Afternoon sun shone benevolently on me. The King’s Singers harmonized from speakers all about me. Tires whirled away the miles beneath me.
What a beautiful day for a long drive alone! I rarely take solo trips, but I was en route to meet a friend in grief, four hours away, at a viewing. I had a full tank of gas and a good GPS. I planned to buy dinner along the way, and refill with gas for the drive home into the night.
About an hour from home, I saw one of the exits I needed to take. Wait, 76? I’m getting on a toll road? Why didn’t I realize there was a toll road? I never carry cash. What am I going to do?
I reached inside my purse for my wallet, to see, I suppose, if an angel had miraculously tucked a fifty into one of its pockets. I knew I hadn’t, sure as death and taxes.
That’s when I received my second newsflash.
My purse contained no wallet.
See Shari. See Shari panic. See Shari dig through the right pocket and the left pocket and the in between pocket. Still no wallet. And then I remembered. In preparation for a hike with my kids that morning, I’d transferred my wallet to my son’s backpack so I didn’t have to lug my purse up and down that ravine. And I’d forgotten. To put. It back.
I pulled into the V between the main road and the exit, unwilling to commit to going anywhere until I’d had a moment to recheck the plan. What am I going to do? Now I had not only a shortage of cash, but a complete absence of checkbook, debit card, driver’s license, ID. And I was an hour from home. Oh Lord, what am I going to do?
I called my husband Ryan. Honey, I have a problem. I prefer understatements in delicate times like this, but I think I may have gone as far as to say I have a big problem.
He is a good man in an emergency. He doesn’t judge, and he doesn’t freak out. I could hear him hitting keys on his computer, looking for options. I can go without dinner, I said heroically. Are there other routes I could take to avoid the toll road?
Uhhh, he said, searching. No, there really aren’t. It would add a lot to your time. The toll road is just the best way. And you’ll still need gas to get there and back, won’t you?
He was right, and my heart sank.
I’m just trying to think if I could have someone meet you, he said. But I had little extra time. I was already planning to catch the last hour of the viewing. Surely there, I could find someone who’d be willing to lend money to a woman in distress from brain issues and general incompetence – if I could bear the embarrassment of need – but first I had to get there. Which took money.
You know, Ryan said, I bet if you could find a PNC bank, they’d be willing to work with you, even without a card.
And where, I thought cynically, will I find one of those? But what I said was, Hon, I don’t have any ID.
Even so. I bet they would. We can call and see what they’re willing to do. Let me look – here’s one –
People, do you know that by a miracle of Jesus, there was a branch of our own bank two blocks from where I’d pulled off? I drove there, while Ryan dialed the number and switched us to a conference call.
A manager answered, calm and professional. Ryan explained the situation without even making me look like an ignoramus.
Oh, does your wife have our mobile app? she asked. You don’t need a card for a withdrawal using that.
I don’t believe she does, he said, refraining from adding, I’m not sure if she even knows what an app is. She’s practically Amish.
Where is she? She’s outside? Oh my, tell her to come on in. We can definitely help her.
In person, Jennifer was as helpful and respectful as she’d sounded on the phone. She took me back to her desk and asked for my social security number to look up the account. Then she asked me to confirm my birthdate and address, and followed it up with, How much money would you like to withdraw?
Within minutes, I was back on the road, tires whirling, music playing, sun shining – feeling more thankful to Jesus and more respectful of my husband than I had for some time. What I want to know is, how did they know exactly what to do? My entire delay took 20 minutes or less, and since I’d left home in plenty of time, I was right on track.
I won’t say I didn’t watch the speed limits conscientiously, and the ditches for deer, in case of facing troubles of another kind without ID. I won’t say I didn’t slump in relief when I turned into my own driveway late that night.
What I will say is that I never want to be without cash again.
But if I ever am, hey – I know I’ll be in good hands.