“Where was the last place you had it?” says every Mom every time their panicked child can’t find something. The last place I had my wallet was at Stop and Shop and the last thing I did was buy the Grinch some muffins. Unfortunately that was 24 hours ago and it was definitely the last place I had my wallet. It’s December 23rd and I am supposed to be out shopping…
I scoured my car, the refrigerator, every possible landing spot from the garage to the kitchen table and all the couch seat cushions. I knew what jacket I was wearing and I even pulled the clean laundry from the washer to see if I had washed my wallet but to no avail.
Go back to the store and retrace your steps I told myself, and yes, I was now speaking out loud to calm my nerves. I looked at every curb and piece of trash between my house and the stores hoping someone took the cash and threw the wallet away. The cash was minimal but the gift cards I just bought, the credit cards and the fun of replacing a license were leaving a pit in my stomach. The manager at the store had nothing in the safe, the carts inside and out were empty, the pharmacist at the neighboring CVS had nothing but empathy that almost brought the tears that were burning the back of my eyelids.
I know what you are you thinking and I agree, it’s just a wallet, everything can be replaced. As I exited the store the pharmacist shouted “you’ll find it, I’ll say a prayer for you”. And I admit I was not only praying, but shamelessly invoking the karma of yesterday’s “good deed” of buying the Grinch some muffins.
Buying the Grinch Some Muffins…
The story within the story is my sighting of an elderly gentleman wearing this hat and a pair of red fleece Grinch pajama bottoms while shopping yesterday. When I saw him I laughed and thought I hope I age into the type of person who will go out dressed like this! At the checkout he came up behind me with just one item, a bag of muffins, the person behind him had let him go ahead and when I saw him up close, I thought, he is not smiling, maybe he is the Grinch. Maybe he is not well or those muffins are going somewhere special, whatever the reason I went with the impulse to add them to my order. The clerk looked confused and the Grinch seemed a bit stunned, so I simply said “I like your outfit, it made me laugh today, I would like to buy you these muffins.” He said, sure but didn’t smile. The clerk rang them up and he left with a quick thanks. Perhaps the outfit was not meant to be funny but a measured warning to all that Christmas was not his thing. Nevertheless, the woman behind me laughed and said “good job” as I exited the store and I felt the pay it forward happiness I desperately need this time of year.
Vacillating between the shame of expecting good karma to follow my last purchase, and the hope that it put me in St. Anthony’s good graces, I returned to the Stop & Shop one more time. The clerk from yesterday had just arrived on shift and she said, “I remember you, you bought the Grinch some muffins, but no, you didn’t leave your wallet at my register.” A call to the police and look through the registers and carriages sent me back to my car and into the path of a longtime fellow Mom and friend, Anne. Anne swooped in like any Mom helping a distressed child, she insisted on looking under the seats of my car (a place no one should be looking for anything right now) all the while dismissing my embarrassed pleas that my car is a mess.
After 10 minutes of fruitless searching, Anne declared that I had not lost the wallet. “I’m not feeling that it’s gone, go back to your house and look again.” Something told me she was right, through the absolute pit in my stomach I started to believe “it has to be somewhere I haven’t looked before” one of my mother’s favorite, albeit irritating, mantras. On the way home, I prayed but it actually sounded a bit more like begging and I felt guilty for making this a priority problem.
Another half an hour of retracing my steps, I was ready to call the credit card companies, when the Grinch told me to go upstairs and check the closet. I had dumped out the bag of stocking stuffers on my bed (ground I had covered already in my search) but I returned to the closet where the other presents were stored in bags in the back. The Grinch said turn around and look on the floor, on the opposite side of the closet, under the bottom the shelf. In the far back corner, where it must have skidded after falling from my pocket yesterday, lay my Grinch colored wallet.