Jefe's House

An Icon Comes Home

by on Sep.25, 2016, under NYC, On the Road, The Truth Is In Here

How a Bogle, St. Mary and their Mysterious Human Operative Saved the Day

Yesterday morning I hop off the train from Philly at NY Penn and head toward the A train to zoom down to NYU to teach when I realize my wallet is gone. Had I been pickpocketed or had it fallen out in my train seat? Argh! I make a mad dash back but then realize in the packed rush hour station that I have absolutely no clue which of the 21 tracks we’ve just come up from onto the main floor. Who pays attention to what track number they came in on? Besides, all of the escalators leading down to the platforms are still set to “up” so I have no immediate way down to any newly arrived train.

I run and find a uniformed employee hanging around a back corridor who tells me I have to check with customer service, on the far end of the building, naturally, and that they can tell me exactly which track my train had come in on. By that time my train and my wallet would be long gone anyway but I have no choice.

So I sprint through a million wrong turns and find the customer service office. They’re helpful but can only tell me they’re “pretty sure” my train would have arrived on track 1. I run down to track 1 and a train (my train?) is still sitting there but — Murphy’s Law — it’s locked. Coincidentally a motorman comes along at that time and unlocks the train. I hop on, explain my situation and he tells me to have a blast and look all I want because the train isn’t leaving anytime soon. I walk through the entire train to be safe, looking in the seats, under the seats, in the aisles, nothing. I have to face the fact that my wallet is gone.

By now my class had started 15 minutes ago so I have to stop my panicked running around and email my students that class is canceled due to my being sick to my stomach. Didn’t know what else to do — no Metrocard to get downtown, no NYU ID to get into the building even if I got there, no driver’s license, no nothing that proved my identity. My cash, two weeks’ worth of train tickets, also gone. Not even a way to get back to Philly. I’m mentally running through a list of NYC friends who’ll lend me a few bucks to get home. I go back to customer service to file a lost and found report and they kindly give me a courtesy ticket to get back to Trenton, where I’d have to then plead my case to the SEPTA office to try and get them to give me a courtesy ticket onward to Philly. Then I remember I can make an online purchase of a Bolt Bus ticket with my phone and choose that as the cheapest and quickest option.

As I trudge west to the bus stop I think of what has to be dealt with ASAP and what can wait. Cancel the credit cards first. Then apply for a replacement driver’s license, replacement NYU ID, replacement Drexel ID, replacement YMCA card, replacement library card. I also lament the loss of the wallet as I’d bought it in India where it was handmade and had great sentimental value.

Most importantly I lament the loss of the lucky keepsake that I’ve kept in all of my wallets since my first trip to the former Yugoslavia in 1997 (resulting in my hit play “Tesla’s Letters”). It’s a small card featuring a Serbian Orthodox Christian icon of St. Mary that my host family had given me on my return trip to ensure safe travels (it served me well over the past 19 years). I’m certainly no Christian but the thought of losing that icon pains me the most. Her face and sideways glance had become like an old friend I’d glimpse every time I opened my wallet.

I was still in the Denial stage of my grief, thinking surely she and I haven’t parted ways forever. She’ll find her way back to me, right? Right? Should I pray or something? Over a wallet? Pray for the return of a wallet with all the other shit going on in the world? You’re gonna pray over a wallet? Don’t you dare. So I don’t.


Image via

Instead I remember what my Irish friend Ian swears by when he’s lost something; he calls upon the Bogle by shouting, “Help me, Bogle!” But I’m too late. I should have done that when I was searching the train but by now I’m rolling out of Manhattan on the Bolt. I decide to try it anyway, concentrate and think, “Help me, Bogle! Bring St. Mary back to me!” Religious syncretism at its best.

Two and half hours later I’m back home in Philly going down the list I’d made on the bus ride — calling NYU’s ID card center to report a stolen or lost card, calling Drexel University where I also teach, calling Penn DOT to find out how to replace my license, when the phone rings. It’s my better half. The bank has called her as my emergency contact to pass along to me that they got a call from someone who’s found my wallet and has already dropped it in the mail to me. The finder had called the 800 number on the back of my bank card to let them know to tell me that my wallet was safe and it would be coming to the address on my driver’s license. The bank’s customer service rep had asked the finder for a number that they could give me. She had only identified herself as “Miss Linda.” I called her number, with an area code nearly 3000 miles away, to thank her profusely and it’s a disconnected line that is no longer in service…

So thank you, Miss Linda, wherever, whoever and whatever you are.

#bogle #mary #kindness of strangers


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