There are, of course, many and much greater pains in the butt than losing a wallet, but losing a wallet ranks pretty damn high on the list when it happens to be yours.
It happened to me. Yesterday. In Laguna Beach.
It was Patriots' Day here, the day of the big annual parade. Ellie and I had errands to run in town, and decided that we'd get into town ahead of the festivities. In the past, we have joined the event with a group of "Patriots for Peace"--an admittedly somewhat straggly bunch, placed strategically at the ragged end of the parade. George the dog has accompanied us in the past, tail held high and waving proudly like a flag. This time around we were tired after (for me) that weekend's training in the mountains and a busy-ish week in town, and decided that we'd skip our patriotic duty.
We walked downtown with George and stopped at the Cafe Zinc, our usual haunt for a cup of coffee, and shared a dish of scrambled eggs with leeks and a well-toasted bagel. We made another stop at the organic food market to buy some odds and ends of groceries, then on to the hardware store where Ellie had a previous purchase to return. (George very disappointed here, because they usually have a little doggie treat at the check-out counter. Yesterday he was out of luck. No cookies.) We went on down the main drag and stopped at the drug store and a t-shirt shop. Then on down to the beach, where we'd promised George a good run with his ball. George is a big fan of the beach. Before hitting the sand, we paused at a bench on the boardwalk to put on his long-line leash, since he's not allowed to run free and the animal control cops are much too fond of handing out tickets to miscreants. Then walked back along the beach for a half-mile stretch and back up the hill to the cottage.
It was here that I discovered that my wallet had slipped out of my jacket pocket somewhere along our route.
Oh, misery! It had a hundred dollars in cash, along with my credit card, my debit card, my driver's license, my Kaiser health coverage card, my press ID card, and all those other items that belong in a person's wallet.
I called the police. I called the lifeguard station. I called each of the shops where we had stopped along the way. No luck. I called the credit card company to put a hold on the Visa card. I went online to find out about driver's license replacement. A little later, the two of us drove down--sans George--to retrace our steps. Thinking the most likely place to have lost the wallet was the boardwalk, where I had taken off my jacket and stuffed it into one of the shopping bags, we returned to our bench. The area teems with the homeless and the hungry, and I worried that if one had found the wallet, he could easily have slipped the bills out and tossed the rest into one of the many, many trash bins along the way. He would have been welcome to the money...
There were a bunch of these guys near the bench where we had sat, so I went to ask if anyone might by any chance have seen my wallet. They were very sweet, a little tipsy, wanted to be helpful. But no result. We walked on to the life guard station. No luck. Back to the hardware store. Nope. In desperation, we decided that gelato was the only possible consolation and stopped at the ice cream parlor. Ellie had healthy yogurt. I had one scoop of mint chocolate and one scoop of pistachio. And we drove back home.
Now, next week, I have a lot of dreary chores ahead of me. Some sympathy, please... Though I don't deserve it, for my stupidity and inattention!
NEWS UPDATE: Blogger's Wallet Recovered!
After a day of imagining the horrors involved in replacing the contents of my wallet, I checked in with the voice mail at my Los Angeles office in the later afternoon. A message from American Express security. They had received a call from a man to tell the credit card company he had the missing item intact. He left a name and a telephone number. A fellow Peter. I called. I left a message on his voice mail. He called back at eight. He told me this was his second wallet recovery in as many months. I told him he must have good wallet karma. We arranged for a meet in ten minutes' time outside the Laguna Beach hardware store. He would be wearing a white sweat shirt...
I drove down. From his voice and his German-origin last name, I had imagined someone different. Peter turned out to be a very dark-skinned Latino, beaming with pleasure at having located the owner of his find. I gave him a big, spontaneous, genuinely-felt hug. I offered to buy him a nice dinner with some of the cash he had saved me, and he accepted graciously, at my insistence. We parted ways, and I drove back home with a song in my heart and a wallet in my pocket. Along with a little less than a hundred dollars in cash, my credit card, my debit card, my driver's license, my Kaiser health coverage card, my press ID card, and all those other items that belong in a person's wallet... Thanks to Peter.
The lesson from all this? Pay attention. Breathe. Be patient with loss; don't grieve your losses before you know they're real. Be grateful for blessings, great and small. Believe that there are good-hearted people everywhere. Pay attention. And breathe.