One part shocking; two parts overwhelming

I lost my wallet today.

I’m 90% certain it was stolen. For those of you who read more often than when my blog pops up on your google search for “topless bars seoul,” you may be aware that I’m leaving to Thailand. Right. Now.

Seriously. My bus leaves in less than six hours as I type this. But let’s start at the beginning

I went about today in a rush of “Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god.” Because I had to write worksheets, tests, and activities for all seven of my classes before I was free.To say I was on-edge, rushed and overwhelmed is an understatement. I was practically hyperventilating for most of the day.

I arrived at the school around 12:30 p.m. my arms full of treats and gifts for my students. This close to my mini-vacation, I was feeling generous. I put all my bags and boxes down. Happy to remove the load and get to the serious business of test-making.

As I was making tests, Mr. Shin politely brought me a package. I ripped it open to find my Bangkok guidebook. The book arrived just in time for my upcoming ventures. Whoo-oo! Fleetingly it passed my mind that this was a good omen for the trip I’ve been having anxiety about all week. I slipped the book into my bag and got back to test-making.

The next time I looked at my bag, I was leaving around 10 p.m. This time my arms were full of trash from the office, as I wanted to return to a clean desk on Tuesday. I took the trash out, then made my way to the nearest PC bang. I paid the 1,000 won fee and printed the directions to my hotel in Bangkok. Soon the owner brought me my papers and asked for 500 won. I reached into my pocket for the change, but I didn’t have enough. I reached into my bag. I felt around for my wallet and came up empty. I started to panic. I took everything out of my bag. “Wallet opsoyo,” I said. Trying to explain in awful Konglish that I couldn’t give her 500 won. (The equivalent of 50 cents.)

Finally she just nodded and let me go. I ran downstairs to see a young man nodding and bowing as he greeted me. “Hang on,” I yelled. I got it together enough to recognize the kid who had clearly recognized me.

“Boss’s Son! Where’s your mom? My wallet is missing?” I shouted.

“Hang on,” he answered. “I call.”

He called his mom. As I called James and Mina hoping to find someone still at the school. No one was there. After what felt like forever, but was probably less than five minutes, Boss’s Son looked at me.

“Go to ESL,” he said. “Wait.” He shrugged at me then continued to walk in the direction of his home.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I shouted and ran for ESL.

About 15 minutes later, I saw my boss walking up the street towards me. I tried to explain what had happened. She let me in the school and we looked. Searching the office, classrooms and bathrooms for a large bright pink wallet containing two credit cards, my alien registration card and close to 1 million won (nearly $1,000).

I was so on top of my travel game I had everything I needed in my wallet a full 24 hours in advance. Clearly I am brilliant.

We came up empty-handed. Mina’s wallet was stolen about two months ago from our office. A tiny piece of me wants to believe my wallet was misplaced and will turn back up, but I think one of our students now carries my life in their greedy hands.

Through a four-way conversation with both James and Mina on the phone, I explained my plane ticket is still good to go. I did lose my bus ticket for in the morning, but otherwise the trip is still “on.” My boss asked how much I was planning on taking with me. How much money was missing? I told her 500,000 won.

We then went on an hour tour of the neighborhood. Checking everywhere I had been today for my wallet. So far, it’s still missing. There’s only one more business to check before we are out of possible options. This is the woman who found and returned my phone after it was missing for over a week. She is a miracle-worker. As she and her daughter dropped me off at home she nonchalantly reached out to hand me 500,000 won. “You go,” she said. “You want, you go.”

I nodded practically in tears.

She’s convinced my wallet is missing. Not stolen. “We will find,” Boss said. “Call you.”

Perhaps if I had her confidence in humanity, I wouldn’t be so overwhelmed by her generosity.

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