Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Lucky in so many ways

We’d spent the day at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico, seeing things I’d never seen before – cliff dwellings – and camping in a terrific campground. But now we were off to Taos via Los Alamos. But as we drove into Los Alamos, I saw an even bigger sight: white tents! White tents mean farmers markets or craft fairs or art shows. “Tim, stop the car! And, oh, look! There’s a bagel place.”

Anchorage has lost its real-bagel places. The only one left makes bread and shapes it into circles and calls them bagels, but they’re not. I wanted a real bagel, a Ruby K’s Bagel CafĂ© bagel. I got two. Tim and I sat outside at their tables, loved the bagels and how pleasant it all seemed, and we were on our way to Taos.

 Somewhere along the way, the road did a little twisty thing along the edge of a mountain. There were those scary sharp arrow signs in a row – not even the curvy arrows: “Tim, slow down, you don’t know what’s ahead. You’re going too fast if the curve keeps curving. There are edges here!”


Yes, it’s my edge problem. My we’re-up-high-and-there’s-an-edge-to-the-drop problem. But it was brief and we were through. And then, halfway to Taos, I spotted a roadside stand. Roadside stands are right up there with white tents. “Stop the car!”

So I jumped out of the car, reached into the back seat for my fanny pack, and it wasn’t there! Where was my fanny pack! Did it slide forward off the seat? Had I shoved it into my daypack? No, the crushing realization loomed: I’d left it somewhere. The bagel place. I’d looped it over the chair outside.

 Cue the mindless blathering: “It has everything in it. Both our credit cards so now neither of them can be used. It has my vaccination card. It has that iPhone you gave me that I haven’t set up or charged. How can I be so stupid?

I remembered the dozen times I’ve left that fanny pack in movie theaters. I remembered the time I left it by the side of the road while fixing a flat in Costa Rica and, even though I realized it in seconds, with the one-way streets we had to go around the block and by the time we did, the fanny pack was gone and our credit card was buying pizza and candy and costume jewelry. “I have just totally fucked up. I have to stop this. I have to tie that thing around my waist no matter how stupid it looks. I have to never do this again.”

Tim turned the car around. The GPS lady went crazy: “Make a U-turn at some place and return to New Mexico 68 north.” Tim said, “Call the restaurant.”

“How do I turn off the GPS lady so I can Google the restaurant? “Make a U-turn at some place and return to New Mexico 68 north.” How do I make her stop? “Make a U-turn at some place and return to New Mexico 68 north.”

I dug out the receipt from the restaurant. It had a phone number on it. “Make a U-turn at some place and return to New Mexico 68 north.” How do I stop her so I can phone???

And, of course, all the while, I’m blathering about what a fuck up I am, how I have to stop leaving this stupid fanny pack in places. Tim is calmly driving back. GPS lady is yelling at us. Somehow, I get her to go away. I phone the restaurant. No one answers. Their mailbox is full.

I remember there was a Starbucks next door. I manage to Google “Starbucks Los Alamos.” There are two. One seems right. I tell the man that I can’t reach Ruby’s, that I have left my fanny pack outside, does he have a number for Ruby, can he check? He says he’ll go outside and look. It’s not there. Ruby is closed and doesn’t reopen till 8 a.m.

Tim says, “We’ll get a room in Los Alamos tonight.”

I Google “Los Alamos Police Department.” My hands are shaking so bad that I’m Googling Los Alanow Polive and Lps Alampa Polive and everything else till I finally get it right. (You realize I’m still blathering about being a fuck-up and how am I going to get this fanny pack purse carry thing right.)

I tell the dispatcher I’m a tourist and we were driving to Taos when I realized I’d left my fanny pack at Ruby K’s and maybe somebody turned it in but I don’t know how to reach Ruby and they’re closed but maybe she can find out how to phone Ruby’s owner? She says she’ll call me back.

More blather, more hysteria. Tim calmly driving. We get to the scary road part with curves and edges, and I whisper to Tim, “You remember this part means slowing down.” He does.

We get to Ruby K’s. The door says they closed at 2 p.m. A young girl is sitting outside.

“How long have you been here? Did you see a fanny pack on this chair?”

“I just got here. But the door is open. They’re inside.”

The door is open? I walk in. I say, “I left my fanny pack,” and without a word, the guy hands it to me.

The dispatcher calls to say she reached Ruby’s, and I tell her I’m holding the fanny pack. I go next door to thank the Starbucks guy and tell him it worked out.

I tell Tim I am going to write about this, about all the wonderful people who helped out. He asks, “Will I be the hero of this story?” I tell him yes, yes, YES! We get in the car. We drive through the scary, curvy part yet again. I don’t say a word. We get to Taos.

When I get out of the car, when we stop, I count and say out loud: “I am putting my fanny pack down, my sunglasses, my mask. Three things. When I leave, I have to pick up three things.” Maybe this will work.

The next day, we stop for a picnic. I count my things. As I’m packing up, I say, “Someone put the spoon away with the peanut butter still on it.”

Tim says, “The same someone who didn’t leave his fanny pack in Los Alamos.”


  1. Haha! Love the ending! Team Tim!
    I can feel your panic. We have all been there. I absolutely love my cross body Baggalini for travel. Never need to take it off!
    Good story Barbara. Yes, there is more good in the world than bad.

    1. Judith, I can picture you laughing and that makes me so happy, too. A week later and I haven't lost the fanny pack again. Yet.

  2. What?!! You got an iPhone?!! Yes, you are lucky. You will love it. As long as you don't leave it some place.

    1. Not so fast: The iPhone is only for this trip. Once I'm back with my landline, it's in the drawer.

  3. ...and breathe. Thank you for this quick Sunday morning thrill ride. It had me on the edge of my seat till the end. :)


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