You know that feeling, don’t you? The one where you open your purse to where your credit card always sits, safety tucked away. The place where you put it back every time you have used it? A ritual that is so much a habit that you perform it without even thinking, until that time when you open the purse and the sleeve where your credit card normally sits is empty.
Yeah, me too.
It was Day One of Week Two as I headed down the last 400 meters of road towards my office building. Week Two of a time I like to call, ‘Easy Streets’ because the traffic load has pretty much been halved by school holidays. Rather than inch my way swearing and sweating towards the office, I glide along wide, empty boulevards waving at cyclists and dog-walking pedestrians, a feeling of bonhomie in my heart. So it was today, until I was about 50 meters from the entrance to the secure car park for work.
I took my left hand off the wheel to lift up the lid of the centre console where I keep my car park and office pass. It is on a wide lanyard, so I can usually locate and grab it without even looking down. Fumbling around, however, I could not feel the familiar ribbon to grab hold of. Odd. Rather than risk taking my eyes off the road for too long, I pulled in to the side of the road just opposite the car park entrance to find it. Looking into the console, though only revealed one thing: that the pass was definitely not there.
Still why take the evidence before your very eyes as valid, especially when it does not suit your narrative of a stress-free morning? I pulled out CDs and petrol receipts until the console was absolutely bare: no pass.
Frantically, I traced back in my mind to the last time I had used it, Friday. Had something been different? Yes, my routine had slightly changed but not enough for me to do something completely goofy with my pass. I had left work early and gone to a meeting off-site. The meeting had finished early, but rather than come all the way back to work, I kept going and got home a little earlier for once. Maybe I had done something weird and put it in my rucksack, which I took to the meeting?
This was Monday’s rucksack though, so it was full of bananas and health snacks that I would ignore all week and then eat on Friday in a desperate attempt to counterbalance all the chocolate I had stuffed down during the previous days. I heaved the bag up onto my lap and unzipped the pockets, but even as I did so could not shake the impression that I had not put the pass in there.
What had I done? Had I thrown it down on the dining room table? I tried to picture the table as I got my bag ready for work this morning. All I could see was a pile of bananas and packets of nuts. Emptying my thoroughly overstuffed rucksack, my suspicions were confirmed: 1. The pass was not in there and 2. I pack more for food a week at work than Reece Witherspoon did in that film about going on a long trek.
I had to face it, my pass was gone. Somewhere my smiling face was beaming out of a white plastic card, possibly into the eyes of a stranger. Dammit. I made a decision and swung my car into a visitor bay outside the boom gates of the carpark. I would have to call my colleague in the office, hope that she would already be there and ask het to let me in so I could go and negotiate a loan pass in order to navigate the stairwells and lift buttons of our building.
I hopped out, thinking I would just check under the driver’s seat. I opened the back passenger door and leaned down. There was nothing under the seat, but a clunk caught my attention. I looked down. My office pass had hit the running board of the car door cavity swinging, as I bent down, from its lanyard that had been around my neck the whole time.
It is going to be a great week.