Losing it: The ups and downs of dropping my wallet

August 29, 2011

If you enjoy the show Curb Your Enthusiasm, I covered it last night for the AV Club.

I was pretty sure I knew where I lost my wallet, and it was not in a dignified manner. Steve and I were playing nine holes at the Frank Govern golf course in Evanston yesterday, and since I was sucking anyway (who would have thought that you had to, like, practice in order to be decent?) I decided to pull out my Droid and be a smart aleck after spotting a bit of very personal trash on the course. My wallet most likely fell out of my bag as I pulled out my phone, and in the grand scheme of things, I probably deserved it, for rudely cell-phoning on the course and also being juvenile.

I didn’t realize that I lost my wallet until several hours later, though. The search began with me emptying my golf bag, which was a little exciting in and of itself (I found, in addition to balls and tees, three used gloves and one glove still in its packaging, an assortment of packaged and loose napkins and tissues in various states of use, sunscreen, bug spray, two epi-pens, a bobby pin, a sunglasses case and a tube of lip gloss). Then I decimated all the piles that had accumulated through the house over the course of the week, hoping it was perhaps hiding beneath a magazine or newspaper. Finally we drove back to Evanston so we could retrace our steps.

On the way, I had a feeling I would get my wallet back. I lose little things (I have a graveyard of lonesome single earrings that will die widows and widowers) but typically the important things come back to me through my sheer force of wanting it. Once at summer camp I realized that the St. Clare of Assisi medallion my parents had brought back to me from the Vatican had gone missing during free swim, and I sifted through the sand on the beach until I uncovered it. When I was in  junior high, I brushed by the volleyball net while chasing around the dog in my parents’ back yard and realized that I had lost a pearl earring. These happened to be the earrings I was ceremoniously presented with when I turned 13 and finally allowed to get my ears pierced, so they had a lot of sentimental value. “I thought you might wear them when you get married,” my mom said wistfully. “But it’s okay.” That guilt trip sent me on my hands and knees in my parents’ big back yard, searching methodically between every blade of grass until I found that tiny earring. Later in high school, my friend Tracy and I went driving around one night and found some delightfully huge piles of leaves on a Winnetka street. We threw ourselves into the pile and jumped around and went home, until the next day I realized that I was missing my wallet. Typically I took the bus to school but my dad must have been out of town that day, so I had a car. I ditched symphony to go off-campus to find the street that Tracy and I had stopped on, find the leaf pile (presuming that it hadn’t been disposed of by the city yet) and then find the wallet in the leaf pile. And you know what? I found that damned green Kero Kero Keroppi velcro wallet. In college once, while waiting tables, I found that the stone had popped out of a ring I was wearing and managed to find it on the floor despite the fact that it was the lunch rush at an already-busy restaurant. I’m very lucky and somewhat determined.

As Steve and I combed the golf course (sticking close to the woods on the right-hand side, which is my favorite place to lose balls), asking people to keep an eye out for it, I clung to this hope that if I wished hard enough, I’d get the wallet back. Of course I didn’t want to cancel all my credit cards, get a new drivers license and CTA card and all that. And I hated feeling like that idiot who loses her wallet. Plus, Steve and I tend to take turns losing things that the other gives them and I didn’t want it to be my turn quite yet (he got me this wallet while in Brooklyn and I quite like it, although the next wallet I get I think I want it to be neon pink or something like that, for spotting purposes, because I knew finding a wallet that looks like nature--in nature--would be hard.) The phrase “There it is!” was on the tip of my tongue, because I really wanted to say it and for it to be true.

But alas. We headed home and I tore through everything again but couldn’t find it.  I resisted calling Citibank for a while because I was lazy, and because I just wanted to wait a little bit longer, just in case.

I even went Catholic on it. “Who’s that saint you pray to when you lose something? Vincent? Jude?” I asked out loud. I had to google it to find out: Anthony. I’m really not the most diligent Catholic these days, but maybe St. Anthony didn’t know that. I offered him a quick shout-out in my mind.

I imagined the people who picked up the wallet and who were spending my money, benefiting from my lack of financial responsibility. They were probably buying lots more condoms to use while having sex on the green.  It was time to get real. I looked up the Citibank number for reporting lost or stolen credit cards and was immediately sent to phone hell when the automated system asked me for my credit card number. Well of course I didn’t have my credit card number. I did nothing, hoping the system would sense my helplessness but of course it said, snottily, “I didn’t quite catch that!” I hit 0, which should be considered “SOS” when it comes to automated dialing situations, but Ms. Citibank said “I’m sorry...”

Just when I was starting to get angry with a robot, my call-waiting beeped. I switched over and heard “Is this Claire?” It was the golf course, reporting that some kind soul out there had found the wallet and turned it in. Everything seemed to be intact, cash, cards, even the ratty strip of stamps I keep in there. The Good Samaritan didn’t leave a name or number but I’m going to make a conscious effort to be kinder to strangers for a while after this incident. And I’m going to be more careful with my belongings. And I’m going to go to the driving range. And I’m going to stop Twittering so much on my phone. And if I see a used condom, instead of making fun of it, I will try to find some way of disposing of it (isn’t that really what golf clubs are for?)

Anyway, even though I didn’t deserve it, once again St. Anthony, or luck, or my willpower helped something I lost come back to me. Now you tell me: do you have any amazing tales of things you lost coming back to you, despite the odds?