I was in Naperville (well, technically Bollingbrook) on Saturday and my wallet was stolen from my purse at a Jewel-Osco. The details aren’t what I’m most interested in, but because I’m sure you’re at least somewhat curious, here’s what I’m pretty sure happened:
On our way out (literally in the doorway), a woman abruptly stopped right in front of my friend Lauren and me saying she said she had dropped her contact. Lauren was practically on her hands and knees helping her look for it while I was just kind of zoned out, looking down. The woman ended up walking away saying she found the contact in her eye or something (which I remember thinking was a little strange). When we got in the car, our other friend, Beth, who was with us commented on how there were people behind us who had budded in front of her on their way out. Beth said they seemed agitated and in a hurry and pushed their way in between us.
I didn’t think anything of all this until I put the pieces together and realized the woman who “dropped” her contact was intentionally creating a distraction while the people behind us reached into my purse and took my wallet. They proceeded to get away with spending $900 at Target (which fortunately won’t be charged to the account- high credit card interest rates serving their purpose) and they tried to spend more money at various other places. I also had a pretty substantial amount of cash in my wallet, substantial on the basis of my paycheck at least.
Anyways, I say all that to say this: I keep asking the what-if questions. What if we went to a different Jewel? Or I had a different purse? What if I went to the self check-out aisle or was in a different line? What if we all waited while Annie ran back to buy ice? What if I hadn’t been the one driving to Jewel? What if I went back to get the receipt for what I bought so I could send in the rebate? What if I parked in a different place and ended going out a different exit? What if we had shopped faster or slower or went at a different time? What if I hadn’t paid in cash for Kirstin’s gift and had another $35 in my wallet?
Do you remember that scene from Benjamin Button? The one where the woman gets hit by the car and after she gets hit the scenes go in reverse, revealing every detail of what lead to the timing of her crossing the street at the exact time of the car that hit her. I remember being struck by that part of the movie when I saw it – it stuck with me.
I can only imagine the number of tragedies, blessings, and miracles, we experience and are usually completely unaware of because they fall in line with what we have come to expect or anticipate. But what about the times when we notice the “coincidences” or become aware of the anomalies? What makes those different?
I guess the question is, what is guiding or controlling our lives – both the things we do and the things that happen to us? Does someone see all of it, even the stuff we don’t notice as abnormal or noteworthy?
I’m aware that the what-if game is often more hurtful than productive. I think, though, sometimes it’s worth spending some time in. That’s where I am today.