This weekend I lost my wallet.
I’ve had tons of close calls, where I’ve thought I lost my wallet, only to have it turn up in my car, or at the bottom of my black hole of a purse, or at a friend’s house. One time, I awoke and realized that my wallet was missing, and in a frantic effort to retrieve it, called the movie theater that I had visited the night prior and crawled on my hands and knees through the sticky grossness that is a movie theater floor (for some reason, the theater didn’t turn the lights on inside of the theaters until night) until I found it (which I did).
On this particular Friday night (this past Friday night), I visited Saratoga with my friend Andrea, and we hit up some awesome sales at Gap (pimp hat for $10–like whoa), bought some books (The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, is awesome 45 pages in), and ate at Bailey’s Cafe. I split the bill with her, we squabbled over pennies, and called it a night. Halfway home, listening to Joe Purdy (which is featured in my Music page at the top of this blog–new addition, shameless plug…) I was struck with the thought to check my purse to make sure my wallet was there. Can you guess the ending of this story?
I retraced my steps and went back to the restaurant, turned tables upside down, and got a little heated with the Hostess (I don’t need your prayers for me and my lost wallet sweetheart, just write down my name and phone number and save your sugary condolences for someone else). I left in tears, facing an uncomfortable phone call with my parents and a long drive home (without a driver’s license, my health insurance card, or my AAA card–not recommended for the kids reading this at home).
It’s amazing the vulnerability one feels without a wallet–as stupid as it sounds. In a capitalist society, there’s not much one can do without money, especially in an emergency situation, and with my social security card and credit cards in there, there’s always the fear of fraud and identity theft. Worse case scenarios popped into my head (I am truly my mother’s daughter) and the stress that had arisen quickly cultivated into a full-blown panic attack. Looking back now, it all seems a bit ridiculous.
When I was in ninth grade, at the end of the school year I was preparing myself for my first Regent’s Exam, a standardized test in each high school subject that each student must pass in order to receive a high school diploma in New York State. Teachers and classmates had hyped it up to be the most important test of our lives, bar none. Thus, I woke up the day of my Earth Science Regents Exam quite nervous. Like all big test days, I woke up early, got a good breakfast in me, reviewed some key terms, and headed to school. I sat in the school’s gymnasium, at my designated desk, and began fidgeting nervously. The proctors began handing out the test, and the familiar feeling of panic swept over me, and for good reason: I had forgotten to bring a writing utensil to the test. No pen. No pencil. No makeshift lead-like apparatus. Nada. Of course, the well-prepared students surrounding me had brought enough pencils that could allow the entire Chinese military to write for a year–and a nice girl adjacent to me offered me a plethora of pens and pencils to choose from, and everything was of course fine. But it was not exactly how I had planned on tackling the first challenge high school had thrown at me.
It’s amazing how such little things can throw us so far off our game. Karma, Murphy’s Law, Hard Cheese (Google it up, my friend)…whatever explanation you have for bad shit happening, it does, in fact, happen all of the time. Lost wallets, car accidents, and larceny, are all of life’s mishaps that have unfortunately become rites of passages for all of us. And while Alanis Morrisette may have made a career with her take on the daily woes, the rest of us are left without the Grammy Awards and with the ruined day, as a result of the stress and panic that come with any minor tragedy.
Rolling with the punches, severe as they may be, is one of those virtues that sometimes seems impossible to attain. Any ‘ol shmuck can list of hundreds of reasons why today sucks, but I truly admire those who, when I ask how their day is, can tell me something good that has happened. But how frequently does that really happen? When is the last time you’ve asked someone how their day is, and have the person respond by rattling off the good things? The point is, bad things happen to good people. You offer to pay for the tip at dinner, and you accidentally leave your wallet behind. You let a pedestrian (perhaps dressed as a wizard for Harry Potter Day…ask Andrea) cross the street while driving, and you get rear-ended. It happens. And it still sucks. But life’s occurrences can be divided into two categories: those that are controllable, and those that aren’t. Bad weather, car accidents, lost paychecks, and stepping in dog crap on your way to work are all sucky, uncontrollable events, but our reactions to them are what we can control. Wasting time getting thoroughly frustrated over uncontrollable events is a truly heartbreaking loss, especially when you can be spending that time doing something you enjoy doing, or helping another human being. Just think about it.
Saturday morning, 7 a.m., a friendly man named Jim called my house. He found a wallet outside of the church he was running a defensive driving course in, on the same street I had parked my car on Friday night. He saw the name on the driver’s license said Molly Chester, and spent the better part of his Saturday morning calling every Chester in the phone book. The sixth Chester in the book was, in fact, me. By noon on Saturday, not only did I have my wallet back, but my high spirits were returned (with the help of the Spice Girls Greatest Hits album, of course), and my faith in the human race was renewed. My only regret, of course, is that my newfound outlook on life was given to me by four trips to Saratoga, three canceled credit cards, two angry parents, and a partridge in a pear tree. And an unnecessary-ruined Friday night.