Living in a Material World

I reached into my bag to grab my wallet and pay for the food supplement at the pet store when I realized it wasn’t there. The owner of the store saw my face and said, “Uh-oh. Something not good is happening.” “Oh, NO!” I exclaimed. “I stopped for gas on the way here (15 miles back) from work, and I did something I never do, which is leave my wallet on the top of the car while I pumped gas. I must have driven off with it still there.”

I raced out of the store as I heard her say that she would put the supplement  behind the counter.


I tried to invoke Siri’s help in calling the Hess station where I stopped, but she kept offering me a confounding array of options that I could not review while driving. There was only one number that I tried before tearing out of the parking lot, and no one answered.


I screeched into the Hess lot and dashed inside, explaining what happened. “No, no one has turned in a wallet.” “It’s red!” I cried, as if that made it more turn-in-able. Scanning the lot and the pump I used, I started my trek up the road. There were two guys planting the small hill outside the Longhorn restaurant next door. I repeated my plight. They looked at each other, but neither had seen a red wallet (with the words dum-dum implied on the top).


I marched along the side of the road, sweeping up and around each section of sidewalk and road. The onramp to Route 495 is a large right turning arc and I thought this was a likely place it would fall off. Up the side of this quarter mile of weeds I tromped in my little black dress with tiny white polka dots and my wedge heels. Nothing. When I reached the highway I stood and sighed and then turned around to walk the strip that separated the on and off ramps, hoping a different angle might yield a better result.


A hundred yards down a trooper heading to the highway pulled over. “What are you doin?” His tone was respectful and wary. I embarrassedly told my unfortunate tale. “You aren’t going to walk on the highway, are you?” Something about his tone told me that he had already received a call about some loon trooping around the side of the road. “No, I’m going to get my car and drive on the highway,” I assured him. He seemed satisfied. “Okay, good luck.” And he was off.


I continued my fruitless search and was within 50 yards of the Hess when I spotted a twenty dollar bill on the sidewalk. “It’s not my wallet, but I’ll take twenty bucks,” I thought. As I bent down to pick it up, I spotted my wallet a few feet away, on the side of the road. There it was, with seemingly nothing else gone! How could I have missed it the first time around? Perhaps a car was driving over it at that moment? Whatever the reason, I breathed deeply and trotted to tell the Hess cashier. Thanking the gods of St. Anthony, or whoever else is responsible for this lovely turn of fate, I sent up a word of thanks for saving not only that afternoon, but countless other hours of replacing licenses, credit cards and precious photos.


Vowing to take more time and turn down the multitasking setting in my brain, I returned to the pet store, home, and the rest of my life. I think about the gift this kind of near miss represents, and want to make sure that I am not just running on. We all make mistakes, and certainly I will never again adorn the roof of my car with my wallet, but I need to really pay attention to where I am and what I am doing. Life in the slightly slower lane promises untold rewards. I’m all for that.


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About Meg

Meg is a licensed independent clinical social worker with over thirty-five years clinical experience. She holds a Master’s Degree from the Boston University School of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts from the State University of New York at Binghamton.