What's In Your Wallet?
The typical man, eschewing as he does any bag or carrying case that could be mistaken for a purse, has a ton of crap in his wallet. Ask most guys to show you his wallet, and he'll pull from his pocket an inches-thick leather folder stuffed with old receipts, grocery store club cards, half-used gift cards, and the other detritus that wallets tend to collect. I'm no different, but recently I've been forced to re-evaluate the giant pile of paper and plastic I lug around in my pants pocket every day.
I should back up a bit and and give a little context, first. For the past several years I've been telling Juliette--at about one-month intervals--that I need a new wallet. My old wallet was too big, and I had never really intended to use it in the first place, it being merely a leftover that I put into service when the smaller front-pocket wallet it came with finally crapped out. Of course, inertia being so powerful, I continued to use that big crappy wallet for years, all the while annoying the bejesus out of my long-suffering wife.
Finally though, that wallet, like its predecessor, started to fall apart at the seams. Several months later, I bit the bullet and bought another one.
Picking out a new wallet, like picking out a new pair of glasses, is always difficult for me. This one is ugly, that one is the wrong color, this one is too big, that one doesn't have enough space in it. I nearly always find myself taking a turn through the wallet section when I'm in a department store, and I usually wind up throwing my hands up in frustration (and causing Juliette to roll her eyes).
This time, I decided to make a move to end this hassle once and for all. I've been eyeing the briefcases at Saddleback Leather for a while now, and it turns out that their wallets come with the same 100-year warranty as their bags. Problem solved! I'll just shell out thirty or forty bucks for one of those--not even that much more than a department store wallet--and never have to get another one ever again.
The new wallet arrived on Monday, and it's very nice looking and feels durable. I'm sure it will age as well as its manufacturer claims. But it did leave me with one problem: the new wallet only holds a fraction of what my old one did. What's more, since the leather is still new and stiff, the pockets haven't yet stretched to the point where they can accommodate even what the manufacturer claims.
Now, I know, this is practically the Platonic ideal of the First World Problem. Clearly, nobody is going to die or even be seriously inconvenienced--not even me--just because I can't carry around fourteen different loyalty cards anymore. But because I am ever-so-slightly eccentric (this is the polite way of saying I am completely obnoxious and a royal pain to live with), the thought of arriving at Boudin Bakery without my Boudin Frequent Buyer Card (and, thus, with no way to redeem my $5 Frequent Buyer Reward) makes me feel a little panicky.
And it's not just the possibility of missing out on discounts. For some reason, my collection of wallet flotsam seems like an extension of myself, as though I am at least in part defined by the stack of crap in my right pocket. It almost feels that by cutting out part of that stack, I'm cutting off part of my body. A small part, admittedly--one that I don't really need and hardly ever use. The appendix, perhaps.
I'm committed to the new wallet, though. This new wallet is going to be like my new best friend, the one that comes along with me on all of my adventures; through thick and through thin, come Hell or high water, my new wallet and I are sticking together.
So, after a long session spent winnowing down the mass of nonsense from my old wallet, this is what I'm left with:
- My driver's license and auto insurance card
- Medical and dental insurance cards
- FSA debit card
- AAA membership card
- Two personal credit cards
- Two personal debit cards
- Business credit card
- Business debit card
- Costco membership card
- Library card
- Season passes to the San Diego Zoo, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, and SeaWorld
- A "what to do if your child is missing" info card with a recent picture of Jason
- Four business cards
- A sheet of first-class stamps
I've abandoned all of the store loyalty cards. I won't be getting any more free popcorn at the movies, but that's OK. I came to terms with the fact that I wasn't actually going to spend the $1.17 left on the Macy's gift card I got for Christmas two years ago. The old receipts were trashed or filed. Or put in the pile of things waiting to be filed. My right pocket is lighter than it's been in years.
But even now, after all that, my wallet is still crowded and I'm still carrying around stuff I don't really need. Have I ever actually gone to the Science Center on the spur of the moment, without being able to grab my pass beforehand? And that second bank account has about $50 in it--when am I ever going to need to take money out of there without going home first?
These questions have been niggling in the back of my mind all week. If history is any guide, I'm sure I'll have them resolved before Jason goes off to college. Probably.