,” I said, not quite sure, “you bought that blue trilby here. Looks pretty good on you.”

“Thanks. You won’t believe it, but I also bought a Stetson the other day. I’m embarrassed to say I lost it. I think I left it at work, but I’m not sure. I remember getting compliments on it but I could have sworn I wore it home. Anyway, it’s gone. It’s got my initials in it –“

“Don’t tell me, KL,” I said.

“You do remember me,”  KL2 said. “I wasn’t sure. But I bet you don’t get a lot of Kol Landaus in the store.” He spied the hat on the counter. “It’s just like that one,” he said, pointing. When he picked up the hat and saw the KL letters on the sweatband, he didn’t know what to think.

What were the chances….

“Uh, I know this sounds strange, but I’m not sure this is your hat,” I said, my bright day now cloudy, with a chance of rain.

“But it has my initials,” KL2 protested.

“Yes, well it seems to be national KL day today. Someone else with the same exact initials lost his hat too. I’m just waiting for him pick it up.”

“But maybe it’s mine,” KL2 said, wistfully.

“Good point. What size are you?” I asked.

“Large,” he answered.

Inside the hat, the size was marked Large.

“Well the other KL may also be a Large,” I said.

I gave KL2 a muffin and an espresso and sat him down. Then I called KL1, who, fortunately, was on his way.

12:30 “Didn’t want to wait. Took a taxi from Beit Shemesh,” KL1 said as he rushed in. “Thanks so much,” he added, spying the hat on the counter. “I told the taxi to wait. We have a meeting with the future in-laws in a couple of hours.“ He went to pick up his hat.

“One second,” KL2 said, joining us. “I also lost my hat and my initials are the same as yours.”

“What? Is this a joke?” KL1 said, very anxious.

“What size hat do you wear, Kalman?” I asked. Please don’t say Large, I secretly prayed.

“Medium,” he said.

“Then I’m afraid this is Kol’s hat,” I said, partially relieved. “It’s a Large.”

KL2 picked up the hat, beaming.

“Wait!” shouted KL1. “Don’t you remember, you didn’t have another medium so you put in some hat foam in a Large to make it smaller?” I took the hat and sure enough, there was hat reducer foam inside the Stetson, enough to bring it down one size.

“Try it on,” I said, just to make sure. It fit like a glove. “It’s a medium alright. I’m sorry Kol.”

KL1 was both happy and sad as he said to KL2, “Sorry about that,” and left, hat in hand.

KL2 was just sad.

“But don’t worry,” I said, trying to reassure him. “If one hat came back, maybe the second hat will too. And I’ll know just whom it belongs to.”

KL2 thanked me for the coffee and muffins. In a moment of rashness, I said, “Look, I don’t have any more larges now, but I will in 3 weeks. If you haven’t found your hat by then you can purchase another, at cost.”

He brightened up a bit, half-smiled, and left.

The KLs taught me an important lesson. At SherlockS we don’t write two initials in your hat anymore. We now use your middle initial too. It may take a few more seconds to write a third initial, but better safe than sorry.

10:30, two days later, the phone rings.  “Hi Yaacov, this is Kol. Guess what? I found my hat. It was in my closet under my wife’s wide-brimmed Justine Hat she bought from you. The brim fit snuggly over my hat so I couldn’t see it. But the minute she put it on and went out shopping, there it was. Thanks.”

After he hung up, it dawned on me. What if the middle initial of both KLs….

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