46 Following

Gurglings of a Putrid Stream

Thoughts on books and other assorted topics.

See also:  http://goppf.wikidot.com/swstart

My name:  Brian Martin

Merry Christmas?

Never fails. Holiday comes up, I say I'm going to get everything we need a couple days before so I can just relax, and then I'm off to the store for something I forgot at the last minute. Nothing new this Christmas Eve. Except that it happened twice!

Stores here were closing at 8 p.m. I dashed off to Wal-Mart around 4, picked up a few things, got back and had just started to settle in when my wife remembered that we'd run out of tape and she still had some presents to wrap. I don't know about you, but I'm not thrilled by the thought of going to a store and then turning around and going right back to the same store. So this time I decided to go to Tom Thumb. Off I went again (this time in the opposite direction), and of course "tape" had by now turned into a short list of things for me to buy. Nothing I couldn't hand carry, thank goodness. I say that because having plopped my items down on the belt in the Express Lane and waiting patiently for my turn, I reached for my wallet and it was gone.

This has happened a couple of other times in my life. I'm never looking in a mirror, but I can tell I get this deer-in-the-headlights look when it does. The first time I went to Vegas was the worst. I was a whole lot younger then, but I'm not sure it would have made any difference. What does everyone say when you go to an unfamiliar city (or country, for that matter). Make sure, they say, to protect your wallet. And be mindful of anyone who bumps into you. A small distraction is all a good pickpocket needs. One common piece of advice for men is to move your wallet into your front pocket. I did that when we got there (I went with a friend who'd been to Vegas once before.) And so now we're in a casino and I'm marvelling at everything and when I turn around, an old man bumps into me. Alarm bells clanging in my head, I reach for my wallet. Force of habit has me reaching for my back pocket. And it isn't there! I immediately reached out and grabbed the man's arm, completely at a loss what to say to him, but certain that I didn't want him making off with all my money on my first day in Sin City. He was looking at me, thoroughly confused, and I had just begun to say something when I remembered what I'd done. And sure enough, when I checked my front pocket, there was my wallet, safe and secure. It was all quite embarrassing.

So, yesterday, back at Tom Thumb, with the cashier looking at me as I'm fumbling through my pockets, I realize that this time my wallet is really gone. "Is it maybe in the car?" he asked. If it is, I thought, I've just broken the laws of physics. But I said, "Yeah, let me go check." Meanwhile I was thinking hard where it might really be. The only thing I could figure was that I must have lost it at Wal-Mart. And now it's getting dark, and it's 6 p.m., and I know if I can't find it, my Christmas isn't going to be a merry one, for just the thought of everything I'd have to do would occupy my mind the whole time.

Once I got in the car -- and, ok, yeah, I looked, but physical law remained inviolate -- I got on the phone. And got disconnected. I redialed. And got disconnected again. I decided I had to get moving because what if somehow it had fallen in the parking lot. I doubted I could find it even now, but it was getting darker by the minute. So I started driving and then tried calling once more. This time I got through, to the switchboard operator: "How may I direct your call?" I told her what I thought happened and she transferred me to the Service Desk. Several minutes later she came back on the line to tell me they were really busy. Finally the Service Desk answered. When I told the woman that I thought I'd lost my wallet, she said something very hopeful. Not, Nope, nothing's been turned in, or I don't think so, but I'll check. No, she said, "What's your name?" I felt pretty good after that. Once she'd confirmed my name matched the one on the license in the wallet that had been turned in, she reminded me the store was closing in a couple hours. By then I was able to tell her I was just crossing the last intersection and I'd be there directly.

So, yeah, Merry Christmas to everyone. And especially to the person who turned in my wallet on Christmas Eve. I hope Santa was watching.