“Ma’am?” the bus driver suddenly called out.
I hurried over to the front of the bus. The bus driver said, “They found it.”
I stuttered a thank you in my emotional state, tears streaming. And tried to describe what was inside the wallet as verification. The driver laughed and called out to my friends, “You can come get her now. I don’t know if I can handle this.”
I stumbled to an empty seat across from Jen and Michael. It is going to be ok. It is going to be ok. I felt that ironic wave of relief wash over me. If I hadn’t…only if I hadn’t…
I chatted socially with my friends—as if nothing had happened. I told stories of kidnapped toad and how I was always lucky when I lose things. Like the time I lost my keys, but it turned out to have fallen into the depths of my desk. The time I lost a $48 unused BART ticket that I found more than a year later under my rug. Things like that. How I was getting to a point in my life where I had to accept that I was naturally absent-minded. At least when it came to physical things.
The bus driver called out, “There” She pointed at a car outside, saying that was where the supervisor sat.
I prepared myself, ready to gush appreciation. Ready to lavish rewards to anyone who deserved it. Twenty dollars sounded about right. I rushed over to the car parked in the rain.
“Hi…the wallet…” I started and identified myself. “There’s a driver license with my name…it’s…”
She had rolled down her window and shook her head. She handed me my wallet. The fat black thing that I had missing for the last hour. Relief.
“Can I give the bus driver something?” I asked and looked inside the wallet.
“You can,” she said.
And there was nothing. Where I had stuffed wads of cash because I couldn’t fold the bills that well…there was nothing. I checked my other pocket where I had stuffed some folded singles. Nothing. I was in disbelief and said frantically, “There’s no cash!”
She seemed slightly ruffled, but I was not accusing her, “I had the wallet verified three times. A passenger handed to the driver who gave it to me.”
Never had cash been taken from me, so deliberately. I felt suddenly dirty, so taken advantage of, so cheated. I mumbled thanks and was distraught. Back on the bus, the driver asked me what happened. I said my thanks and said that my cash was taken, but that I really appreciated her help and her patience.
“I am sorry…I thought we could have a happy ending,” she said and closed the bus door.
A few tears dribbled off my face, as my friends assured me that…at least…at least my wallet was back. In some way, I knew that this was the best of luck. All my credit cards were there. Even my BART tickets and my DC pass which only had $1.35. All my frequent flier cards, my other blockbuster cards, my health insurance cards…still there. All that was taken was the cash. Those green things that meant value to something.
Around $100, I think, was lost. Many of it singles because of my attempt to use up $20s so that I could go dutch easily. I did spent money earlier that day at the frozen custard place and fojol brothers. But I had made myself use my amex everywhere else so that cash wouldn’t be taken so easily.
I complained that I felt defiled…that I wanted to get a new wallet. The wallet that was almost 10 years old and I had disliked the moment I got it. We arrived back at Marvin, the bus driver apologized again. She said she was writing up an incident report and I gave her some details. Jen and I thanked her profusely again.
Although I sulked for the rest of the evening, I held it in. We spent an hour at a nearby lounge since Marvin’s kitchen closed, 2 hours at a nearby bar where the bartender eventually made me Paradise Punch because he noticed that I drank only water, a guy wearing a DEA cap tried to buy me a drink, and we sauntered across U street to find that a nineties party was closed…and my friends paid for a cab all the way back…where I collapsed on a futon on the floor…talking on skype to Chris in California…