LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — I was running on empty this morning after I dropped Gabrielle off at school and swung into the gas station to fill up. I had popped open the gas cap, turned off the car and then started digging in my purse for my wallet. Except my new, beautiful wallet I’d gotten for Christmas wasn’t in there.
It was while searching the floor boards that I had a very clear vision of what my wallet looked like in the front of the grocery cart the afternoon before. I then tried to have an equally clear vision of what happened to the wallet after that but: Nothing.
Then, just to be sure I wasn’t crazy, I looked in my purse again. Was it really gone? Had I overlooked the zip-up, snakeskin wallet that had been one of my favorite gifts and that contained $80 in cash, my driver’s license, health insurance cards and bank and credit cards?
Turns out: No. No, I hadn’t.
So, with 10 miles left to spare showing on my gas gauge, I started the 15-minute drive home. How was I feeling? Trying to talk myself down, frankly. I told myself I wasn’t going to run out of gas because who, really, runs out of gas in this day and age? And my wallet was probably sitting peaceably on the kitchen island just waiting to have a big laugh with me once I got home.
But as I drove, my eyes darting back and forth from the gas gauge to my purse, which I really wanted to search again just to be sure, absolutely sure, it really wasn’t in there, I tried to reconstruct my trip to the grocery store the day before.
Not wanting to bring in my purse, which, umm, didn’t match my outfit, I had just taken the wallet inside. I then went to the other side of the store where they keep the mini carts, which I’m not sure they have in London, but are terribly convenient when you have to get too much stuff for a basket but not enough to warrant the clunky full-size buggy. I had picked up Clorox, No Yolks, sour cream and dill.
All the while, my wallet had sat in the convenient front tray of the cart. Had there been a moment when I was over by the citrus that I noticed just how much my new wallet was camouflaged while sitting in the front tray, the color of the snake skin blending seamlessly into the color of the cart? Yes. That had happened.
But then I had gotten the cashier I like, the one who wears plastic gloves and knows every single PLU code, even for shallots and Serrano peppers. And then, I had run to the car, because it was cold and I think I’m tough because I’m Canadian — “This weather is nothing, nothing, sissies,” I proudly tell my husband and stepdaughter — and then I don’t dress warmly enough so I actually do get cold and just want to be in the warm car.
Then I ran the cart back to the cart return carriage and ran back to the car. Did I remember having the wallet in my hands while I ran back? No, I decided, no I didn’t. But if I were running, wouldn’t that mean I would have taken measures to prevent the wallet from falling out?
This is was what I was hanging onto as I pulled into the driveway. Now with 20 minutes before my dentist appointment, which I had no idea how I was going to pay for without my blasted wallet, I walked into the kitchen. And saw: Nothing. No wallet on the island, on the kitchen table, by the coffee maker, by the cookbooks, in the pantry, which was already a stupid stab in the dark because why in the heck would I bring it into the pantry?
I briefly got excited when I thought I might have brought it to the study to make a purchase online, but the desk was clear and, besides, I’ve had the numbers of my American Express memorized for years exactly so I don’t have to hunt for my wallet to retrieve it.
Thinking of having to cancel all my cards and then, imagine, having to re-memorize a new credit card number, I felt panic rise in my chest. I ran to the car and started frantically searching. But again: Nothing.
I thought of my friend Dustie and how she’d been so pleased to give me the wallet because it matched my purse perfectly. I thought of the fact that I keep the receipt for my wedding dress tucked in there just because I’m overly sentimental. I thought about the fact that all my damn Subway points would now be gone and I’d have to start over. The only upside would be I could get a new driver’s license picture — my bangs in the one I have somehow arranged themselves so I look like I have a giant mustache on my forehead — but there would be no guarantee a new one would be any better.
So, just to be absolutely sure, I checked my purse again, now pulling all the items out until the bag was empty. OK, great, now I could be 100 percent, absolutely sure it wasn’t in there.
So, with little left to do, I called Kroger. My voice had taken on the pinched, unattractive pitch it gets when I’m worried. The guy asked me to describe the wallet and I lovingly did so, giving so many details he stopped me.
“And what’s your name?”
“T, as in Tom, A-R-A K-A-P, as in Paul-R-O-W-Y, as in yellow.”
“Yeah, we got it.”
Should I admit I whooped right into the phone and thanked God in heaven for personally being responsible for finding my wallet and returning it to me? Probably not. Will I tell you I was overwhelmed by a warm gush of goodwill toward beautiful, honest Kentuckians? Yep, I’ll give you that one.
And, honestly, I’ve been basking in that all morning. Not one dollar is gone, every card is sitting in its slot, I actually doubt the zipper was even opened. So thanks, whoever you are, thanks for saving my bacon. I owe you one.