Self-Improvement Attempts #1 – Missing Wallet


I took one step backwards Friday night in the area of getting it together, when I lost my wallet (or possibly had it pick-pocketed). I know we all like to jump to conclusions and say, “Oh, Joe probably dropped it or left it on a table or it’s probably still at home under a couch cushion,” but I know it definitely went missing inside of a small bar called Lulu’s in Greenpoint. As soon as I entered the bar, I went to buy a Guinness, but found only five dollars in my wallet. I needed another dollar to tip, so I went over to my buddy Ryan and asked, “Hey can I have a dollar forever?” because who pays back one dollar? It’s an insult to repay a dollar, and certainly it’s embarrassing to collect on a dollar:
“Hey buddy, just wondered if we could settle up today.”
“Settle up?”
“Yeah, remember last month? You borrowed four quarters for laundry.”
“I don’t remember that.”
“Well, I’d like to square up.”

So I take Ryan’s dollar and buy a Guinness. Fifteen minutes later, I’m half-way through my Guinness, and I realize my wallet is missing (my goodness!). I searched every corner of the bar and asked all of the staff, and it never turned up.

I had been showing a positive improvement trend when it came to losing things, so this was a setback. Four years ago was the last time I lost a major item, and once again it was the wallet. I was working in Atlanta and I was wearing old jeans with holes in both pockets. It’s not that I was living in such poverty I couldn’t afford new pants, it’s just that I liked these particular jeans, which happened to have defective pockets. The wallet fell through, and I never found it, so I stopped wearing those jeans. Improvement.

This time, there was a different malfunction. The wallet, keys, and phone are the three important lumps that I’ve become very aware of. I have an internal security system that is constantly running a perimeter sweep on the three lumps, and as soon as a lump goes missing the alarm is tripped. I’m usually able to track down the problem within seconds: keys on table, wallet on car floor, cell phone in my hand because I’m on a call, etc.

Unfortunately on Friday night, there was a false fourth lump that threw the whole security system off. My contacts were bothering me, so I brought my glasses along in a glasses case, just in case I’d need to make a switch. Not only had I added a lump, but it was a relatively similar lump to a wallet lump, in both size and firmness. When the wallet went missing, I still had three lumps, and my security system remained unaware that there was a breach.

The question is, moving forward, how can I improve? Well, I can make sure to never add a fourth lump again, or I can get lasik surgery. Those seem to be the two routes to improvement. I’m afraid of Lasik, because of the possibility that one of my eyes will be exploded by a laser, so I don’t think that’s the option for me. I think the answer for me is that if a fourth lump is required (i.e. glasses, phone charger, digital recorder) then I need to bring my satchel. I don’t care if you make fun of my satchel.
“Oh, Joe decided to bring his man-purse today.”
Okay, well maybe I do care a little bit, but you always thank me later when I’m helping you sneak wine out of the wedding reception, or burritos into the movie theater.

If the satchel had come along, I suspect this crisis would have been averted. Instead, I’ve had to cancel my credit cards and I’m walking around with a passport and a check book, like some sort of 20th century European tourist. The good news is there was no cash left in my wallet, as I’d just spent the last five dollars. The bad news is I had three gift cards in my wallet, and when you crunch the numbers it stings:
1) Starbucks gift card – $19 remainder (unrecoverable because the card wasn’t registered)
2) Barnes & Noble gift card – $12 remainder
3) Olive Garden gift card – $25 unused, yikes!

This means some criminal is on the loose drinking my Mocha, reading my paperback copy of “Awaken the Giant Within,” and eating my endless breadsticks. Alternately, if the perpetrator simply tossed my wallet into the garbage, that means the corporations are making out like bandits with gift card donations.

Moving forward:
1) Three lumps only. If the glasses need to come, so does the satchel.

2) Due to increased satchel carrying, I’ll need to brainstorm some better satchel come-backs:

“Nice man-purse Joe.”
“No you have a nice man-purse.”

“What is that Joe, a Wachovia bag?”
“What is that…your face?”

“Do you really need that satchel Joe?”
“Do you really need…that face?”

Not bad.

3) must register all gift cards to keep the corporations honest.

There you have it, I’ve learned from my mistakes and I’m better for it. What doesn’t kill me, only makes me stronger, unless it steals my identity and now there’s a warrant out for my arrest for something I didn’t do.

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