His name is Pamela Williams.
Its story begins on a cold winter day in early January – the kind of day you’d like to be able to stay at home, sipping cups of hot chocolate and just relaxing. That cold January day, however, was certainly not so. It was the day of the doctor’s appointment with Pamela and Jason’s five-year-old son.
The pediatric allergy specialist the Williams family had been commissioned to see was near Manhattan. The consultation went well. They left the office, satisfied, but with some reservations as to whether or not to fully follow the regiment of medicines prescribed for Johnny’s rash.
Being so close to Jason’s business associates gave them good reasons to continue their adventure in the commercial district of Manhattan. They parked in a city and made the long, cold trek in the man’s office. Pamela and Johnny marveled at the diverse characters who made up the hordes of crowds on the sidewalks. As exciting as it is, it left them with an unusual sense of chaos and disorder.
Jason, as a guide, seemed to be in control. He skillfully guided Pamela and Johnny through the labyrinth of humanity. Eventually they reached the destination building. On the elevator, along the corridor, through the security doors. In the end they had made it.
While Jason was conferring with the lord of the office, Pamela was busy in the anteroom conversing with Johnny. Everything seemed to be going pretty well.
The hour passed late when the trio left the gray office building. As impossible as it seemed, the harsh reality was that the crowds on the streets and sidewalks of Manhattan had increased at least twice. Stay together, stay together, Pamela thought as the panic began to rise.
Pamela and Johnny ran halfway, halfway to keep up with Jason’s fast pace. Pamela squeezed Johnny’s hand tightly. Crowds made it impossible to walk in line all the time, but they watched each other vigilantly. Eventually they reached the busy post office. Together they entered. Together they went down the steps to the letter boxes. Jason took his key, opened the box and retrieved the mail. They prepared for another meeting with the mad rush of the human mass.
As they left the building, Pamela recognized a certain uncomfortable lightness. Something was not right. Pamela instinctively took her pocket book. There was not!
“Where’s my wallet?” Pamela’s voice took on a high, artificial tone. He quickly rummaged in the bag of the various things he had brought lunch to. No pocket book!
As the masses swarmed, Pamela felt sweat pouring and panic increased. Jason’s face mirrored the emotions.
They retraced their steps. No, post office security had no idea of a missing pocket book. No sign on the floor or ledge. No paperback book anywhere. The crowds crept into an endless stream.
Suddenly, it registered in Pamela’s mind! He had left the paperback – IN HIS HUSBAND ASSOCIATE’S OFFICE! Pamela’s body heat dropped by one degree. Yes, she was almost certain … She had put the notebook on the floor next to her chair while handing over lunch to Johnny … UNLESS … Pamela knew she had escorted Johnny a few times to … BATHROOM!
Quickly, they went back to the office building. The entrance was locked. No sign of any security guard. Pamela was sure of it, however. His notebook was there, hopefully, innocently placed on the floor in the antechamber of the 5th floor office. The only thing that gnawed her brain was the thought that perhaps – only maybe – she had left it in the women’s bathroom, accessible to anyone …
Pamela pushed the unpleasant thought aside. They crossed the crowd, pausing for a few moments to put a particular credit card on hold. The rest should wait. Pamela wasn’t sure what credit cards she had in her wallet and – moreover – had the feeling, albeit slightly shaky, that everything would be fine in the morning.
They traveled home, chatting lightly and avoiding the terror that crept cautiously.
That night passed honestly without incident.
The next morning Pamela anxiously anticipated the joyful news of a solitary paperback book on the floor of her associate husband’s office. Unfortunately, joy never came. In her place a terrible feeling of intense terror took her heart.
“Didn’t find him? Are you sure? Did he look everywhere?”
Yes, apparently it had. Convincing him to enter and search the women’s room hadn’t been too successful, but Jason had allowed him to recruit at least one female to explore it. The results: NIL! NOTHING!
Pamela wanted to pass out that moment. There in the recesses of his wallet there were credit cards, his passport, his green card, his birth certificate (since he needed it to travel abroad he hadn’t had the opportunity to put them away – how much irresponsible, he told himself now) his checkbook, his health insurance card, his social security card, his children’s social security cards … Pamela’s head took on a very serious form of pain.
The calls have started.
“Yes, I’m canceling.” Pamela was told the customer service team of each of the umpteenth credit cards she thought had been lost. The strange thing about her questions that recent purchases had been recorded was that she was repeatedly told no. Why, he thought, why shouldn’t a thief use an irresistible credit card? He knew that a credit card lost in the hands of an unscrupulous character was like candy in the hands of a child. The same was true of his checking account. No recent transactions. Strange…
Then it popped up on Pamela.
