We had been out running errands that day, driving around to various shops to pick up an assortment of items needed for the upcoming weekend. It was late afternoon and we hoped to find all of the things remaining on our list at one final store before it closed for the day, and save ourselves another last-minute trip in the morning.
I pulled the car into a parking space, we got out and I locked the car. I opened my purse to pull out our shopping list and realized that I didn’t see my wallet inside. I froze, but only for a moment. Then I burst into action.
First, I unlocked the car and we dug around under the seats. I really didn’t think we would find my wallet there, but it gave me time to think. Where did I last see it? Where did I last use it?
“Oh no.” Our previous stop had been to the water store, and in my mind I could clearly see myself putting my wallet on top of the vending machine as I filled our plastic jugs. “I think I know where it is. Let’s go!”
We were miles away, in another town, and I was now driving in rush hour traffic in the commuter lane. My mind raced ahead of me, imagining every possible scenario I could face when I arrived. For the first few minutes, I was hopeful. We just had to get there before someone saw the wallet sitting there out in the open. Then doubt seeped in. How could anyone *not* notice a wallet on top of a vending machine?
I berated myself for being so careless. I had been in a hurry, trying to do too many things, thinking about the next task before completing the current one. I stepped on the gas pedal in anger, then backed off when I realized the speed I was going.
In a matter of minutes I was babbling to myself. I considered whether this trip was worth the miles, whether it was a waste of time, or something I absolutely had to try. Maybe the wallet would still be there, and the thief would take only the cash, leaving me the credit cards and identification. Maybe a kind soul found it and turned it in at the water store counter — except that the store would have closed by now. I might drive all the way there only to had no way of knowing whether my wallet was inside the store or out of the county by now.
I begged the universe to watch over my wallet. Then I asked for the grace to accept the loss. I didn’t deserve any special favors from the wallet gods, but maybe they could take pity on me and at least end my suffering.
By now, my passenger was feeling my pain, but also amused by my wildly swinging emotional state. She and I discussed ways we could turn my facial expressions into a comic strip. It kept me from looking at the clock for a few minutes, but then I pictured each panel of the comic including a digital readout of the elapsed time, and I returned to reality with a groan.
We finally arrived at the shopping center where the water store was located. I drove across the parking lot, approaching the store with the outside vending machine in sight. I couldn’t see my wallet from that distance…
I pulled into the parking space directly in front of the store. And there in the shadows was the vending machine, with something on top! Yes! It was my wallet! “Holy crap!” I left the car running and burst out of my seat. My wallet, and all my cards, and all my photos, and all my cash, exactly as I had left it. I think I actually apologized to it for abandoning it there.
We drove all the way back to the last store to finish our shopping as planned. The entire trip was punctuated by my repeated outbursts of disbelief: “No way!” I was stunned and amazed and grateful. Amen.