Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I had a defining moment last night.
1:45 am. I was making a writing post for my second blog. I had finished it up and was about to copy/paste in the piece before heading off to bed. I figured I would get a good night’s rest before doing a few tasks tomorrow, specifically heading to the bank to deposit my paycheck.
I went into the living room to get my check ready for tomorrow. I was sure it was under the bed I used as a sofa.
Yeah, under the bed. See, I had it sitting on top with a bunch of papers. But when coming home late from work and finding the note from the landlord saying he was showing off the building to potential buyers, I had decided to do a quick cleanup. Although this was the day after the showing, you never know if the handyman would stop in to check on the place. So I had taken everything from off the top of the bed, placed it into a grocery bag, and slipped it under the bed with the idea that I would go through the papers later to toss out what I didn’t want to keep.
Well, I didn’t get around to doing anything until Sunday night. And the only reason I went into the bag was to get my check.
I pulled out the bag and went through the papers, twice and then five more times. No check. I shrugged at first. Maybe I had stuck it into my small safe hidden below the bottom drawer of my dresser. I got my safe keys and popped it open. Nothing.
All right, maybe I stuck it under the printer. Sometimes I do this with the bills so they're in one place but out of sight enough from snooping handymen. I picked it up and saw the stub where the check was detached. I had the fright of my life.
Someone had removed my check from the pay stub?
That’s when I started panicking. I looked at the amount and realized it was an old stub. But where was my new paycheck? I searched my tables. I lifted up my radio and the lids off containers. I checked under the bed again and in my bag I took to work. I searched the drawers, growing more upset by the passing minute. The time approached 2am. I hadn’t found my check. I picked up the newspapers, shaking them to see if maybe it got slipped into the pages when I shoved them into the bag. Then I checked the final place that I could. The garbage can. Although trash day was Friday, I had been too tired to take the bag to the curb. So nothing got tossed from that week.
Nothing but regular garbage.
My worries mounted. A check can’t just up and walk out on its own. Where could it have gone? I stared toward the bedroom and the comforter blanket that I have draped over the entrance for privacy. That’s when the dread turned into mind-numbing shock.
Someone had been in my apartment on Saturday.
When I got home that day, the comforter had been taken down and neatly folded by the entryway. I knew about the first meeting (which had me hide the check and do the quick cleanup). But nobody said they would be coming back again on the weekend. I remembered there were a lot of people looking at the empty apartment on the other side: the prospective buyers and their workers.
Did one of them take my check? Did they slip it in their pocket? Why? For what purpose? Could they actually cash it with my name on it?
I didn’t know. All I knew was that I needed that check for my rent and utilities. I knew I had some money in the bank. Also, I had cash stowed away in my safe for groceries and emergencies. That combined would cover my rent. I had paid more on my electric bill last time. I only had a buck and some change to pay for this month.
But the gas...
I would have a bill coming in, more than likely a high bill from the harsh and lingering winter. A high bill that I wouldn’t have the money to pay off.
With tears streaming down my face, I debated what to do. I would have to call work and tell them. If someone took my check, they could have had it at least a good two days to do whatever with it. I could sell off some of my things. The radio. The CDs. My printer. I had an extra bar table set. If worse comes to worse, I could sell my microwave and laptop. All this could give me some time and needed cash.
2:45am. I went into the living room and into the grocery bag again. Dejectedly, I pulled out all the papers, tossing them everywhere on the floor, hoping the check would miraculously appear while knowing it wouldn’t. I searched too many times to miss it in there. I bent on knees and looked under the bed for the third time. Nothing left there. I stood and scrounged around in all the pockets to every coat. Still nothing. I stared at the top of my bed. Only thing there was my rain slicker and a package of printer paper I had bought earlier in the week. My finger pushed the edge of the paper.
The check appeared.
I could have slapped myself silly over that. Suddenly, my memory hit the circuit breaker and I recalled how I was running late with my cleanup of the apartment. I placed the check under there at the last minute before going out the door to keep it hidden from sight.
I went to the bank. I deposited my check and took out extra cash that went into my safe as everyday money and for emergencies.
My memory is funny like that.