Friday, June 1, 2012

Had I The Art to Stun Myself

Things look a little different, huh? Well, here's the new beginning. If you've ever wondered, the URL (and now title) of this blog come from an Emily Dickinson poem that you can read here.

I stunned myself today. But it wasn't very artful.

It was a long Friday. A last-minute phone call at the office meant I didn't get out of there until almost 5:30, and time had stopped at around 3. As I drove home, all I could think about was how much I was looking forward to crawling in bed and indulging in a lazy Friday night.

But on the way there, I decided to run into Wal-mart to pick up a few things. I hate the Wal-mart by my house. Hate. It's cramped, dim, noisy, and everyone there-- employee or customer-- is cantankerous. It more closely resembles a bazaar in a third-world country than a convenient shopping location in Johnson County, Kansas. And today was no exception. The already-narrow aisles were teeming with rogue shopping carts and rambunctious children, and there wasn't an employee in sight to ask wheretheheckthelightbulbswere.

Finally, I had acquired my seven items and forged my way to the registers. The express line was five people deep, naturally, and all of them had interpreted the ten-item limit in a most creative way. After fifteen minutes of listening to the mother and children behind me bicker about the merits of Reese's cups vs. Kit-Kats, and a rousing, one-woman game of How Much of Demi Lovato's Picture on the Cover of Cosmopolitan Has Been Photoshopped, I was next.

The cashier scanned my items and read me the total in a tone that was as flat as her faded-dyed-red hair. I opened my wallet and instinctively grabbed the card behind my driver's license. But it was a Starbucks card, not my debit card. My face flushed and moisture sprang to my underarms as a rapidly shuffled through the rest of my cards. Nada. My panic drew the attention of the quibbling candy-buyers behind me, and their stares joined that of the cashier's. I raked my fingers through my bag-- nothing. "I can't find, I, I can't find--" I kept muttering-- "I can't find my debit card." I looked up at the cashier, who looked back at me with the same level of interest as one of those eyeless cave newts looks at the Mona Lisa. For a split second, the back of my brain prayed that someone would take pity on me and pay for my stuff. It didn't happen. "I have to leave," I said. "I'm sorry." The cashier said "'kay", rolled her eyes, and turned to scan the piles of candy on the belt.

As I rushed out of the store, shaky, sweaty, and panicky, I relived the past few hours in my head. I definitely used my card at the post office around 4:30. It wasn't in my pockets, bag, car, planner, or gym bag. It could only be in one of three places: the office, the mail slot at the post office, or alone and shivering in the gutters of Westport. A glance a the clock revealed that the bank would be closing in half an hour-- not enough time for me to go back to work, look, report the card missing, and visit the bank for a new one before the weekend hit.

The panic continued on the drive to the bank. I saw visions of bank statements replete with online gambling, subscriptions to Playboy, Affliction t-shirts, and the Cheesecake Factory.

But luckily, canceling the runaway card and obtaining a new one all happened without incident-- other than standing in miles-long lines again. While we waited for the new card to print, the bank lady and I made small talk. I told her about my saga in the tenth circle of Wal-mart, and she asked if I had a back-up card of any sort, for emergencies. "Yeah," I said. "I have a debit card linked to my account in Colorado."
I paused. "I think it's on my nightstand in my room."
She tilted her head a little farther.
"I don't know what kind of financial emergency I thought I'd have in my bedroom."

With a smile and the humiliating suggestion that I put my emergency card somewhere I could access it in an emergency, bank lady shook my hand and sent me all away.

To teach myself a lesson, I went to Wal-mart again, hunted down my items again, dodged toddlers again, stood in line again, and paid.

And that's why you never lose your debit card.

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