My pocketbook was stolen on Thursday morning.
I was at fault; the owner provides the first layer of security and I admit I left it on the seat in the pediatrician’s waiting room unsupervised. That was a dumb thing to do in a town with a high number of desperate heroin addicts.
So. My story begins on Wednesday, as I prepared for the monthly dinner and discussion of our fellowship group we call TWIG. I forget exactly what all the letters stand for, but I do know we made a mistake when we coined it the “Third Wednesday Something Group.” We meet on fourth Wednesdays. We can’t call it FWIG What is a fwig? At least we can say we are twigs from the vine. No one has come up with a better name so we keep it and laugh at ourselves.
As we took turns around the table telling the group what we were dealing with these days, I was touched and encouraged by the tenacious faith of two fellows in particular. I used to be like that; but I “have sinned and grown old”* and those days seem long ago. I have faith, don’t get me wrong, but it is like having title to a property I do not visit.
So, in my Thursday morning devotions, I was open to hear from God when I read in Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD.” It goes on with the metaphor of a tree planted by a stream so that even in times of drought it is watered, green, and fruitful. So I knew that I would take every opportunity to place my trust in the Lord that day, not putting my trust in my wits or any other ‘savior’.
So a few hours later when Abe and I came back to pediatrics from the x-ray department and realized my pocketbook was gone, I didn’t have a fit. As a parent I know the experience of taking my child into situations he finds uncomfortable, and asking him to trust me. It is like taking a toddler in a sled down a snowy slope for the first time. “It is going to be all right!” I am that child. I will not whimper. This is small stuff to my heavenly Father.
The police came for a report. The building manager came and we pored over the video stills. My pocketbook was on my shoulder when I got off the elevator; it was missing when I entered it again to get that x-ray. She looked for anyone leaving the building with it, but it could easily have gone out in a baby bag.
My car keys were in the bag. Actually, the keys for two cars were stolen, because I had the Honda set in there too. And I was astonished to learn when I went to the dealer to get a key cut that the car needs to be there in order for them to program the key to the car. And that meant two tows: the Dodge one mile to the dealer in Springfield, but the Honda 40 miles from my house to Keene.
Did you know these keys cost about $200 to replace? Fortunately, for much less you can get a no frills version without the clicker. No more opening the doors from afar to astonish and delight the uninitiated.
So, I spent the rest of Thursday setting this up and contacting my bank and my credit card companies. Did you know Google is tracing your travels by watching where your phone goes? StraightTalk wouldn’t locate my phone, but Google did. My son John saw that it never left the office, and was turned off or tossed in the river shortly after it was taken.
So, Friday morning I met the tow truck, driven by a wise old man who looked like he could have been captain of a lobster boat. He left me at Kelley Sales and Service and went off to get the Honda. After a while the service manager came to the waiting room and told me the Dodge had a dead electronic something something something and wouldn’t talk to the key. I got a ride home with a neat salesman, the old fashioned kind that really wants to serve (I would buy a car from him), and came upon the tow truck finishing up the challenge of getting my Honda caravan onto his huge flatbed in a not-so-huge space. Good thing my garden was frozen.
Alone at home again, I called Honda to let them know a car was being towed to them. (Meanwhile, my boys are working through their lines of Caesar translation without me.) That’s when I learned they would not cut a key until I showed up in person to prove my identity. I had no car and I had no driver’s license. Actually, I had two cars: a 1951 International that Grandpa built and just might make it all the way to Keene and back without a breakdown (but is registered, inspected, and insured), or the 2000 Dodge caravan that runs well but is none of those things.
I called a friend who is an artist and works at home. She volunteered immediately and needed to go to Keene anyway.I brought my birth certificate and marriage license which I still had in the house after renewing my Vermont driver’s license a couple of months ago. They fixed the car and got me on the road again. I lingered in the Big Town to shop for a pocketbook and wallet.
Meanwhile, the bad guys attempted to get $6300 from my checking account. Twice. The account is flagged so nothing is going to happen without scrutiny. I just happened to know the last two check numbers I wrote and their amounts so we put a block on the checks in my wallet. No activity occurred on my credit cards. They didn’t come back and take the Dodge, which they could have done by driving slowly through the parking lot and clicking the door-unlock button. It could have been a lot worse.
Since my phone, for my convenience, is not locked with a password, the thief had access to my gmail and other apps. A few hours after the purse was taken, I left $40 with the receptionist of the orthodontist, and sent an email to my phone with “Please return my pocketbook” in the subject and saying they could have it if they returned it and the phone, no questions asked. It could have worked! But we now think they got rid of the phone shortly after they took it.
Lots of this troubles me. Someone has intimate details of our family life and finances. They know where we live. The cost of this comes at a bad time, when I had already gone over budget for February. (That was for our anniversary getaway and I don’t regret a thing!) It took two days out of a particularly busy week: FAFSAs are due March 1 for scholarships eligibility and I still needed to do taxes for some of the kids. And I have several lessons to prepare for subbing.
Every time I thought about these things, I “preached to my soul”, remembering that I can trust Him. This is small thing for God! He is willing and able to walk me through this.
“Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him,” says Job.
He is worthy.
*G.K.Chesterton: quotation from Orthodoxy
I am not at all sure that I could have handled this situation with anything like the aplomb you have demonstrated. However, the Lord knows what we can handle, doesn’t He? I praise Him for sustaining you through this with such grace…and for preparing you in advance!
I admit I did have to stay strictly away from thoughts of exactly what was in that pocketbook for fear I would lose my cool. But when I was finally home and able to do so, I continued to experience a sense of the Lord’s presence and benevolence. We have such a privileged position in Him!
Note, it turns out the bad guys were not responsible for the transaction of $6300. It had to do with my preparation to fund our IRA. Bad guys did nothing. They were probably after my health insurance cards, a friend tells me.