His whole “I” was in that paperback book. Pamela imagined her Canadian passport, her social security card, too many identity cards that mockingly danced before her eyes. How foolish it was to walk around with this when others locked documents like these under lock and key!
While Pamela sent calls to the various agencies involved in identity theft, her mind reproduced real life videos of a cowardly terrorist walking on the streets on the pretext of a woman with a very Anglo-Saxon sounding name.
Pamela anxiously attempted to make a police report on her lost (or – swallowed – stolen) paperback. It became evident that a police report would require a visit in person to the fence closest to the leak. Getting back to Manhattan wasn’t going to be easy.
And when the seriousness of the situation took hold, Pamela understood that obtaining a replacement for a social security card entailed the presentation to the authorities of an identity document, such as a license, a birth certificate, a green card, a passport. . .. and that obtaining a replacement for the myriad of other documents that he had lost (or that had been stolen) entailed the presentation … of the same various forms of identity. Pamela got lost in a sea, grappling with life jackets that weren’t there!
Suddenly he hit Pamela like a ton of bricks. It was a non-entity! To nobody! Without the documents attesting to its existence, Pamela Williams did not officially exist. It was a thought that almost swept me off his feet. Suddenly she didn’t have to drive, she wasn’t allowed to leave the country, … What if it was necessary by her parents in Montreal? What if there was some emergency? What happens if?…
Pamela’s mind refused to wander further. He frantically went to work to get a birth certificate. He thought it would be the beginning of a passport, an American green card, a social security card, a license … Would the list finally be over?
It seemed that all applications also required a fee. In this substantial regard.
As the list of commissions came to Jason’s attention, he came to the conclusion that they should have waited – just a little longer. Perhaps the notebook would still appear in the office. Maybe someone had found it and still reported it. Nobody had used credit cards, nobody had tried to withdraw money from the bank …
It was a glimmer of hope, but weak in light of the fact that now Pamela had nightmares of a dark and clandestine figure with her identity that made her (or – could it be him?) Left rounds in the dark spots of the disco where other terrorists meet to plot.
Pamela postponed the green card request for the time being. His task in recovering his Canadian birth rights has continued. By enlisting the help of his former teacher who was now headmaster of the school he had attended, he managed to obtain a letter claiming that he was Pamela Williams, known as such for x years. The precious letter waited on Pamela’s dining room table along with too many other applications he had acquired. He waited. At the moment.
Life has taken a different shape. It has evolved around Pamela’s situation. He got up in the morning with the terror of being in trouble with his identity. He sent the children to school with the same terror. While doing the laundry, Pamela dreamed of being rescued by a hero who had located her wallet. And while shopping, he decided to live in the shadow of an alien who had his precious documents. Although life was dancing joyfully around her in the form of health and family life, she lacked full rhythm. It seemed that not only had Pamela’s identity cards been taken away, but with that her inner happiness had been torn.
Life has gone on. One morning while Pamela was ready to send the application that would be the catalyst for the others once processed – her birth certificate – she picked up the ringing phone.
“Pamela?” Jason looked happier than usual.
“Hi how are you?” Pamela answered in the monotone that had recently taken on the voice.
“I have good news,” he said.
“Good news? What is it?” she asked.
“Guess what,” he said.
“Guess what? I can’t guess now,” he said. “I’m so busy – what is it?”
“Guess what,” he said. What would be the good news now? “
“Who won the playoffs? I don’t really have time for games now. What is it?”
“It’s not about games,” said Jason. “It’s something you’ve lost.”
There was a long silence as Pamela stopped to digest her goad.
In a very small voice, almost in a whisper, he said, “My wallet? Has anyone found my book?”
“They found him in the office. Just sitting there, Pamela.”
“Wow.” She said softly. “They really found it. Thank goodness! But … I don’t understand. Why did it take three whole weeks to discover my notebook sitting clearly in the corner on the floor?”
There was silence on the other side.
“Wow!” he kept repeating. “I feel like a heavy weight has been lifted from my heart. Thanks.”
Pamela put the receiver on her cradle and sat down. Three long weeks had passed since his notebook was missing. Three weeks full of apprehension and terror. Pamela wanted to dance, celebrate, sing. Instead, she sat down thoughtfully and savored her newfound relief.
Life has really taken a fresh refreshing wave. From that heavy period of Pamela’s life, she has learned to be much more careful with her personal data. Your passport and documentation are secure. Credit cards and the Internet are treated with respect. And he also added identity theft coverage to his insurance policy for New Jersey homeowners.
Accidents in relation to the panorama of life are nothing but fantastic. Small but important changes are needed to acquire the priceless gift of tranquility.