A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker


It wasnít that big of a deal. It was just the end of civilization as we know it.

Well, OK. Maybe Iím exaggerating. A little. But it seemed like a crisis at the time.

It was my debit card. It was gone. Now, you have to know a few things in order to understand why this created such havoc in my heart. First, the vast (or is it half-vast?) Walker Financial Empire runs on a profit margin thinner than a dollar bill. In fact, during the holidays, weíre pretty much running on negative profits. The last thing I need is to have someone out there using my debit card to spend money I donít have Ė I mean, someone besides my wife and kids.

Second, Iíve become so accustomed to using my debit card for everything that Iíve sort of forgotten how to function without one. Cash? Whatís that? Do stores even take that stuff anymore? This can be embarrassing when all you want is a candy bar. I donít know about you, but I feel kind of stupid using my debit card for a 75 cent purchase. So to save face I pick up a few other things that I donít really need (but might need someday), and I end up spending $75 instead of 75 cents.

Third, Iím old and semi-feeble. Dealing with banks and bureaucrats is for the young and strong. There is an entire wing at my fatherís care center for those whose minds were scrambled during the process of canceling lost debit cards and ordering new ones.
Fourth, did I mention that itís the holiday season? And that Iím male? Sometime during the next couple of weeks Iím going to have to start thinking about buying some presents. And how can I do that without my debit card (please see point two, above)?

And fifth, I really need a haircut. That doesnít have anything to do with anything, but I just thought you should know the kind of stress Iím under here.

Anyway, I was running errands Ė a stop at the bank, a stop at the post office, a stop at the dry cleaners. I went into the pharmacy to pick up some chemical additive for one of my many medicated relatives (our pharmacist was driving a Ď72 Volkswagen when we moved into the neighborhood; now heís driving a Porsche). But when I reached for my debit card it was gone.

In a panic I searched my wallet (this didnít take long, because the wallet was basically empty except for a fistful of debit card receipts). I searched the car. Nothing. I started re-tracing my steps. The last time I could remember seeing the card was when I stopped at the ATM machine outside the bank to buy some stamps. I knew I had it with me then because I used it to buy the stamps. I remembered pulling the stamps out of the machine, but I didnít remember pulling the card out Ė which means I probably didnít.

I hurried back to the ATM machine to see if the card was still there. It wasnít. Suddenly I was filled with anger and resentment toward the idiot who had stolen my debit card from the ATM machine (this was easier and infinitely more satisfying than being mad at the idiot who left it there). Resigned, I went into the bank to start the long, tedious and quite possibly fatal process of canceling my debit card and ordering a new one.

"Whatís your name?" the bank manager asked when I started to explain my plight.

I told her.

"Does this look familiar?" She held out my well-used debit card. I fought back tears of joyful relief. "The next person to use the ATM machine found it and brought it in."

Unfortunately, the bank manager didnít get the name of my debit card rescuer. So Iíll just have to say "thank you" to all of you who are honest and thoughtful enough to do such a thing. Youíre heroes in my book.

And definitely not "idiots."

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--- © Joseph Walker


Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through