Work occasionally sends me away from Motown, and such was the case a couple of weeks ago (nudge/hint to people inclined to wonder about my blogging frequency of late).
I was gone for a full week--a real rarity--but it was something that had to be borne. Since I know Chicago about as well as the topography of Mars, I was cabbed about a lot. Returning to my hotel room on Tuesday evening, I looked forward to dinner and an early sleep. Waiting for the elevator, I arranged my things and grabbed for my hotel key card.
Hmm. Wallet's not in that pocket.
Cue the Wallet Search Macarena--slapping from pocket to pocket until it's found. Very arhythmically, but there you go.
By pocket slap five, I'm starting to develop a nervous tic. Lather, rinse, repeat. No wallet.
It probably fell out in the cab--no worries. I'll just call the cab company using the receipt.
Receipt's basically illegible, with the only recognizable sections saying "Cab Transportation."
I sprint to the service desk of the hotel for some help. Any help. Help! The nice lady behind the counter helped me as much as she could, but Smudge Taxicab was not one she was familiar with.
"Maybe they ran the charge, and you can call your credit card company to find out who it is?"
Great--and clever advice. After struggling to get a good contact number, I called the card company. To quote Mr. Spiccoli: No shirt, no shoes--No Dice.
Hadn't been run yet. But at least they could cancel the card before any damage was done and send me a new one before I checked out of the hotel three days hence.
Which was a start--but I was still without ID. Try to enter any major buildings today without an ID? Can't recommend it. In fact, I was facing the fact I couldn't even get back into my hotel room.
The head of security greeted me, and quizzed me about the contents of my room. We went up to the floor, and he entered the room--carefully shooing me away so I couldn't cheat.
He exited the room, a clear and rising note of exasperation in his voice: "Now, listen Mister..."
I cut him off quickly, and pointed out something I had just noticed: "We're on the 18th floor." At the outset, I had told my room was on the 21st.
Instant mollification: "Oh. Guess that would do it."
We get to the 21st, and after a thorough examination, he said "All right--you check out. By the way, you're going to need to make a police report so you can get on the plane to leave town."
I thanked him, and settled in with the prospect of being stuck in the room, unable to do the work I was in town to do, being sans ID. But at least I was in my room, and ran an internet search for all of the cab companies in Chicago, hoping to find something from Smudge.
There are a lot of cab companies in the Windy City. Defeat.
In despair, I called my wife, eager to hear a sympathetic voice. I finally get through, and we talk for a little while, but not long, as she's driving home with the kids. She'll call when she gets back home.
Ten minutes later she calls back, lottery-winning excitement in her voice:
"CHUCK FROM BLOCKBUSTER CALLED!! HE KNOWS WHERE YOUR WALLET IS!"
As in, yes, Blockbuster Video. She then rattled off a contact number for Chuck, whom I mentally surnamed Easily The Greatest Human Being Walking Our Planet.
But the phone number was odd--it was a home (for us) area code, not a Chicago number.
I shrugged it off--perhaps Chuck was a clairvoyant. I called.
Chuck picked up the phone--yes, he knew about my wallet. And yes, Chuck worked at the Blockbuster nearest our home. How did he know about my wallet?
As it turns out, Chuck had been contacted by a woman named Kristi, who had found my wallet and called him. Chuck gave me her number.
Two orders of bafflement magnitude then became three--Kristi also had a Michigan area code. Never mind. This was good bafflement.
I thanked Chuck profusely, falling just short of offering to name a hypothetical son after him. Charles is a sound boy's name, though...
I call Kristi's number.
A pleasant voice answers and says--Yes! I have your wallet! In Chicago!
She'd found it on the street, walking around with her daughter after visiting the American Girl store on the Magnificent Mile. She'd be delighted to turn it over to a fellow Michigander! Her family's hotel was about a mile away.
I ran an internet map and walked over without incident. By the way, some advice--avoid walking unaccompanied on Columbus Drive at night--it seems like a bad call. The fact I was disheveled, big and moving with a purpose probably helped.
I reached the hotel and met Kristi, who turns out to live in an Oakland County suburb with her children and husband. She saw the wallet sitting there, opened it up and decided she had to get in touch with the poor guy from her home state who had to be in full freakout mode (yep!). She didn't want to fish through the wallet, so she pulled my Blockbuster card and used that to contact me.
Really? Really. We also talked about daughters and the American Girl store, including my Rachel's recent purchase of Lanie. Not so BTW, the American Girl store would be an easy place to go bankrupt.
I thanked her profusely (Kristi's a good name for a girl, too--but we have a Christina, after all) and floated back to my hotel, praising God's providence and the good-heartedness of complete strangers.
I'm also going to Blockbuster and pricing wallet chains.