Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Today's NIGHTMARE (I still can't believe happened!)

I went by the post office this morning to purchase and send a money order, and in filling out the money order on one side of the counter and giving it back to the cashier on the other side, I inadvertently left my wallet sitting on the counter (rushing!)... So, of course, not noticing, I took the next ferry and decided that I'd take a cab to campus so that I could arrive a bit earlier than the shuttle bus would have gotten me there. It wasn't until we approached building 1P in the middle of campus that I realized my wallet was missing, and of course the cab driver assumed I was trying to pull a fast one on her. (Strangely enough, during the ride I'd been reflecting on how I don't see very many West African women cab drivers, and wondering what her day to day experience must consist of, but I never actually said anything to her until we reached the campus and I realized my wallet was gone.)

We verbally went back and forth, me panicking that I'd lost EVERYTHING and her trying to call her dispatcher, whom she could not reach, to find out the procedure. I was explaining (in the most irrational way, I must admit!) that this was an emergency because I was just realizing that I'd lost my wallet and there was nothing I could do to pay the fare at the moment, but that it was of the utmost importance that I get out right then, a point for which she had little regard. She had the doors locked and was driving away from where I needed to get out. I asked over and over again for a card to the cab company so I could bring/send the payment later while demanding she let me out, but she would not oblige saying that she doesn't know me, she hears this all the time, and asking "what do you want me to do about this wallet that's missing?? You have to PAY!" I was like, "Sis, PLEASE, you got to help me, I need to get out! Give me a card anything but I have to get out right now, my wallet is gone! I need to get to the office! I don't know what to do! Let me OUT!!!"

When she threatened to drive me back to the ferry terminal I got the door open (from sticking my arm out of the window and pulling the lever from the outside) at a stop sign on the campus and jumped out of the cab! Before slamming the door shut I kept screaming back and forth to her for a card, but she couldn't believe I got the door open and was getting out, so she refused to give me anything that would indicate where the money would need to go later. I started walking across the campus, damn near having a panic attack, heart pumping way tooo hard, sweating and breathing hard, looking at the clock and realizing it was close to class time (and THIS JUST SO HAPPENED TO BE THE DAY my class was going to be EVALUATED by the chair of the English Dept!)

As I was trying my darnedest to get closer to the building where the Eng dept is, security stopped to detain me in the middle of campus and address the complaint the cabbie made against me, threatening to arrest me (can they do that?) if I continued to walk over to the English office and expressing that I could lose my job if I was arrested. I went back and forth with him! "I'm a professor here!!! (even though I look like a student!), I'm LATE to a class that begins in five minutes!! I'm being EVALUATED TODAY!!! My wallet is missing in Manhattan! The cabbie would not give me any info on where to send the money!!! I have to go to the English office and let the chair know!! I need to get to my class!!! I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!" Just boiling over with emotions and panic and uncertainty......

ALL OF THIS was wayyyyyy too much in that moment: the trifecta of unfortunate circumstance (losing my wallet, jumping cab and being threatened to be arrested for "theft of service", and missing my critical evaluation class), so when I called the English office to explain to the secretary what was going on, the tears, snot and incoherent blubbering began! (1000x times more embarrassing than you could ever imagine!)

Security was like "Miss.... Professor...... calm done! PLEASE!!!" But, once I start crying, there's no calming down! (I'm blaming pms hormones run amok in combination with being a certified walking nerve ending that feels every emotion more intensely than one person should ever have to!) So, I didn't calm down. I stayed on the phone and kept trying to explain to the secretary what was going on.... I felt like an irresponsible loser idiot and couldn't figure out for the life of me how all of this escalated into the frenzied misfortune it seemed to be. I'd prepared my lesson for evaluation class days ago and put the finishing touches on my presentation package last night (a step that isn't even necessary, I just like to include it.) I'd woken up 30 minutes early and left before I usually leave my house to reach Staten Island with enough time to get my mind right and be ready for a vibrant class session. Even with leaving early, the train's inconsistent schedule got me to the ferry two minutes two late, and I missed the boat that would have gotten me to campus 40 mins early. THAT'S when I decided to go to the post office and the caper began....... That was definitely fuel to the emotional meltdown I was experiencing: How do you prepare for things to come out perfectly and they just disintegrate before your very eyes??? How do you find yourself in need of immediate help and be met with adverse action against you? In the middle of my tears, I had the very present of mind to pray a very simple prayer: Lord HELP ME! Please!! I need your help! Please, send someone to help me! I don't know what to do....

And He did just that. (Which is why the song "I Love the Lord, He Heard My Cry" has been resonating through my being since the ordeal took place....)

As events would continue to unfold, everyone at the college ended up being most gracious in helping me resolve the problem:

First, once the secretary understood what the problem was she sent over $40 to cover any problems when I only needed $16 to cover the fare. (They gave the driver $20 and I sent the other $20 back to her.)

