I have this thing I’ve been doing I call “The Columbo” whenever I leave the house. If you’ve ever seen the retro show starring Peter Falk (or saw him as the grandfather in “The Princess Bride,”) you’re familiar with it.
It’s basically a pocket/mental check to make sure I’m not forgetting anything.
Wallet? Check. Keys? Check. You get the idea.
Last week, the morning routine was different than usual as I had extra things to remember to bring to G’s preschool for her birthday celebration. So it wasn’t until after I dropped her off and pulled into a coffee shop for a cup when the panic hit me.
Where’s my wallet?
You know that feeling. Everything is in there – ID, credit cards, that special picture of Grace, your life.
I scoured my work bag and car… no luck.
So I drove back home hoping to find it on my dresser. Nope. I searched the house top to bottom without finding it.
Extra stress as this was the day I was to pick (and pay for) her new bike and I only had a small amount of time to do that and my work before picking her up. Was I going to have to cancel all the cards, get a new ID, call my wife and ask her for some cash to get it all done? The day wasn’t looking good.
The jacket I was wearing had notoriously shallow pockets. Things had fallen out before.
I decided to retrace my steps and drove back to Grace’s school to see if it was where I’d parked…praying the whole way there.
When it didn’t turn up there, I started walking the path up to the school which led me by the playground. Grace’s class was outside playing and she was standing next to the short chain linked fence curiously looking at my unannounced reappearance.
“What are you doing here Daddy?” she asked.
“Oh, I just think something dropped out of my pocket and I can’t find it so I’m here looking to see if it fell out here,” I said with a smile.
She looked up at me with her big brown eyes and said, “Do you mean your wallet?”
Two strong emotions hit me immediately – relief and wariness. I didn’t want to fully believe my search was over until I was sure.
“Do you mean that little black thing with the cards in it?” I said.
“Why would you say that?” I asked.
“Because I hid it,” she said with a grin. “It’s behind the big princesses in my room.”
I only had one more question for her (and the teachers standing next to her).
“Is it okay if I come in there and give you a big kiss?” I asked.
The teachers nodded and even though it was just too uncool for me to do it according to her expression, I came in anyway, kissed her, and thanked her for letting me know where it was. Of course, that was immediately followed with a discussion of what things were ok to hide and what things weren’t and when.
That conversation was repeated again after school just to make sure she understood. Better safe than sorry. If only I’d remembered to “Columbo”…