Or why I don't carry my train pass in my wallet.
[A while back, I mentioned that I don't carry my train pass in my wallet, and that I keep a spare $20 in with the train pass. This is why.]
It was the summer of '88. End of July. A hot time in the old town. I was freshly graduate from college and had just moved up to "The Big City". I was only a couple weeks into my first job. I hadn't even gotten my first paycheck. So I was broke.
Back in those days, "Business Casual" didn't exist. I was still in training at my job, wearing "summer wool" suits and sweating buckets in the blistering sun as old men in three piece suits, smoking cigars, strode past me, cool as the underside of the pillow.
I rode Metra to work every day. Real trains. Real conductors. You have to have your ticket out and on display for the whole ride. I was using a "10 ride". A slip of hard paper about the size of a credit card that had to be physically punched by the conductor each time, and it easily fit into the credit card slot in my wallet.
I woke up one morning and couldn't find my wallet. Gone! It wasn't in the suit I wore the night before. Or the pants I wore that previous night. It wasn't in my briefcase. It was nowhere.
No wallet. No cash. No ID. No train pass. No hope.
Being too embarrassed to ask any of my fellow trainees for some money for lunch, I hatched a plan. I knew one person who worked downtown, over at the Lyric Opera. I didn't know Ron well, but we had some mutual college friends, and everyone at Mac Knew everyone. I would bum $5 from Ron.
Oh, those glorious pre-911 days when you could walk into an office building, stumble around, find a office, and have someone track down the guy you were looking for. And Ron lent me the $5 without batting an eye.
I'm not sure anymore where I came up with the $20 to live on and repay Ron with that next day. I know my brother-in-law, Doug, wired me $50 into my bank account up here. On day 2 without the wallet, I stopped in at Metra's lost and found. Nothing. So, I called and canceled the charge cards (Sears' & Penny's, I think) and got a replacement driver's license. On the way home, still no luck at lost and found. Or on the morning of day 3, either.
Giving it up for lost, I was surprised when the floor receptionist handed me a note that morning (pre-voice mail): My wallet had been found and was at lost and found!
As best as I can figure, I must have put my train pass in my wallet, and then when I went to put my wallet in my suit coat's inner pocket, I missed and it fell to the floor.
And that, dear friends, is why I never carry my train pass in my wallet. And to Ron, we may never have been "good friends" but you were a "great friend" when I needed one.
So, if you're wondering if people remember that act of kindness from forever ago? In this case, the answer is, "yes."