Lost and found

Some may notice that I occasionally use this page to further my own personal agenda usually in the form of a tirade about someone or something. But I'm a journalist, so it's okay to bitch at least that's what someone once told me. Of course, there's only so much a person can take. I'm sure some of you out there are thinking, "Please, whoever has been stealing the flowers out of her yard, stop. For the love of God."

But you'll be glad to know, this column has nothing to do with me being wronged, ripped off or wrangled. I come to you today with good tidings. That's right. The girl with the black cloud over her head actually was the recipient of a random act of kindness.

But before I go further, allow me to digress. I may or may not have mentioned (I forget) that I suffer from an acute case of momzheimer's. It's an affliction striking women in middle age with one or more children. Symptoms include walking into rooms for no apparent reason, forgetting one's own name and date of birth, forgetting one's loved one's names and dates of birth, inability to remember the last time the dog was fed, and never really knowing the location of one's keys, sunglasses, remote control or checkbook.

Of course, putting the onus on my innocent child is unfair. In fact, I think there is a simple explanation: aliens. They sneak in at night and siphon brain cells while I'm sleeping. And here's where it gets weird they replace them with lyrics from bad '80s songs. How else do you explain why I have trouble remembering my own phone number but can recite all the lyrics to the "The Pi`F1a Colada Song?" The up side to all this is that aliens are smart enough to only go after the fittest of the species so at least I've got that going for me.

My husband, who can remember someone he passed on a crowded escalator in Grand Central Station 30 years ago, thinks it's funny. I swear he sometimes hides my wallet just for entertainment. But for those of us suffering from memory deficit disorder, it is no laughing matter. Not only are we susceptible to the sabotage of our own selves, but that of others. It doesn't take a criminal mastermind to recognize that incomprehensible muttering and faraway flustered look and go in for the kill. We're easy prey, like a keg of cheap beer at a frat party.

I know, I know. There's contraptions for people like me big chains that attach wallets to your pants and those Croakies things that keep sunglasses around your neck. But the fact of the matter is and no offense to those who do the chain thing I've never been into the custodial look, and I gave up on the Croakies years ago after a bizarre near strangling. Besides, more often than not, stuff eventually resurfaces typically after removing the couch cushions.

Of course, this is not always the case. Take the day last week, when, in the midst of filling up my car, I noticed my wallet was missing. After doing everything short of removing the car seats (which would have required heavy machinery) I realized I must have left it at one of my previous stops that day which were numerous. The gas clerk allowed me to take off, using my car registration as collateral. Perhaps she thought $7.51 in gas wasn't that much to get worked up over, or perhaps she took pity because I appeared on the edge of hyperventilation.

Normally, I wouldn't bat an eye at a misplaced wallet because a.) it resurfaces eventually and secondly, there's never anything in there worth stealing (unless you're into old receipts). My check card had gone missing weeks earlier (which, by the way, is still MIA) and my credit cards are all maxed out. About all a thief could do is rack up some fines at the library and maybe send a few letters.

But this time, there was a difference: a tidy wad of crisp Jacksons tucked inside. I don't normally carry cash for obvious reasons, but I was about to embark on a road trip, and had taken the money out a day earlier. I thought I could trust myself for 24 hours, but obviously had proved myself wrong.

I tried to keep my composure as I retraced my steps. The first stops turned up nothing, which meant my most dreaded fear was coming true: I had left my bulging wallet at the most heavily trafficked site in the entire county, City Market South. I would like to say I gunned it to the store like a banshee, but anyone who has experienced midday traffic on North Main knows the folly in this. Rather, several excruciating minutes ticked by as I stop-and-goed my way back there, providing ample time to envision the Lotto tickets, Mountain Dew, video games and all-you-can-eat McDonald's binges my hard-earned cash would be buying.

By the time I made it to the store, found a parking spot and ran in, I had come to terms with my own stupidity and the fact that by now, someone was on his or her second Quarter Pounder with Cheese, gratis me. But I decided I'd ask the lady at the help desk anyway, on the off chance that my scary, beat-up, old blue canvas wallet was so heinously ugly and unpromising that whoever found it turned it in, possibly afraid of what was inside. And then there was the even off-er chance that whoever found it was actually a decent human being, trying to do something nice.

"I don't suppose you found a blue wallet?" I asked the clerk, my voice hedging precariously on this side of sanity.

She paused, turned to ask me to describe the blue wallet in question, but thought better after observing the beads of sweat and look of exasperation on my face. She walked to the safe, unlocked it, reached in and pulled out my ratty blue wallet. I refrained from kissing her, mostly because the counter was too tall, but showered her with multiple "thank yous."

Strangely enough, I did not immediately rip the wallet open to make sure everything was accounted for. For some reason, I knew it would all be there. And later when I got back in my car and peered inside, it was down to the last lint ball.

My jubilation quickly turned to guilt and shame. How could I have been so uncharitable toward my fellow humans, to just assume that meanspiritedness was the norm rather than the exception? My faith in humanity was restored, if only for a little while, and I had learned a valuable lesson (aside from never carrying large amounts of cash on my person) and best of all, it didn't cost me a cent.




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