The second day of November, 2009. A Monday. It started out uneventfully. Mid-morning, I decided to run some errands with the kids. Andrew was due to come home from deployment in 2 short days, and it was all I could think about. We stopped at Winco for some milk, and as I left the car I realized I didn't have my wallet with me. That's strange, I thought. But I wasn't too worried. I dug for some change in my purse and had enough to buy the milk. When I got home, I looked in the car for my wallet. It wasn't there. I looked around the house a bit and started to panic. When was the last time I had used it? I realized it was all the way back on Friday night, October 30th. Weird. I hadn't even seen it. I decided to entertain the possibility that my wallet could have been stolen. Leaving the kids downstairs to play, I ran up to the computer to check our credit card statement.
As I looked at the computer screen, my heart dropped like a ton of bricks. There was a charge for a huge amount from a strange terrorist-sounding vendor. Instantly I knew - my wallet was stolen. Shaking like a leaf and trying not to cry, I began the 3-hour process of calling all our financial accounts and cancelling and closing everything. Bank accounts, credit cards, everything. I made a detailed list of what had been in my wallet. I put a security hold on our credit so nobody could use our social security numbers. I called the police and filed a claim. A police man came to my house; I gave him our credit card statement and told him where I thought the wallet had been stolen - in the parking lot of Payless Shoes. They must have gotten in my purse somehow when I was putting the kids in the car, I thought. It was the only explanation. I left the kids with a friend to go to the bank and open all new accounts.
It was a long, mentally and emotionally exhausting day. I emailed Andrew to tell him what had happened, having no way to reach him otherwise. All I could do was wait until he called. I waited for a couple hours and then decided it wasn't likely he would call. I lay in bed thinking about the man who had my wallet, wondering if he would try to come after me. He had my whole life in his filthy little hands, and I was terrified for our safety.
I had just drifted off to sleep when the phone rang. I jumped to answer it, heart pounding when I saw it was Andrew. So relieved to hear his voice, I started crying and pouring out my whole sad story. He listened, and then said, "Honey, I bought a rug." He laughed halfheartedly as I realized what he was saying. My wallet was NOT stolen. That strange, humungous charge on our credit card was Andrew's doing, purchasing a handmade Turkish rug to surprise me. I didn't know what to feel. Relief in a way, but then total panic. What had I done? I had cancelled our entire financial existence. I had done things that could not easily be undone. And if my wallet wasn't stolen, where in the world was it?
With Andrew's direction, I ran down to the garage and tore apart the car, looking again for the wallet. No luck. I cried again, this time feeling so stupid, but frustrated. Of course, what else should I have done? It was purely bad luck that my wallet went missing the same time Andrew bought a Turkish rug. Neither of us knew the other thing would happen.
The next day, bright and early, I called Payless Shoes, thinking it was the only place it could be. That was where I had last used it, so it had to be there. The woman (whom Andrew had already called from Turkey) said she was very sorry, but there was no wallet there. Dejected, I hung up and ran to my craft room to be alone. I fell to my knees sobbing and praying. I told the Lord how badly I needed my wallet. My military ID was in there, and I wouldn't be able to pick Andrew up the next day without it. (At this point, Andrew was on a flight on his way back to the US.) I begged for help in finding my wallet. A moment later (after what I'm sure now was a prompting), I decided to go to the Payless parking lot. Maybe it had been stolen after all, but maybe the offender took the money and ditched the wallet in a bush or something. I loaded the kids up and, praying all the way, drove to Payless.
Around the parking lot I drove, peering in every little corner. I went into a Verizon store next door to ask if anyone had returned a wallet. No, they were very sorry. I was about to get in my car and leave when something told me I might as well just go in Payless and check ask them one more time. I was already there anyway - why not?
I walked in and got down on my hands and knees to look under the display racks. The saleswoman came up carrying a stack of boxes and looked at me curiously. I stood up and said, "I'm Stephanie Webb, the one who called this morning about the lost wallet. I just thought I would come in to..." She interrupted me and said, "We have your wallet!" She took off to the back room and brought it back triumphantly. "I didn't have your number to call you and tell you. I found it in a shelf back there. You must have just left it on the counter." I stammered a sincere thank you and ran to the car, where I once again burst into tears - this time tears of complete gratitude.
As I sniffed and sobbed, Eva said, "Mommy, are you happy?"
"Yes, Eva, I'm very, very happy. Heavenly Father helped my find my wallet!" We celebrated all the way home. And I've never gone back to Payless Shoes again.
With the rug purchase cancelled (I claimed it as fraudulent, of course) and my wallet restored, all was well. We were out a rug, but we had everything we really needed.
The twelfth day of January, 2010. A Tuesday. Andrew had come home from work for the day, and it was about 4pm. We were upstairs in the loft talking when he noticed a UPS truck outside. "Looks like it's coming to our house," he said. The doorbell rang seconds later and he ran downstairs to get the package. I wondered what it could be, as we hadn't ordered anything. He called up, "Honey, you'll never guess what we just got." I tried to guess. "A package from my mom?" He walked up the stairs holding a giant round bundle. Puzzled, I stopped what I was doing to watch him open it up.
He pulled back the wrapping to reveal...the Turkish rug. The ill-fated thing. It was absolutely beautiful. Despite knowing the exact price tag, I couldn't help but fall in love with it. It seemed impossible that it should be here, after the whole fraud business. We figured the Turkish man would curse that dishonest American and just not send the rug. But apparently something didn't work as we thought it had, because there we were, with the rug in our posession. We spread it out on our bedroom floor (it matched our wall color exactly), and decided we should keep the rug after all. So Andrew got online to pay for it while I admired the intricate design. But now, every time I look at the rug, I just have to smile.
It's definitely a rug with a history.