While out-of-town this weekend, I received a notification that my checking account was significantly overdrawn. About three seconds later, a security fraud specialist from my bank called to ask about suspicious activity related to my debit card number. Standing in the middle of an interactive science exhibit at a children’s museum, a chorus of, “Mommy, watch this!” echoing in the background, I listened as the woman on the other end of the line listed the fraudulent charges (the sum of which was all the money I had plus an additional $250) and described the process for getting my money back. She spoke with a calm voice while my heart started to pound ever so slightly. I asked and she answered several questions: Yes, we would get our money back, no, it wouldn’t be today or even this weekend but sometime next week, and yes, we would be reimbursed for any overdraft fees that occurred because of the theft. I ended the call, reassured that my debit card had been canceled so no further damage could be inflicted upon my now empty account.
I looked through the crowd for my husband, feeling a little frantic and sweaty, but not in a good way. I found him, delivered the bad news and then the better news that the problem was mostly solved. A quick pow-wow resulted in the agreement to use a credit card that we keep for emergencies – I guess this counts? – and we were back to climbing, exploring, and learning with the kids. Crisis averted.
There’s this special kind of anger I have; I call it The Low Simmer. It is triggered by events that involve blatant injustice or humans being unkind to one another. When the incident occurs, I’m relatively calm and cool. I take any necessary action and the thing wraps up and we all go on with the business of living. But once my brain gets the all clear signal that everyone is safe and there is nothing more I need to do, a switch is flipped and the low simmer begins. At this point, I begin to feel appalled. But not in the normal way that people feel appalled. I feel this kind of appalled in the very depths of my soul. My thoughts start an endless loop to the tune of, “How dare they! They had no right! What is wrong with people?” I have one-sided conversations in my head wherein I tell the other person off in a way they’ve never been told off before. I don’t get outwardly angry – no violence, no actual telling off of the offender (because in most cases the offender is unidentified or a stranger I’ll never see again). The anger just simmers on low for hours, days, sometimes weeks if the injustice was excessively unjust. Eventually I let it go, realizing that the person that caused the problem is not upset about it, so why should I be?
Back at the children’s museum, that little switch was flipped as I watched my kids put on hard hats and pretend they were construction workers. Here is the train of thoughts that took over my brain while I snapped pictures of the girls using a measuring tape more skillfully than their mother: “Ohmygod. We’re three hours from home and we have no money. Because some asshat stole it all and then some, because apparently it’s possible to steal money from me THAT I DON’T EVEN HAVE! How did this happen? That’s it, no more debit cards or online shopping, it’s just cash for me from now on. I’m going off the grid. BUT I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO DO THAT. If I ever find out who did this, I’m giving them a piece of my mind. I hope they got what they needed…”
And with that last thought, I found the answer to being able to let it go – maybe they did need it. My money might have helped them to solve a major problem in their life. I mean, probably not. Most likely, I had just purchased an Xbox One and a boatload of marijuana for some people I’ll never meet, but I was still thinking differently which is what I needed at the moment to stop the simmer.
Though I have zero say in the matter, I realized there are ways that someone could steal my money and use it that would cause me to be more forgiving. Mitigating circumstances, if you will.
What follows is a list of acceptable ways a thief could use my money and therefore incur less of my wrath should we ever meet:
- Buy the ingredients needed to make a Thanksgiving dinner for the local homeless shelter.
- Hire a professional to design and build a custom closet storage system. (Organization is more important to me than perhaps it should be.)
- Adopt all of the cats at the Humane Society to prevent them from being euthanized.
- Purchase food and litter for a bunch of cats recently adopted from the Humane Society.
- Fill a life-saving prescription for a family member that would otherwise be unattainable.
- Order Chinese takeout.
- Buy and donate a large collection of books to an underfunded elementary school in need of a library.
- Start a nonprofit national guinea pig rescue organization.
- Commission a Dwayne Johnson look-a-like as an escort to the office Christmas party.
- Open a yoga studio and name it “Get Bent.”
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you’re going to steal my money, you should spend it more responsibly than I would have. It’s the least you can do.