I had to go to the girl scout store the other day to get a few last minute items for the girls. And by a few last minute items I mean all the things I was supposed to be accumulating over the course of the year but didn't - I can procrastinate with the best of them, as long as I can do it tomorrow. They actually had everything I needed, so I happily went to the checkout counter and started digging in my purse for the troop checkbook. And I dug, and I dug, until I started to feel slightly panicky.
I excused myself to the woman behind the counter and went out to the car, frantically digging through all the trash in the floorboards and all the random stuff in the seats, until I remembered that I had put the checkbook in one of the bags I bring to meetings. I heaved a sigh of relief and went back inside, arranging to have my purchases held until the next day.
After work and dinner with my in-laws, I went home, got the kids settled in bed and went to get the checkbook from the bag. I encountered a slight problem when it was not there. So I did a little more digging, and a little more rifling, and every time I searched through something I would be absolutely certain that the checkbook had to be there, and then it wasn't. Anxiety building, I went back out to the car and did a cursory search, but still nothing.
I spent the rest of the evening, until 1AM, searching through various, assorted and very random places in my apartment ("Maybe it's in the vanity drawer in the master bathroom!"), and turned up nothing. I finally forced myself to go to bed, trying to reassure myself that it would turn up the next day. But I didn't manage to fall asleep, because I spent the next two hours doing this: "Ok, sleep, sleep, go to sleep....wait, maybe it's in the laundry room!" and then I would get up and search the laundry room, to no avail. Then I would lay back down and do it all over again: "Alright, going to sleep now....wait, what if I put it in my household binder? I bet that's where it is!" and so on and so on, until it was after 3AM and I was driving myself absolutely insane.
This morning dawned long before I was prepared for it, and after shuttling Bella off to school I settled back into my random searching of places-it-couldn't-possibly-be-but-I-hoped-beyond-hope it might be. After getting frustrated with the house, I decided to search the car again, so I grabbed Bubba and a lawn-sized garbage bag (my car was really filthy) and started cleaning out the car. Roughly a half hour and a stuffed full lawn-sized bag of trash later, I still couldn't find the checkbook. I had felt panicky before, but at that point I was officially panicking.
Losing my personal checkbook would have been stressful, but losing the scouts checkbook made me feel absolutely terrible. It's one thing to be irresponsible with your own things, but to be irresponsible with something that belongs to a bunch of little girls...that hurts. Those girls and their parents worked hard for that money, and it is entrusted to my care, and...well, I felt like I had let them down. I was also worried that I had dropped the checks somewhere and some less than honest person had found them. I wouldn't want to explain to sixteen young girls that they can't have a Build-A-Bear party because I lost their checks and someone stole their money. That would be disastrous.
I sat down on the sofa and decided to declare it officially lost. At that point I had been on the hunt for over twelve hours, and I saw no point in continuing. Small apartment, small car, only so many places to look. I had to 'fess up, and not only did I feel horribly guilty I felt kind of embarrassed. "Yeah, I know you trusted me with this hard earned money and stuff, and I'm a grown woman who should be able to manage such things, but I lost the checkbook. Some criminal probably picked it up somewhere and is at Rent-A-Center right now, writing a troop check for a big screen TV and a micro-suede couch. My bad."
I sat down at the computer and sent an e-mail to the leader in charge of finances, letting her know what I had managed to do and asking her to call me. I called one of the other leaders and told her about it, feeling utterly horrible about myself. While I was talking to her I realized that my cell phone was about to die, so I walked over to the charger and plugged it in. I was yammering about how bad I felt when I looked down at a box of girl scout stuff in front of me, a box of girl scout stuff I had emptied and searched through twice in the course of my search, and there was the missing checkbook. Not only right in front of my face, but even sticking out a half inch or so.
I think I was taught a lesson in humility today. I didn't find what I was missing until after I had to shamefacedly admit to others what I had done. Others whom I had been criticizing just the day before for (of all things!) their lack of organizational skills. I'm not suggesting divine intervention here or anything, I'm certain God is much too busy to come down, hide, and then later replace an item in an attempt to stop me from gossiping, but no matter why it happened, I'm picking up what was laid down.