Sharon is an Asian-American content creator based in Austin.


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The Bearable Lightness of Losing My Wallet

Because I have an overabundance of reusable grocery bags, I absolutely refuse to buy any plastic bags at the cashier. I'm so incredibly stubborn about this that if I forget my bags, I will purposely not buy things that I can't carry out in my arms in addition to anything requiring the use of a shopping cart. For example, one time, I refrained from buying a case of Topo Chico because I had more than four other items I wanted to get, and no cart nor bags. Other times, I clip them under my arms, stack them, wrap my arms around them, hold them against my body, and in some cases, balance them on my car before getting inside. Call it what you will.

A few days ago I stopped by HEB to get some groceries in the same fashion as other urban young professionals after a particularly long day of work and, an hour later, realized that I did not have my wallet.

* * * 

After dinner, I planned to ride my bike around the neighborhood. As you know, I reduce my portable items at this time and wondered where my ID was. Surely my wallet was in the car! But upon checking, it was not. In my purse, still? I reached in and maneuvered around a journal, pens, lipstick, and felt the silky floor of the purse. Not there. I went through the motions of walking into the home, placing my purse on the table, tossing my keys, and stepping around the dogs. I checked the kitchen again, where I had previously cut up mushrooms and broccoli half an hour before, anticipating that I may have placed it at the side of the counter.

No wallet to be found, yet I oddly did not feel nervous. Why? Because I suspected that I knew what had happened.

This particular day, I grabbed significantly more groceries because of this reason: during my last visit home, my mom let me borrow her large bucket bag. This large accessory is amazing. It holds large bags of chips and whole loaves of bread, yet is deceivingly fashionable, so I used it to my advantage to pick up raw fish, some deli meat, and other various vegetables.

I remember beginning to file in groceries into the bucket bag in the process of paying when I must have picked up everything but my wallet. It was a long day.

My roommate approached the bar counter and picked up my receipt, folded in half after prepping dinner. "Give them a call."

Have you called a grocery store before? If it's a large multi-department store, sitting through all of the available department options requires a bit of patience, and that's if you make it past listening to the store hours for the weekdays, Saturday, and Sunday. If the system is comprehensive, you should be able to press "0", but that hasn't always been the case for me. I've called HEB only once before to inquire about empty boxes in a distant season of moving. They do, but only at odd hours of the night, which is relatively pointless because there is no such thing as "up late" to a typical college student. It was a while ago.

I was connected immediately and explained my predicament, as well as the color-blocking of the wallet and my name. "Yes, it's here," the voice said over the phone.

* * * 

Around 10 p.m. that evening, I drove to get it, waiting at a light and watching mad cyclists dash down Lamar with bright lights but without helmets. I thought about how I had shopped earlier on the way home to avoid a double trip, which I was taking anyway.

Inside HEB, I walked inside to find an empty info counter. After waiting for about half a minute with no one appearing, I tapped the closest employee on the shoulder and was greeted with a gray mustache and smiling panda stickers on his name tag.

"Hi, I called earlier about a wallet that I left at a cashier?" The man looked puzzled, obviously not the person I spoke with on the phone. "Name?" He walked promptly up to the info desk. I told him as he stepped behind the counter, adding,"It's brown and pink!"

Then, as he reached for the door next to the double-sided window, a peculiar thing happened.

The door swung opened before he even reached it. My wallet immediately appeared from behind the door, followed by the arm that was holding it, and then a red shirt and a familiar cashier that I had seen a few times. It seemed to happen in slow motion, and it was very bizarre.

Red shirt handed my wallet to panda stickers, who then passed it to me, giving me a polite nod. I walked out of the store, opening it to inspect its contents while almost manslamming a guy drinking a soda from a glass bottle. That's a story for another day. I drove home, past a divey karaoke bar, clearly closed but with teenagers sitting outside, unaware that I had just seen them a few minutes before.

Upon reaching home, I walked inside my room to toss my wallet on my desk. I was probably distracted by the paper-bagged wine.

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