Next, the security office tracked down my wallet at the post office, and notified them that I would be coming back to get it within the hour.

Once the co-chair heard what was going on, she came directly to the security office to lend her support and make sure I was okay. She said that it was no problem to cancel my class today and reschedule the visit, and that she totally understood as she loses things all the time...

And then there was George, the director of Security, who was the biggest angel of mercy for me. He took a vested interest in calming me down ("Wipe your tears, pretty girl!") with anecdotes about his wife losing house keys all the time for all the years they've been married, offered to drive me back to the ferry to go back over and get my wallet, gave me tips on what to do if I ever find myself in that kind of situation again (at least on campus), and even handed me a $5 bill for coffee ("Here, kid, get yourself some coffee and enjoy the rest of your day; life is too short to sweat the small stuff"). His kindness and compassion is akin to a favorite uncle, and I'm just extremely grateful to know this is the community of individuals I work with from week to week.

Once George dropped me off at the terminal, I went over to the cab dispatcher just to explain that as a person who takes a cab from that terminal to campus at least once every couple of weeks, I would never try to skip out on a fare. He was understanding and assured that everything was fine and we shook hands, but not before he explained the policy for not paying fare (which is for the driver to confiscate the cell phone as collateral and bring it to him until the fare is paid.... that's wild). And by the time the boat arrived, I was calm and collected, though extremely exhausted, physically and mentally.

I returned to the post office in lower Manhattan where my wallet was in the proper care of the sweetest post office attendant I've ever met (another angel). She assured me that everything was in there (which it was once I checked!), and even said that she tried to figure out a way to reach me but didn't see a contact # on my checks...) I thanked her, and it seems people who were standing in line were inspired by the small bit of details they were able to glean from our conversation.

When I think about the character of the people who helped me and the way that the circumstance was resolved, it reminded me of how, perhaps, things are within smaller towns, rather the BIG city. NYC has a rap for being a cold hard jungle, but it just proves to me that New Yorkers have hearts of gold when it comes down to helping someone who is in need.

So.....I still don't know how all of this happened... but I know that God's hand was on the outcome.

As soon as I got home, I had a small bite to eat and fell right to sleep..... because when reality is a nightmare, sometimes a sweet dream in a comfy bed is the antidote of choice.


eMCee said...

Oh mai goodness is the first thing that comes to mind! Mai word! Thank GOD for his providence, even when everything seems to be unraveling at the seams!!

This series of unfortunate events reminds me to exercise grace when dealing with others, no matter how crazy a situation may be! More of us should serve as God's stand in angels when our brother man is in need!

I cannot even imagine the panic that set in once your brain cells started processing everything that had happened!!! YIKES! So glad your spirit man nudged you to utter a simple but powerful 3 word prayer. *Exhales* What sweet RELIEF when you laid your head on that pillow at day's end!!!

Nemiss said...

wow sis! you went through it but at the end of the day God is good.

Mai~Goodness said...

eMCee, you are soooo right about gaining a perspective on how what it's like to be the person in need, and being the person who can choose to help or not. Once I slept (for about five hours!) and woke up, I was like "all of that didn't happen earlier today... did it????" One day, I'll laugh about it, though that will not be today!

Nemiss, girl...... ALL THE TIME!!

taradrichardw said...

Mai - I came in after having a wonderful day (well, not much at work then Dizzy's after with Allan Harris, Rene Marie and Carla Cook. I was just about to post about my day and I saw your note...So I am so happy that it all resolved itself happily. I do know how living in NYC is a love it/hate it proposition - or a heaven/hell situation and you saw both sides today. Just as another gentle reminder of the power of prayer: on the first day of Lent, as I contemplated what I had or had not fully decided was my sacrifice for the duration, I got all riled up about my co-worker situation. Almost simultaneously I decided to do a rosary every day of lent and to give up complaining (for Lent - God knows it would be tough beyond a 40 day period). Let me tell you - every day I see the power of prayer to relax me, to help me let go of the negative reactions and to see the other side of almost all situations (I still can't get the Sarah Palins or Michelle Bachmans or the tea partiers, mind you).

There are constant reminders in this city that no matter how big it is and how difficult it can be, it still is made up of a bunch of humans who ALL manage to lose the most important things at least once and who pray ...

I don't think I've invited you yet for Easter dinner - April 24th early evening. Would love it if you would join us.

Mai~Goodness said...

Tara, I'm beaming and humbled by your comment. Thank you so much for sharing how prayer is allowing you to be the change that you want to see if a circumstance. I hope that the duration of Lent is a blessing for you, and I'd love to joint you and Richard for Easter dinner. I'm SOO looking forward to it.

Peace and blessings to you.
With love.

eMCee said...

Thank you for sharing! Giving up complaining is ingenious! I will make it my mission for the day to do the same! Gotta start small :)