So. How do I put this lightly…Ah, yes.
My wallet was stolen.
That’s literally the only thing of note that’s really happened since my last post. I did go to Ghent, Belgium which was beautiful and I’m heading to Paris this weekend. But I’d like to cover this before I write a post about the happy stuff.
I’d just like to say, before we start, that I am a reasonably well-organized person. Those who have lived with me outside of my family know I am always prepared. Once, when I was living in D.C. the first time, my roommate Amber said to me, “Nicolette if there were an earthquake and the building fell apart, you would be the only one with a tent.” I keep everything I need with me at all times, especially when I’m traveling. You’ll remember my 21 travel tips from earlier? You don’t have to re-read them, but just remember that I wrote an entire post dedicated to traveling smartly and safely. Maybe that’ll make reading this just that much more ironic.
Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?
I’d had a hard week this week. One of my professors had assigned me a 20-minute presentation in French about women in European politics since 1945. When I sent her my carefully crafted 2200 word first draft, she took her sweet time to get back to me. Granted, it was long. But she did not have to email me the day before the due date to tell me it was all wrong and that I had to start over and had I even done any research?
I looked from that email to the Kindle e-book I had bought specifically for this topic. And I had to tell her I was forced to drop the class. I didn’t need it anyway, I was taking too many credits. Plus, now I have Fridays off!
Which brings us to the night in question. It was a Thursday night, last night, just after I had sent that email and cleared my schedule for the next day. My friends wanted to go salsa dancing, and I was not going to miss a chance to hang out with my friends, especially since I never get to see them during the week. I got gussied up and went out with my Russian friend around 9.
Cut to about four hours later. It’s 1 AM, we’ve lost track of time, we’ve missed the metro, we’re standing in the cold and calling an Uber. I took out my wallet to update the payment information on my Uber app. We had both had had some alcohol, because we are both of age and had no classes the next day. But we were both very aware of the fact that I had placed my wallet in my front coat pocket and that the Uber was two minutes away. I kept my hand on my pocket as we walked up the street to meet the Uber. We saw the car waiting for us when we got to the corner, so I lifted my hand to signal to him. He called my phone and I answered it, but he’d already hung up because he’d seen my signal.
The Uber driver had arrived a minute early, so it was sixty seconds from the bar to the inside of the Uber.
In that sixty seconds, my wallet was stolen.
I realized it was gone about 15 seconds after we got into the Uber and I checked my pockets, as I do routinely when I’m out and about. I of course immediately noticed it was gone, because it’s a large pocketbook, like a clutch kind of wallet. We made the very kind Uber driver turn around. We went back to the street where we had waited for the Uber. We checked the streets, elbowing people aside and apologizing in French. We didn’t go back into the club; we knew I had had my wallet after I had walked away from it, down the street. And by this point, it was about 1:30 and we were both exhausted and a little dehydrated. We stumbled back into the Uber, but not before tearing that apart, too. For those of you who will ask, yes, I did check my coat.
I called my parents and we set up a game plan in the Uber. The nice Uber driver gave me some advice in broken English. We arrived at the residence safely.
But my troubles were not over.
In my wallet, I had my residence card. That’s the card you have to have to scan to get into the building where I live. That’s now gone. My Russian friend, trusting me to have been responsible with my wallet, had not brought hers with her. So we were locked out of the residence hall. At this point, it was after 2 AM. We called everyone we knew, but nobody picked up because, why would they? It was 2 AM on a Thursday night.
We had been standing outside the residence for about ten minutes when a window opened. A young man poked his head out. “Do you need help?” he asked in French. We laughed, explained what had happened, and thanked him over and over again. He came to the door, and opened it. “You actually can’t come in,” he said, holding back a laugh. “I’m not allowed to let you.” After he realized we hadn’t caught on to the joke, he let us in. Honestly, I have never felt warmer or safer than I did when I entered the residence after the night that I had just had.
I thanked the man again, bade my Russian friend goodnight, and went upstairs to make some phone calls.
I called my dad, and we set up Apple Pay. I called my debit card company and had my card cancelled and ordered a new one, expedited. I froze my credit card account online. I counted up my cash and I made a list of things to do the next day— report the theft of my passport card and file a police report. As of today, I have done one of those two things because the police station is far away and, as any good Southerner knows, the first thing you have to do when something bad happens is to buy provisions.
So the total count of things that were stolen are as follows:
One (1) wallet that was a gift from my brother
One (1) passport card, not my official passport book but just as valuable
One (1) driver’s license, the thing I miss the most because of all it represents
Two (2) credit cards, one of which was my parents’
One (1) debit card, a new one I’d ordered after my old one had fraudulent purchases on it
One (1) Agnes Scott student ID
One (1) Aetna insurance card, easily replaceable from the internet
One (1) residence card
Twenty (20) euros in cash
Five (5) American dollars, to show off to my European friends
One (1) folded green post-it note list of all the classes I have to take until I graduate, a talisman
One (1) little blue ribbon, taken from the fake diploma I ripped up when I played Frenchy in Grease in high school
What I’m upset about is not that the wallet was stolen. It’s that I was dumb enough to let it happen. And that I’m more vulnerable now. And that I won’t be able to drive when I come home, and that I have not been without a license in seven years and without identification, I feel like less of a person. And that I can’t replace the only memento I kept from my musical theater days, which were some of the happiest of my life.
I know it’s just stuff. The new cards will come in the mail and I’ll have almost everything replaced in six months. But you can’t fix feeling exposed. It’s like being in a nightmare where you come to school without your pants, except the school is a crowded desert island and you’re completely naked.
I know there’s no reason to dwell on it too much, but it’s still pretty fresh so I’ll do what my mom taught me to do, which is to take some time to feel however I need to feel and then get up and move on. For now, I have never wanted to go home so much in my entire life. And tomorrow, I will get up and move on. To the police station, specifically, but also emotionally.
But I’ve learned a pretty important lesson: don’t put everything that’s important to you in one place. Which, if you think about it, is just another way to say, “Spread the love.”