Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Death of a Diaper Bag

Death of a Diaper Bag
Joanna Djos-Tobin

I am the owner of the diaper bag that you stole last night. I assume you took it from my vehicle while I was sleeping. My 14-month-old daughter was screaming and I, in a frenzied mess, became distracted and accidentally left it on my front seat. I woke up to discover it missing.

This naturally caused a lot of distress.

Let me tell you the story of my diaper bag. It was a gift given to me by my husband. It was the strangest bag I had ever laid eyes on. It was red and blue leather and had an adjustable strap. I named it my “man bag”. It was obviously a bag not designed for my gender but I very much enjoyed its uniqueness and grew to love my manbag. It was a perfect size to carry a couple of diapers, a sippy cup and my wallet. I think about my manbag, lonely in some corner of an unfamiliar room like a kidnap victim awaiting duct tape, or thrown on the backseat of a strange car, or perhaps my manbag is in a dumpster, awaiting burial in a landfill. I never got to say goodbye.

I can only imagine the sheer disappointment you must’ve experienced at realizing that all of my credit cards were maxed out. I was hoping you might cut me some slack, seeing the two car seats in my vehicle and the obvious lack of cash in my wallet. But no, crime, like nature is indifferent. The fact that I am a mother holds no significance. I wonder about your own mother. Does she know you stole from the mom of two small children?

Maybe you are a mother yourself, or someone’s beautiful son or daughter. I have a strange fascination with who you are. Using my debit card, you managed to drain my last forty dollars from my bank account. This was the last forty dollars that I was counting on to get us through until payday. In my head I had budgeted up my last forty dollars as follows: fifteen for gas, twenty-five for groceries. It would be tight but it would be just enough for three days. That is how we live. You see, we’re a creative sort and make our living from the arts. I’m not an accountant, or brain surgeon or car salesman-just a stay at home mom and lowly part time barista by night. We live paycheck to paycheck. We do not own the car you broke into, or the driveway or the house our car was parked next to. We owe the bank for the car and are renters. Hell, you probably have more cash on hand than we do. But all this was not taken into account. Instead, you took my forty dollars and gassed up your car, rented a movie and treated yourself to a meal at McDonald’s.

In my bag was my wallet containing my driver’s license, social security card, my maxed out credit cards, my food workers permit, medical insurance card and various library cards and supermarket discount cards. I must admit I feel rather naked without any identification. I cannot write a check, or legally drive a car or purchase alcohol. I cannot conduct business at my bank or vote. I am in essence, without any verification of my existence. It must be documented and carried on my person, should a bus hit me, so that the proper authorities can notify my loved ones so they can dispose of my remains appropriately.

At this moment I sit, waiting for my number to be called at the DMV while herding two very bored, hungry, tired children. I hold a tattered number slip in my hand. There are twenty people ahead of us. It was difficult to verify my identity without a driver’s license or social security card; I needed the appropriate supporting documentation according to the DMV policies and procedures. This was necessary for security measures, especially with the ongoing terror threat. After submitting a pile of tax forms, my marriage license, school records, immunization records, birth certificate, pap smear results and other appropriate documents the DMV clerk finally took a gamble on assuming my identity, after consulting with his co-worker and finally retrieving my original drivers license picture on their computer systems. On the wall is a sign with the words “IN GOD WE TRUST,” an eagle and American flag billowing patriotically in the background. I wonder if this would apply if God needed a driver’s license or identification card. What type of documentation they would require from a supreme being? Perhaps there would be an exemption with a supervisor’s approval.

It will take time but eventually I will heal from the loss of my diaper bag. I have since acquired a spacious daypack to cart around my children’s diapers and graham crackers. Perhaps one day we will pass each other on the street and I will not know you and you will not know me. But you certainly have created an impact on my life, a series of inconveniences and annoyances, hurdles and paperwork, headaches and long hold times with customer services representatives. I hope the cheeseburger was worth it.

No comments: