Have you ever lost the keys to your car?  Then you know that sinking feeling, the one that targets the pit of your stomach.  What are you going to do?  Whom do you call?  Many thoughts run through your mind.  But that’s not the topic here.  That’s not what I lost.  It was something equally distressing, though.

I was shopping in a town that is a thirty-minute drive from my home.  As I had taken the time to drive the distance, I made good use of the trip to visit several stores.  It was at my second stop that things started to go wrong.  I picked up a few grocery items in the store and made my way to the checkout.  As the clerk scanned the items, I reached into my purse to get my debit card to pay.  But what card?  I had already used it at one store, and it’s not unusual for me to hurriedly drop it back in my purse (after spritzing it with alcohol) instead of placing it in the pocket where it belongs.  I often have to rummage through my purse (despite its small size) to find the card.  And I did that, but I couldn’t find it.  The cashier finished the scanning quickly, and I had no way to pay.  Did I leave it in the car?  I had to bear the humiliation of telling the clerk that I didn’t have my card and that I would have to go look for it.  She seemed to be understanding, but I was still embarrassed.

Out to the car I went, slightly nervous but thinking that it must be hidden in my purse or perhaps in the shopping bag from the first store.  I got in the car and looked through my purse again, this time pulling things out of it.  I took out my phone, my alcohol spray bottle, my driver’s license, keys, tissues, a shopping list, a package of gum – but the remaining tiny items couldn’t possibly be obscuring a bank card.  It simply wasn’t in there.  I similarly emptied the shopping bag, but that was likewise fruitless.  Had I put anything in the trunk?  I opened the trunk, but I didn’t see anything useful in there.  I returned to the back seat of the car and looked through the bag once more, but there was nothing.  I got back in the front seat and made the decision to call the first store I had been to.  I was worried that I had dropped the card in the store and that someone would steal it.  I talked to a clerk that was happy to take a look around, but there was nothing near the registers.  She said she would have someone check around the store and parking lot, but it would take a few minutes.  She took my phone number to call back when they were through.

There I sat, waiting and perplexed.  If they didn’t find the card, I would have to call the bank to cancel my card, and my trip would have to be cut short.  I’d have to go home.  I had a strong feeling that I had put the card back in my purse after paying at that store.  That didn’t mean that it couldn’t have fallen out when I pulled out the car keys or something else, but I felt that that hadn’t happened.  Then where was it? I looked around the car again.  I looked at the trash on the floor.  In my flurry to find the card, I had thrown tissues and the shopping list on the floor to get them out of my way.  I didn’t see how it could be among those things, but I took a baggie to use as a glove and looked through the rubbish anyway.  I reached for the shopping list, which had been written on a piece of scrap paper – a piece of folded paper.  And lo and behold, the paper felt hard when I picked it up.  My card had slipped into the folds of the paper!  In my haste I had tossed the list on the floor without even feeling the card inside.  Relief.

Did the story end there?  Of course not; I’m a germophobe.  The card had been on the floor.  It appeared to have been protected by the paper, but there was no way to be certain that a corner hadn’t slipped out when it landed on the floor or when I picked it up reaching over from the other seat.  If I wanted to continue shopping, I had to clean off the card.  Wet wipes to the rescue!  I picked it up with one wipe and rubbed it thoroughly, then I dropped it onto the next one.  The pattern continued until I had gone through eight wipes.  A spray with alcohol finished off the process, and my card was once again functional.

I called the first store where they were still looking for my card, let them know I had found it, and apologized.  I was then ready to put the card to use again.  I went back into the store where I had left my groceries.  It had been about a half-hour since I left, so I assumed that the clerk expected me not to come back.  But she had put my groceries aside, so I didn’t have to go through the store again, which was nice.  I finished out the day as usual, only a little more stressed.  But isn’t that a way of life for a germophobe?



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