Yesterday after church, I stopped at the local Large Chain Bookstore to use one of my gift cards, and when I opened up my small billfold, it seemed strangely light. I realized that I had a twenty dollar bill and a few ones and that they were no longer in my billfold. Also, one of my credit cards was missing. I went through my billfold and found everything else that was supposed to be there -- was there.
I felt strangely unsettled the rest of the day. I looked through a few pockets and an extra bag I carry and didn't find anything. I remembered as well a couple of odd things about my office at church -- when I returned to my office after church, the door was locked but ajar, and there was a stray quarter on my desk, and another on the floor. I thought that was odd.
This morning, I called the the credit card company, and they informed me that there was no activity on the card. So maybe I had just mislaid the money and the card. It's been known to happen.
At about 5:00, though, I got a phone call. Someone had used my card at a gas station. That's what they do nowadays. To buy gas, you don't need an I.D. or even a signature. So I cancelled the card, and now I'm depressed. I keep telling myself, it's just a little bit of money. And then another part of me says, yeah, but every little bit helps. And I also hear my mother's voice, saying, You should be more careful with your things. So, along with everything else, I also feel a deep sense of shame.
This isn't the first time this has happened to me. Not long after I moved here, someone stole my billfold (which at that time contained my checkbook) and actually used two checks at a grocery store. This was also at church, while I was at an evening meeting. Another time, I was attending a church dinner, and someone stole my entire purse. Someone found it later in a nearby park. And yet another time (actually Christmas Eve two years ago) my credit cards were stolen during the Sunday morning service. I got a call the day after Christmas from the fraud department. I hadn't even realized they were gone.
While on internship, my billfold was stolen one day at the church I worked at. At that time, my biggest worry was actually my Drivers License. The good news in that case was that the police found my billfold and I eventually got it back.
And lest you think that this is just a church thing, I never had one problem with theft in all the years I spent in rural South Dakota. I also never had a problem while in college or Seminary. Not one. I did have small amounts of money stolen from my purse sometimes when I worked at a small office in downtown Minneapolis.
It all goes back, though, to the 8th grade: that year, my parents gave me my allowance and my lunch money every week, and for a few weeks in a row, someone stole the money from my purse, until I learned my lesson. Seems in some ways, I still haven't.
I ask you, why can't I take better care of my things?