November 15, 2017 by Jean
The fifth day of the power outage in Maine was a Murphy’s Law kind of day. The power hadn’t been restored the previous evening as promised, and I woke up to see my neighbor turning off her generator and driving away for the day (which meant that I couldn’t go over to her house to fill up water containers or boil water for tea). This was also the day that I followed up on the scrabbling noises I had heard while driving home from singing rehearsal the previous night by emptying out the storage area of my car, which revealed an elaborate nest of shredded tissues down in the wheel well for the spare tire, along with at least two resident mice. And just in case no electricity, no running water, and mice setting up a maternity ward in my car wasn’t enough, as I pulled out my eyeglasses to put them on that morning, one of the ear pieces broke off in my hand. Aaarghh!
I created a somewhat fragile repair to my glasses using scotch tape and decided to finally do something about filling the prescription for new glasses that had been sitting on my desk for several weeks. But Murphy’s Law was not done with me. The largest local optical shop turned out to have only a few eyeglass frames that would fit my small head, and none that I could live with. The following week I made a special trip into Portland (about an hour away) to shop at the big eyeglass chains. One turned out to have a large selection of “youth” frames, and I chose one I was reasonably happy with. This is the kind of shop that makes your glasses up while you wait, but it turned out the wait would be three hours, and I didn’t have that long. I made do with my scotch tape repair for another three days, until Saturday, when I could make the drive back to Portland to pick up my glasses after my morning singing rehearsal.
On Saturday, I set the alarm (something I almost never do) for 6:30 a.m., allowing plenty of time to get showered and dressed, have breakfast, get everything organized for a day out, and get to my rehearsal by its 9:00 a.m. start. But then, as I was about to go out the door, I realized I didn’t have my purse – and I couldn’t find it anywhere. (The purse in question is a small fabric shoulder bag, barely larger than a wallet.) I did a quick search of the house, but no luck. No driver’s license, no credit cards, no cash – and I was going to be late for my rehearsal. I drove very cautiously, not wanting to have to explain my absent license to a police officer, and managed to arrive at the singing rehearsal before the vocal warm-up exercises were finished.
During rehearsal, part of my brain was busy trying to figure out where my purse could be. I began to wonder if I had left it at the Franco Center where we had rehearsed on Thursday evening, and I decided to stop there on the way home to see if I could get in and look for it. I found the building open for a group of dancers rehearsing in the performance space. I slipped in quietly to check the spot where I thought I might have left my purse, briefly explaining my presence to one of the dancers – but I didn’t find the lost purse. Back home, I ransacked my house (which isn’t that large), checking every closet and drawer and even the basement, but without luck. I was running out of possibilities. Could my chimney sweep have somehow scooped it up with his belongings the day before when I was paying him after he cleaned my chimney? If he had, I reasoned, he would have called me as soon as he discovered it. So I ran out to the kitchen to check my answering machine; and found the message light blinking!
The message was not from my chimney guy, but from one of the dancers at the Franco Center. They had found my purse! One of them had then used her smart phone to Google the name and address on my license, found my phone number, and called me. I got in my car and rushed back over there to find the dancers in the parking lot, just getting into their cars to leave. When they saw me, they got out of their cars and explained that they had tucked my purse away in a cupboard for safety. They all waited in the parking lot (they were going out for a meal after their five-hour rehearsal) while one of them accompanied me back inside to show me where my purse was hidden, and I was reunited with my driver’s license, credit cards, health insurance cards, and cash.
I was once again reminded of the kindness of most Mainers. Even when I realized that my purse had probably been missing for more than 24 hours, I never seriously worried that my identity had been stolen or credit cards maxed out or my bank account emptied. But even I was surprised by how much trouble this group of women had gone to to look for my purse when they learned I had lost it, to search for my contact information and call me, to hide my purse away in a safe place until I could retrieve it, and to delay their well-deserved meal while they helped me out. As I told them in the thank-you note I sent the next day, in a time when the news is full of people behaving badly, it was good to be reminded that most people are good. They had restored my faith in humankind.