When I realized I had lost my purse, what was I to do?
First, I searched my house, high and low. I did this three times. Next step was my vehicle. Third step was the college where I teach. Of course, it was closed for the weekend, so I left a message with security. My stress level was high.
And what was in my purse? A credit card, checks, gift cards, about $200-300 in cash, and my driver’s license as well as non-essentials that are easily replaced such as lipstick and pens.
Saturday morning at 11 a.m. I called my bank to discuss options. It was freeze the accounts until I could get in to set up new ones followed by questions about my recent use of the credit card. There was one important check I had sent, and it had not yet cleared.
My stress level continued to rise as did my feeling of stupidity. How could I do this? How many women lose their purse?
So I decided to read on Sunday, to distract myself. Suddenly, the book I had just begun, “The Trust,” by Norb Vonnegut took on new significance. This plot revolved, however, around $200,000,000 and not my meager funds in checking and savings. It also involved Charleston and the Caribbean, a lot of violence and a thug posing as a priest. Before the author dropped the first hint that something was fishy about the priest, the alarms were going off in my head. And I knew from the onset that the widow named Jo Jo was up to no good. After all, how many 39-year-olds do you know named Jo Jo?
Monday was slow in coming, and I thought that 9 a.m. would never arrive. It did and I headed out to the bank.
By this point I had a single dollar in my alternate purse. I was ready to start digging for coins in my sofa or checking junk drawers. When the banker asked me for my driver’s license, I wanted to smirk, but I didn’t. I was compliant and really feeling stupid. As my sister Frances says, I was “as stupid as it gets.”
I have items like my car payment, my burglar alarm, several insurance policies and such automatically deducted from my checking, and I have direct deposit for my income sources.
I so wanted my bank to be customer-focused, and as the banker who assisted me smiled and began to itemize all the places that would need to be called, I kept saying, “I’m so sorry.” And just a call would not work for some of them: paperwork to be faxed, phone calls to me, phone calls to the bank. As the day wore on, I became more embarrassed that I had , in fact, taken up at least one eight-hour day of this banker’s time with more work to be done on Tuesday. I felt I was in good hands on Monday, and this was affirmed on Tuesday morning with a call from the banker (By now I was referring to her as “my banker”) telling me that the important check had cleared and that she had arranged with Honda to get my car payment paid. Relief. I have a good credit rating, which has not always been the case, and wanted to maintain it.
And the driver’s license? My hair was a mess, and I needed to handle that license renewal another day. In the meantime, I was very cautious as I drove. None of that sliding through stop signs.
I learned on Tuesday morning why I had gotten a busy signal at the local DMV when I drove over shortly after 8 a.m. and discovered an empty office. So it was down Interstate 75 10 miles or so where I showed my only remaining picture identification, my passport, to the clerk, answer a host of questions, completed a questionnaire, and had my photo taken. I was prepared, no mug shot for an FBI Most Wanted list.
How common is it to lose purses, billfolds and phones. My college students are young with moist brains, and they regaled me on Tuesday at my noon class with all their stories of loss: phones in the rain in the middle of a parking lot, money missing mysteriously, billfolds that disappeared. I felt better, less stupid.
Have I learned my lesson? I think so. When I travel abroad, I always keep cash, passport, and credit cards in a special little purse that I wear under my clothes. It’s time to find that little purse and start using it.
I learned from a friend that when she travels abroad, she keeps all important documents in her husband’s backpack — under lock and key. He’s a photographer, so he never leaves home without his backpack.
And I’m open to hearing from anyone who’d like to give me advice.
Finally, in answer to the question of “Where?” in my title, I want to say, “If I knew where, it wouldn’t be lost.”
Vivian Blevins is a consultant for the Training Solutions Group Inc. who teaches courses in writing and literature for major telecom company employees. Reach her at (937) 778-3815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.