You know what sucks? Having your wallet stolen. From your purse. While you are having a drink at your friend’s bar. While another friend is guest-bartending and whose tips are going to Prostate Cancer Research. Yup. It sucks. This happened to me on Monday night and I was one of three girls who got so lucky at that bar that night. Yes, some loser managed to get into the purses belonging to three of us. It is such a sickening feeling when you go to reach into your purse and you just know: something is missing. I’m a cautious girl. I always have a cross-strap purse so it is usually always on my person and if it’s not, I hang it on a hook in front of me while sitting at the bar. I always have a purse with a full zipper so one cannot easily reach into it. I am a photographer. I’m observant. I’m aware of my surroundings. So is Josh. He’s a bartender. He is used to scanning a room and knowing everything that is going on there. Yet on Monday night, we both missed it. That night I had put my purse on the back of my stool and thrown my big, long winter jacket over top. I sat in between a friend and Josh. What is there to worry about?! The person who took it was obviously on a mission and I will forever regret letting my guard down. Having your wallet stolen is one word: awful.
Replacing Your Cards
In case you have never experienced a lost or stolen wallet, the first thing you MUST do is call your bank to immediately cancel your debit and credit cards. We did this as soon as we got home and the man on the phone told me that already there had been an attempt to use my Visa at a restaurant in Chinatown. While I was on the phone dealing with the bank, Josh called the restaurant and got a vague description of the people. You know, just in case. I have spent more time on the phone since Monday evening than I have in the past two months, all in an attempt to replace my cards. Doing so takes a lot of patience and listening and repeating all the answers to all the security questions over and over again. Luckily, I had recently cleared my wallet of all cards that I rarely use but there was still a lot that need(s)ed to be replaced. When you call the bank to cancel those cards, they will then issue you a new credit card. This takes a few days to then receive which means, at the moment I feel that part of my life is on hold. I currently cannot place print orders for clients because I do not have a credit card to pay for said order. You have no idea how frequently you use a credit card until you do not have one. Debit cards are more easy to replace. You just need to go to your nearest bank and they will issue you a new one (just bring photo ID such as your password and be prepared to answer more security questions). While it is easy to do, my wallet was stolen on Monday night. On Tuesday all of the banks were closed due to Remembrance Day. So were most Service Ontario locations where I would need to go to get a new driver’s license and health card. The problem was, I needed my license that evening because we had a meeting scheduled with our wedding officiant to which I had to drive to. I managed to find one Service Ontario location that was open on the 11th. I had enough change to get on the streetcar and the plan was to attend the Remembrance Day ceremony at City Hall and then head to Service Ontario afterwards to take care of business. All was cool until after the ceremony when I realised that I had no money on my person to pay for any replacement cards. Luckily Josh had some cash and his work was close by so I managed to
steal borrow some from him. To replace your Health Card, it is free. To replace your Driver’s license, it costs $25. Go figure. Next task was to put a hold on my Optimum card. Sure, you may not think in the grand scheme of life, that it is very important but I have enough points to equal about $40. Those are some precious points that I needed to protect. So I called them. They put a hold on my card and told me to go to any Shopper’s to get a new card. My points will then be transferred to that card within four weeks. Next was to deal with Nexus. You see, I had JUST received this card on the Friday. (I am sure that the government will now question how responsible I am.) I called them because that is what the letter that I received with the card told me to do. I was then prompted to leave a voicemail. Someone called me back from that office today telling me that I have to ask for a replacement card by ordering one on my GOES profile online and it costs $25 and I will then have to go to the airport for another appointment. Cool. Except that I cannot order it since I do not currently have a credit card to pay for said replacement on their website. Besides losing my money, I also lost a number of irreplaceable things: TTC tokens, stamps (I love real mail), $140 in cash and school photos of my nieces and nephew. So not cool.
