Yesterday someone stole my wallet.
I am not sure when or where it happened, exactly. My company had an offsite after-work event, and I noticed the loss after I had parked in a garage near the venue. Annoyed, I first assumed I’d left it behind in my office. I walked to the event, borrowed $10 to pay the parking fee, watched people play in a pool tournament, ate sliders, drank wine, and prepared to end my night inconvenienced.
Then I decided I had to return to the office, just to check. As I waited for the 7pm parking rules to pass – so I could leave my car on the street and scoot into the building – my phone rang. American Express, notifying me of questionable charges at two gas stations.
And so it began.
I took care of all the stuff, the credit alert, canceling cards, and so on. That took all of an hour or two. But I feel disturbed still.
People who have experienced real crime report a far more intense version of my reaction. By real crime, I mean violence, of person or house. I lost a blue wallet from Barneys and something like $100. That’s it so far and I hope will be the end of the matter. Thank you credit bureaus, card companies, bank chat support.
But at the emotional level theft is about the loss of trust. Trust, of all kinds, allows us to build an imagined world that extends us in time, space, or identity. When trust is broken, it’s not the event itself that hurts most. It’s the rupture of all previous assumptions about rules of the system. Whether that system be sidewalks, marriages, or fundamental personal safety.
I trusted the people of San Francisco, those humans who bustle down my little rectangle of city blocks, eat tacos, and take the occasional bus. Trust allowed me to navigate in a bubble. An unzipped purse wouldn’t matter in my bubble. Pop.
It’s not a big deal. I was careless because I’m a Pollyanna. My bubble involved a refusal to live with a sense of threat, and that’s dumb, in a city.
But other people suffer from much more serious breakages of trust. They aren’t living in bubbles, they are just trying to make their way. I find myself thinking about those of you who have endured infidelity, violence, betrayal, and this makes me feel all the more privileged, oddly. I also find myself hoping that the person or people who have my money, and bought some goods at gas stations, were nice. Or deprived, and maybe now they feel a little abundance.
Pollyanna die hard, I suppose.
One last thing. This morning I got an email, to my blog address. Someone, identified only as ShyB, found my driver’s license and some other cards, and is mailing them to the address they found on my license. I am torn between an impulse towards gratitude, and worry. I’m going to go with gratitude.
Thanks, ShyB. As my mother says, A Simple Thank You Will Suffice. But let’s look out for those unable to return to a place of gratitude after harm. The capacity to thank, to come out believing that things will probably be OK, is in and of itself a privilege.
Have a wonderful weekend.