I started my day this morning with a traffic jam on my way to work, my first one in a long while. Luckily, as a result of good advice from my blogging friends, I started to take deep breaths (after I turned off the radio) and I quickly relaxed, slowly making my way into the office. Unfortunately, my calm didn’t last too long, because my first message on my answering machine when I got to my desk was one from my credit card company – “please call us right away about possible fraud on your account“. Uh oh.
Usually that means a review of new transactions and a “yes or no” from me. Simple, right? Not this time – the message was “unfortunately your credit card number has been compromised and we’ll need to cancel it and issue you a new one“. Ah yes, a current foible of our digital world – virtual hacking of vendor databases. It was like something precious being taken away – those 16 little numbers that we’ve memorized and used for almost every financial transaction for the last 5 years. I have no other credit cards, having weaned them all down years ago (I never pay finance charges – and I’m quite militant about it).
“Do you really have to do this?” I asked. “Can’t I just use it for a few more days to give me time to transition all my auto-pays“? Nope, it had to be done NOW. The credit card company had to protect itself (since, after all, they are responsible for fraudulent transactions). At that very second, those 16 numbers disappeared. So for 24 hours I needed to go without credit, until they Fed-Exed me new cards and a new set of 16 numbers . And I suddenly felt helpless and upset. I’d gotten so used to rarely using cash that this actually was traumatic.
I then attempted to contact my wife, so she wouldn’t suffer the indignity of having her card rejected. She was engaged in an issue of her own, however. Her new car was being serviced so at the time I was trying to reach her she was picking it up from the shop, only to find that the service people had scratched one of the doors. It set up an interesting dynamic when the two of us finally spoke – we both had issues that were causing us a little stress.
Oddly enough, we ended up quickly settling down- it was almost like both of these “bad” things canceled each other out. It was “instant empathy”. Of course, in hindsight I question why I reacted so poorly to losing the 16 numbers – they were just that, numbers, and by tomorrow afternoon all will be returned to normal. These temporary states of what I call “yuppie agnst” still perplex me sometimes.
Yes, it’s been “one of those days”, but in the end I’ve learned another lesson about the importance of perspective and the restorative powers of empathy. And that ain’t bad!