The Creep Factor
Besides the annoyance of having to replace everything in your wallet, there is also the creep factor. Especially when you know that someone purposely took your wallet from you. This person now knows everything about me. They have my home address, driver’s license number and my health car number. They know who the important people are in my life. They know what I do since there was also a stack of business cards in there. I also had a copy of my car insurance policy in there so that means that they know what car I drive, the license plate number and my insurance policy number. Talk about creepy. (I did call my insurance provider and had them add a security question onto my profile should anyone call them to attempt to make any changes to my policy.) We have a rule in our house that phones are not allowed to be in the bedroom but for the past few nights as Josh works late into the morning, I have to admit that mine has been sitting on my bedside table. I’m a little creeped out by the idea that someone knows virtually everything about me. I am one of those people who shreds anything with my name and/or address on it. I’m cautious. I never tag my home location on Instagram. I’m aware of these things. (I hope that you do realise that when you make that cute little location name on your Instagram for your home, that we can see exactly where you are, right? Let’s try to all be a little safer with that.)
That Perfect Wallet
Besides all of the serious stuff about losing my wallet, I’m also gutted by losing the actual wallet. I was seriously in love with that thing. I used to get compliments on it all of the time. It was a Matt & Nat Motiv wallet similar to the one above. I love Matt & Nat products. They’re vegan and made in Canada. Mine was a beautiful vegan suede with the perfect number of card slots plus an opening for photos, a change compartment and even a zippered one that was perfect for token. That wallet was a dream and I totally miss having it.
But Seriously, What is Going on, Toronto?!
By no means am I going to equate my stolen wallet experience with what else has been happening in our city as of late but I do have to say that this has only added to a lot of the negativity and fear that I am currently feeling in Toronto. We are a better city than what we have been in recent weeks. An attempted abduction with a hacksaw at College and Brock on Sunday?! Two women robbed and violently assaulted near Kensington Market?! No longer do I feel that I can freely walk the streets of my city and that is terrifying. I find myself planning my days and nights a little better. No longer will I be working late into the night at the studio to then take the streetcar home. As mentioned earlier, on Tuesday I went to the Remembrance Day ceremony at Old City Hall as I do every year. It is one of those things that I think is important to do and I wish that more would attend it. I walked there along Queen and when I got there, on the corner at Bay Street was a man holding some very racist signs. There were words on there that I will never repeat but I will say that they said things along the lines that Canada needs to be “saved”. It was 100% the wrong place to be to protest anything, especially of that nature and I was appalled. I stopped in front of this stone-faced man and all I could do was look with disgust. I could not even find words to spit out. A woman started yelling at him to leave and a police officer started talking to him quietly. He stayed stone-faced and started walking. Then out of nowhere, a 20-something year old ripped the signs from his pole and told him to get out of there. They started pushing one another and then more police officers came. The woman started pushing him and yelling and we all watched. I had tears in my eyes. On such an incredibly important day of Remembrance, especially in the wake of what recently happened in Ottawa, this was happening here. A nun sat beside me on the streetcar that day and as she got up to leave she leaned over to me and simply said, “Have faith.” I’m a’gonna try. Toronto, we are better than this. Let’s do better. Let’s look after each other a little better.
Pro Tips from this experience
– Never let your guard down while in public. I’m proud in that this is the first time that I have ever been robbed. I am always normally aware of my surroundings. Know where you are. Be aware if a stranger is too close to you.
– Always have a purse that closes tight with a zipper or a flap or both. Always keep that purse on your person. Never let it go.
– It is a good idea to keep a piece of ID and a spare $20 separate from your wallet in case you lose it. That way you are not left completely naked or abandoned.
– Take the time to make a photocopy of every card in your wallet. Both the front and backs of them. Keep this hidden away somewhere so should you lose your wallet, you know exactly what was in it. This is especially a good idea to do when traveling out of the country. Keep a photocopy of your important documents (including your passport!) stashed in your suitcase just in case. It will make your life so much easier should you find yourself in this situation.
– Bar managers: keep your eye on who is in your establishment. Look out for anyone who is acting suspicious. Have hooks under you bars so we can hang our jackets and purses. Protect the people who are spending their hard-earned money on you.
– Establishments: look at the name on the credit card that a customer gives you. Make sure that the name matches up. If you are suspicious of anything, ask for a photo ID.