The Odd Blog

And when our cubs grow / We'll show you what war is good for

A Total Nightmare

Posted by That Other Mike on 21/01/2008

Mike says: This details something which happened to my girlfriend just yesterday. She put it up at our message board first, and we decided to crosspost it here.

Here it is, in her own words:

I don’t own a car. Fortunately, the city where I live has a decent public transportation system. I can take a bus anywhere I need to go.

This morning, I was riding the bus home after doing a little shopping, chatting with the bus driver as we were approaching my stop. I got off the bus, crossed the street, and walked about half a block when I looked down and saw that the bag hanging from my arm was a shopping bag. My purse was not there. I had left it on the bus.

I instantly started to panic. My purse contained my passport, my son’s passport, both of our social security cards, my house keys and a bill with the address to the house the keys would open, $350 cash, our bus passes, besides the usual crap you might find in a purse.

Now, before you tell me how stupid I was to carry all that around to begin with, I usually don’t. I have a wallet that I keep our passports and social security cards in, and I usually keep that on the top shelf of my bedroom closet. Today, I needed my passport for something, was in a hurry, and just grabbed the whole thing before leaving the house.

So I was standing in the parking lot of the shop I was passing when I noticed I didn’t have my bag, and literally started shouting, “No! No! No!” I didn’t know what to do. My mind was racing. Do I try to chase the bus? I’ll never catch it. Do I call a taxi? I couldn’t sit and wait for a taxi, and I wouldn’t have money to pay for it if we didn’t catch the bus. For a split second, I even considered flagging down a random driver on the street and asking him to chase the bus.

I felt numb. This didn’t seem real. I felt like I was in the middle of a bad dream. All the activity around me seemed… blurred or foggy or something. There was no distinction between the sounds of traffic and people talking. It was all one loud buzz in my ears.

I started running home. I called the bus company’s customer service line, but they wouldn’t call the bus driver because it wasn’t a 911 emergency; they can’t call drivers about “lost articles”. I explained that we weren’t talking about an umbrella or a scarf. The best they could do was tell me when that bus would be passing by my house again. I had to wait an hour and a half.

Every worst-case scenario began playing in my head. Besides losing $350, which would make for a very shitty day, I started thinking about identity theft. If our passports and social security cards ended up in the wrong hands, my son’s credit could be destroyed before he started middle school. Mine could be ruined. What if someone stole our identities and committed a crime? My house keys and address were in the bag. What if someone worked it out, and walked right through our front door with my very own keys and robbed us? Or worse? The nightmares wouldn’t stop playing in my head.

I was on the phone with my honey, and in the middle of what felt like a complete meltdown, when I heard call waiting. I don’t usually answer them when I’m on the phone with him, but I answered this one. An unfamiliar voice asked for me by name. I asked who it was, and she said, “This is Michelle, your bus driver.”

I said (not asked), “You have my bag!”

She said, “I have your bag.”

She apologized for going through my things (ha!) but she had recognized the bag as mine and wanted to find a way to contact me. Remember the bill in the bag that I was worried about because it had my address on it? It was my phone bill! She got the number from it, called me, and told me she was on the way back, and would meet me at my usual stop.

The relief was so incredible, that it felt like as much of a shock to my system as realizing I had left my bag on the bus. I broke down crying again, and thanking her repeatedly. I met her at the bus stop, and actually hugged her before I realized what I was doing. I cried again.

Walking back home with my son, we were both silent for a while. Very unusual for us. I know it might sound melodramatic, but it was as if we’d been given our lives back somehow. I broke the silence by saying:

“There really are good and decent people in the world.”

I want to do something nice for my bus driver. Everything I think of seems so puny in light of what she did for me. I won’t see her again until next week, though, so I have that long to think about it.

Needless to say, this has been a very emotional day at our house. It’s been seven hours since I got my things back, and I’m still feeling it. I wonder if I’ll be able to sleep tonight. I’m about to give it a try.

Thanks for reading this far. Goodnight.


5 Responses to “A Total Nightmare”

  1. Selena Parsley said

    Mike’s Girl,
    (I hope you see this, I am not going to read y’alls messageboard, that seems too personal.)

    ~Gift idea for the very nice bus driver~ If you happen to be from the Houston area, I know a skilled massage therapist that has reasonably priced services and she offers gift cards ranging from 25.00 – 65.00 and she also works with people who are on a budget! She also enjoys comforting people far more than she does making the money.

    Thank God everything worked out for you and your son! I have a soft spot for mother’s of sons. 😀 I know the feeling of thinking, “Is this REALLY happening to me?!?!?!”

  2. Mike's Girl said

    Thanks for the suggestion, Selena. I’m not in Houston, but there is a very nice day spa here with very reasonable rates as well. I hadn’t considered that. Thanks. 🙂

    Maybe I should go too, after that ordeal.

  3. Selena Parsley said

    Yes, get a massage! Treat yourself when you can even if it’s a thirty-minute session. There are so many benefits to massage.

    I would look in the phonebook or on-line for LMTs that work for themselves independently. Their rates are most likely to be less expensive. Day Spas are more expensive since it’s usually done commission-based; a couple of people are making a cut from one massage. HTH 😀

  4. Lottie said

    The day Michelle returned my bag, we just met her at the bus stop so we both had to go our ways with getting a chance to talk. Well, I finally got the chance to talk to her yesterday on my way back from shopping. It turns out there was more to what happened than I had realized or even imagined.

    Right after I got off the bus that day, a man immediately moved to the seat where I had been; the seat where I had left my bag. He tried to get off at the next stop, and Michelle saw my bag on his shoulder. It’s a little backpack which might be carried by a man or a woman, so it might not have been obvious to anyone else, but Michelle knows us and recognized the bag as mine.

    She said to the man, “That bag doesn’t belong to you.” He insisted that it did. She told him that she knew it wasn’t his because she knew who it really belonged to. He tried to argue the point, but she wasn’t having it. Michelle parked the bus, refusing to open it for him to get out, got down from her driver seat, and took my bag from the man.

    She immediately called her husband who drives for the same company, and told him what had happened. She described the man just in case something should happen to her. After all, she placed herself at considerable risk confronting the man the way she did. She also explained to her husband that she knew who the bag belonged to, and that she was deeply concerned for us. She guessed that I was a single mom on a budget who was probably in a state of panic (how right he was!) and knew she had to do everything she could to get my bag back to me.

    She wasn’t going to give up if I hadn’t answered the phone, either. She had already let her husband know that, if she couldn’t contact me by phone, she was going to stop by my house after her shift and return my bag. (The phone bill obviously had my address on it as well.)

    And, if you can believe it, she was still concerned that I was bothered by her going through my things. I told her she was crazy! LOL

    Anyway, the whole thing seemed almost surreal. Here was one person ready to walk off with my belongings with seeming disregard for how it might affect the people he was stealing from. At the same time and place there was another person who placed herself at considerable risk by confronting a stranger, in order to protect my family and our interests. And it was probably all taking place less than a mile from my house while I was having my meltdown.

    It’s all very emotional for me, to be honest. And it’s comforting to know that there are people like Michelle in the world; people who can be trusted and who are willing to go out of their way to help people.

    I’m still completely amazed and overwhelmed by it all.

  5. […] of my bus rides have been uneventful, for the most part. I haven’t left anymore valuables behind, and I haven’t been verbally assaulted by anymore drivers. I did have to endure the rantings […]

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