Let's start at the beginning. We had a lunch date with our friend Neil, and our friend Rose S-S. We had to pick up Neil, and I got out of our tiny car to let him in the back seat and also to help him load something into the hatch.
He was in the back seat, because we had to stop at the pharmacy to pick up one of my medications before we went to lunch, and it was easier for me to be in the front seat to get out and dash inside. All was well, until we got to the pharmacy; I looked around the car and my purse was nowhere to be seen. This was very noticeable because by purse, I mean "huge, shapeless black thing approximately the size of one of those things you drape across a camel's hump to carry your precious supplies of water." I've had it for years and it is normally attached to me whenever I leave the house. And by attached I mean "not quite nailed to my shoulder. Or my head."
"Well fuck. I can't believe it. I left my purse at home," I fumed. There were a few more "fucks," in the declaration. Bob and I looked at each other and both of us tried to recall the last time I'd managed to walk out of a place without my purse.
We both recalled a drive home from Minicon years ago, with our friend Dr. Gonzo. We had stopped in Janesville, WI, for supper, and we were some 40 or 50 miles south of Janesville when we realized my purse was missing. Back we went, hoping against hope that someone hadn't walked off with it. It was, by the by, not The Great Black Purse. It was another equally capacious thing, however. I don't do small purses.
There was nothing for it, of course, but to retrace our steps, back to fabled Janesville. The purse was safely recovered. To my relief, it had been handed over to the restaurant manager, and everything was still in it. We all breathed massive sighs of relief, climbed into the car and headed home. I swore I'd never do that again.
Until today. And, frankly, something felt wrong about our immediate assumption that I'd left it at home. Just as I don't do small purses, I haven't, not since Janesville, done Stupid Purse Tricks. So something uncomfortable itched at the back of my head. I put it out of mind while we had a lovely lunch, but by the time we pulled into our home parking lot, I was extremely uneasy.
And sure enough, the purse was not at home. I looked at Bob and the panic immediately started. My two bank cards. My driver's license. My new smart phone, which was increasingly important for my new work.
My green card.
I was snappish with terror, telling Bob to call our credit union and check that account balance, whilst I checked others. Nothing appeared to have been taken from our accounts, which was at least some relief, but I recognized the signs of immediate emotional collapse in myself -
"We've got a phone message," said Bob, looking at the blinking light on the telephone.
It was a lady from our insurance agency. Kim announced herself and said that Officer Frisbee (!) had called the insurance agency, asking them to contact me. He'd found my purse on the block where we'd picked up Neil, and where I must have inadvertently left it outside when I moved to let him in the back. He gave her his phone number and she left it in the message. I called, but there was no answer, and no voice mail (not unusual for cops, I've learned over my years of doing the police beat), but I knew which district we were in, the same district Neil's pickup was, so I called the station.
After some confusion, the officer on duty said that Officer Frisbee had gone off duty. But he checked, and the purse was there.
Just before we took off to go retrieve it, Kim from the insurance agency called again. We thanked her profusely, and when she gave us some extra information, like the fact that the officer told her he didn't want to have to try to break into my phone, which made things even better: the phone was still in the purse. That meant, most likely, that no one had rifled through it.
Once we got down to the station, the guy I'd talked to was still on duty. He went and got the purse and sure enough, everything was still there. I was rapturously grateful, and undoubtedly sounded goofily silly as I vocalized the rapture.
I know the officer was just doing his job. But I also know that a lot of officers don't do their jobs. He went the extra mile, calling our insurance agent instead of just dropping the purse off at headquarters and signing out for the day.
And yes, I know that the modern institution of policing, at least here in the western hemisphere, is inherently broken, flawed from the git-go, something I've come to realize all too late in life.
But in a flawed and broken institution, there can still be good individuals. So I'm taking this as a good day. Perhaps I'll bake brownies for Officer Frisbee and Kim.
And I didn't have to go back to Janesville, so there's that.