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Friday, March 17, 2017

What's In YOUR Wallet?

    As anybody who has reached a certain age can tell you, the older you get the harder it is to remember things.  It could be that our brain cells are wearing out and just aren't as nimble as they used to be.  Or it could be that we have tried to pack too much information into what is most certainly a limited storage space in our head.  By the time you've reached middle age, you have already had to remember a vast amount of information such as all the names of all your children's teachers from kindergarten through high school; passwords for 27 different accounts and systems that you only log into once every six months; how to do every job you've ever worked at since the age of 16; the birthdates of all your friends and relatives and their favorite colors; all the state capitols that you memorized in the 7th grade; how to program a VCR in the 1980s; combinations of 11 different combination locks used at various times in your life - the list goes on and on. 
    It's time to admit that your memory bank is maxed out.  You just can't cram one more bit of information in there if you tried, so you resort to cheating.  You write down your passwords in a secret location, even though every security expert advises against it.  You start leaving yourself post-it notes in conspicuous places.  You call yourself on the phone and leave yourself messages to remind you of appointments.   You set reminders on  your cell phone and your tablet, and write them on your calendar.  You find a hundred different ways to compensate for your dwindling capacity to remember things.
      Personally, I take this even further.  For random bits of information that I just may need someday, I have resorted to the habit of writing them on small slips of paper and sticking them in my wallet.  My wallet is in the same condition as my memory bank - it is already jammed full of too much stuff.  First, there are the normal things everybody carries: a few odd pieces of paper money, which takes up hardly any space at all;  my driver's license; credit cards; insurance cards, stamps, and receipts from my latest purchases.  There's a library card, courtesy cards from stores that I frequent, a few business cards from local businesses and my doctors.  But now there's a stack of papers containing random bits of information that started out small but seems to be growing:  one slip of paper contains the names of my senator and state representative, in case I feel the urge to contact them.  Another contains the name of a rare medical condition that a friend told me she has.  There are a couple business cards of new acquaintances at church who I readily admitted I would not be able to remember their names to.  One slip contains the brand and size of aquarium filter I use. Another contains the row and seat number of my husband's season ticket at the local high school football stadium.  I used to have one that held the brand name and size of xylophone mallets that my son wanted me to buy in the 8th grade.  I kept that one for about 3 years before tossing it.   For the last 3 months I have been carrying  around a product warranty card written in hilarious Ching-lish that I will pull out in case I ever need something to entertain somebody with.  I also have a want ad for a job that I decided I could not afford to leave my current job to take, but I'm saving it in case something happens to change my mind.  (I'm sure the job will be long past filled by then.)   And last but not least I have the "I Love Voting" sticker that was handed to me at the polls in the last election, to remind myself that even thought I did not like the election outcome, we still live in a country where we have the right and the privilege of voting for our government officials.
     My wallet is more than just a place to carry money.  It's a depository of bits and pieces of my life, some important and critical, some random and perhaps unimportant.  But you never know when you're going to be stuck in an broken down elevator with three strangers, and need to lighten the mood and kill some time by pulling out that hilarious Chinese-butchered-English product warranty manual.  It's certainly worth carrying it around for five years, just in case!