My daughter lost her wallet yesterday. She got on the city bus in front of our building, so she knew she had her wallet then, because she used her Metrocard (what we use in NYC to board public transportation) to get on the bus. When she got to school, she went to get her ID, and realized the wallet was missing. To belabor the point, she lost between getting on bus and getting to school.
When she realized she lost her wallet, she called me. I could hear agony in her voice, it was low and as soon as she started to talk, she began to cry. She didn’t understand how she could lose it. When you’re an ultra responsible kid who has never lost anything other than a water bottle (which she does lose a lot for some reason) this was devastating.
And while I tried to console her, I knew that practicality had to come out. “What was in your wallet?” I knew she had a credit card and a debit card. I snapped my fingers to get my Husbands attention. “Daughter lost her wallet. Cancel the Visa, I’ll do the debit card.” I got off the phone with my daughter, telling her she had to go to the main office and tell them she lost her school id. Why I needed to explain to a reasonably smart person that someone could use her ID to enter the school fraudulently is beyond me. She didn’t want to do this- she kept saying that someone would surely find her wallet. I said it would be great if they did, but everything had to be canceled and places had to be notified that her ID might be compromised. This went on by text way too long, till I told her it had to be done.
So my daughter was embarrassed to have lost her id. I get that, but I also know that people are human and mistakes are made. I also told her she could have been pickpocketed. I wanted to race up the 52 blocks to her school and hug her, but a Mom can’t always be right there to physically comfort a child. Sometimes the kid has to learn how to self sooth.
I then received a whole bunch of texts asking me to contact the MTA at 11 when the lost and found opened. She was positive that her wallet would be found and turned in, all contents still inside. She gave me the bus route, the time she got it- I’m surprised she didn’t have the driver and bus id. Her optimism was impressive. My pessimism was equally impressive. I explained to her that the wallet was small, and would probably not be found. Also, the Metropolitan Transport Association is not really known for its blazingly good customer service. Just ask anyone who has been stuck on a train for 45 minutes.
At 11 I called. After 25 minutes of trying to find the right department, it turned out I had to fill out an online form to document the loss. Which I did. Oh, the detail and general backasswardness of this report. They asked for brand of wallet- they had no choice for piece of shit wallet she bought at TJ Maxx for 3.99. You have to list every item that was in the wallet. Credit card. Debit card. NYC Parks tennis pass. School id. Brandi Melville gift card. American Eagle gift card. Regular metrocard. School issue metrocard. Sticker from Brandi Melville. (to tell you the truth- I was really impressed that she knew exactly what was in her wallet- not really surprised, but impressed none the less) All this, when she wasn’t getting her wallet back.
Now of course, because I had spent 45 minutes of my life that I would never get back filling out a lost property claim, her wallet was found. Husband got a call. Wallet was dropped off at a branch of the bank which issued the credit card inside. Great.
Texted daughter. Everyone is happy.
Here’s the thing. My daughter just assumed the wallet would be found and turned in. This girl has grown up a few blocks from a methadone clinic, and has seen people at the bottom of their luck, trying to quell an addiction that has destroyed their life. She has seen people lying on the streets, passed out from drink. She was seen people sleeping in the vestibule of the bank, homeless people showering in the sprinkler at the playground. She knew a girl who died trying to jump from one building to another. She knew a girl in her 7th grade class that got pregnant. She has had friends who knew kids who committed suicide. She has seen on a daily and routine basis how crappy life can be for others. Yet- she has hope.
Well, she has spent the past 3 years as a volunteer tennis coach at a program for inner city youth. Shas spent the past 3 years as a tutor at a program for kids with no resources for extra help. She tries to make life a little better for others. One Saturday morning a month she gets up at 630 on a Saturday, and chops vegetables and sets out cutlery at a soup kitchen. When she exits the church basement after prep is done, I know it still shocks her how many people are lined up for that one meal. She has sat next to children who are wearing coats and gloves and hats, and carrying backpacks that me, and other parents have given the school to distribute to families that need just a little help. This is what gives her a little bit of optimism- she sees people trying to do the right thing. She tries to do the right thing.
Will she always think that the good nature of people will prevail? I hope so. But it’s hard- because as stated, sometimes life sucks.
Now, my daughter is happy that wallet was turned in, most things still there. Someone did swipe her two metrocards, and she was annoyed that the equivalent of 20$ was lost/stolen. She wants to recreate how she actually lost her wallet, to the point she asked me how she could access the security cameras on the streets. Seriously.
I told her that between her 40 pound backpack, purse, and big tote bag she had to lug around yesterday, it’s easy to get distracted. She tries to fit a thousand things into a little tiny purse, and I explained that when you have so much stuff it’s real easy for something to fall out while retrieving something else. She has this delusion that she is perfect and completely aware of everything at all times. Maybe this will teach her a lesson that she is indeed fallible.
So what’s the moral of this story? People are generally good. There is a cause for some optimism. But we must always be pragmatic.