My name is Beatrice, Bea for short, and I've had a really strange day. Don't worry, I plan to tell you all about it. And there's a whole moral-to-the-story kind of vibe, so it'll be uplifting too. It ends with my detainment for an unexpected incident and begins with a shameful dissatisfaction of my life.
The same six steps every morning. One - Roll out of bed. Two - Use the bathroom (that pee can make a real difference on the scale!). Three - Weigh myself. Four, five, six - Check the calendar, make the bed, do some stretches. Gotta limber up to do dishes and laundry.
Each part of my day is filled with things I've counted just so I can mentally check them off when they're done. As if my life is only about making sure all the boxes are checked before I check out. Depressing sometimes.
One day just rolls into the next, looking exactly the same. Like there's no beginning or end to those twenty-four hours. They just blend. There are always meals to prepare, shopping to do, bills to pay, and chores.
It's become an absolutely plain existence. One that's tasteless, like a cardboard rice cake. And I was choking on it.
I was stuck in my world, just going through the motions, putting one foot in front of the other, but somehow I ended up in the craziest situation that changed everything.
* * *
The day started off with my usual routine and slowly progressed much the same as it always did. No surprise there. I worked out, showered, started another load of laundry and then headed out to get some shopping done at Big Wally's, our local has-a-bit-of everything store.
The sky had that false sunniness to it that promised rain later. We always got rain. I grabbed my umbrella just in case and headed into the building.
I had just grabbed a cart when my phone buzzed with a text from my bestie, Kit. I fired off a quick text back letting her know I was at Big Wally's. She immediately responded asking me to call her later with all the juicy details. Where did she think I was shopping? What a nut, but at least she put a smile on my face.
The smile quickly faded though when I passed Cosette, my exercise instructor, in the baking aisle. She was always hounding me about food choices, so I tried to discretely put the brownie mix back on the shelf. She kind of gave me the stink eye anyway, but I brushed it off and kept shopping. She wasn't the boss of me!
Unfortunately, I met up with her again in the check-out line. Her cart bumped into the back of my heels as I was unloading my brownie mix. I think she hit me on purpose.
Still thinking about giving Cosette a piece of my mind, it took me a moment to notice the words on the credit card machine. Declined.
My mouth flapped open and I wheezed out, "I have money, I swear!" Heart racing, I frantically dug around my purse trying to get out another credit card. The line behind me was growing. Cosette's judgmental stare burned into my back. Declined, again.
Oh my word. What was happening?
After the third card was declined, I began to profusely sweat, the back of my shirt now clingy. The young cashier looked visibly embarrassed for me and finally suggested that I should maybe call my bank.
In a daze, I walked away with no groceries and no pride. And apparently no gym as I sure as hell would not be seeing Cosette again if I could help it.
Deciding to wait until I got home to call the bank and credit card companies, I drove along some back roads in an attempt to calm my racing heart and frazzled nerves. Maybe I should call my husband.
Fingers hovering over the dial button, I paused as a siren caught my attention. My rearview showed a police car with its lights on coming up fast behind me. Slowing down, I tried to get over so he could pass but then realized he was actually pulling me over. What was with this day? This was not my normal.
Nerves shot, I was afraid I looked strung out. The officer would think I was on drugs. Great.
A knock on the window jolted me out of my crazy spiraling, causing me to hit the steering wheel. And the horn. Scaring the officer with sudden movements and loud noise didn't seem to help my situation any.
"Ma'am, I'm going to need you to step out of the vehicle."
"Ok, but don't you want to see my license and registration first?"
"Ma'am, just step out of the vehicle. Slowly, hands where I can see them."
Adrenaline was starting to kick in. Hands shaking, I opened the door and climbed out. Well, stumbled out. My foot got caught sending me crashing to the pavement.
Mortified for the second time that day, I stood slowly, brushing off gravel and checking myself for injuries. I felt brush burns on the heels of my hands. My pants were scuffed at the knee. I couldn't be sure, but I think the officer snorted a little before checking to see if I was ok.
"Ma'am, are you aware that this vehicle has been reported as stolen?"
My heart stopped. "What?" I managed to stammer out. "That's impossible! I bought this car brand new. It's paid off."
"Well, the license plate has been flagged as stolen. You don't look like you're out for a joy ride, so do you have proof of ownership?"
"Yes! If you would've just let me show you my license and regi—" my voice trailed off as he cleared his throat and pursed his lips, clearly telling me to shut up. I was lucky not to be in handcuffs.
I reached back in my car, getting the papers from the glove box.
"Ok, here's my insurance and registration, now let me get my license." Only when I dug around my purse and found nothing for the third time, I came to the stunning conclusion that I'd left my wallet at Big Wally's. I had no way to identify myself.
"Ma'am. I need to see your license."
"Umm, so here's the thing, I left it at Big Wally's just a few minutes ago, so if we could just swing back over there, I can show you."
"Ma'am, I'm going to need you to come with me."
* * *
I'd never been to our city's police station. It was a little underwhelming to be honest. The place was just gray and brown and dreary. No one looked happy to be there.
They did allow me to call my husband, Will, to come help clear up this mess. We had the title to the car and my passport in a lockbox at the house. He just needed to get them and bring them to the station. Everything would be fine. I'd be back to my mediocre day in no time.
On the upside, I'm pretty sure they were starting to believe I was innocent, and something fishy was going on. Officer Holland, the one that pulled me over, was trying to confirm that my identity had been stolen. Between the car alert and the credit card problems, it was looking more and more like I was the victim of identity theft.
Having nothing else to do while I waited (I was still being officially detained), I tried speaking to the desk clerk. Her name tag read Officer Trudy.
"So, do you see a lot of identity theft cases that involve framing someone for carjacking? I thought these creeps only went after credit cards and passwords to accounts and stuff." Wow, I sounded like an idiot.
"No, we don't."
Officer Trudy looked me over, sniffed, and returned to her computer. Okay then. I guess she wasn't my new jail BFF.
"Beatrice Turner?" Officer Holland called out. I was the only one sitting here, so I'm not sure why he was making it like a question. I nodded a quick yes.
"The picture that shows up with your license number looks nothing like you. Can you please come take a look?"
Ok, this thief was getting really invasive. They somehow changed my license picture in the system? Not gonna lie. I was starting to freak out a little.
Sure enough, it was not me on the screen but some other woman. One I didn't recognize. I hung on my chair for support, looking at the clock for the hundredth time, silently begging my husband to get here faster. This was not looking good for me now.
I could tell the identity theft case was losing steam when they had me fingerprinted. I'd never even had a speeding ticket, so this should work in my favor.
Apparently I had a rap sheet of petty crimes that spanned a few years. I now had a holding cell to wait in. Where was my husband?
Sitting in jail for a few hours gave me plenty of time to think. How was I just complaining that my life was dull and predictable? Now, it seemed as though someone was successfully stealing it, and I realized I didn't want to let it go!
It had been a long time since I saw my world as anything but monotonous and plain. And I had to admit that I was blessed. It was as simple as that. I knew I'd stopped feeling grateful for my life, for each small part of it. Swept up in other people's lives, seeing videos of amazing vacations, parties, successes. It was hard not to compare.
But my life was a success. I had a loving husband, a beautiful home, money to pay the bills (and splurge a little from time to time), and a best friend that got me. I realized stability didn't have to mean monotony. Just because I counted the steps in my day didn't mean I couldn't appreciate the joy in each one, or at least try to.
And now, someone was trying to steal everything from me. No! This was not gonna happen. Will would get here, prove my identity and then we'd find the bastard responsible.
Another half hour passed before Officer Holland came back to get me.
"Your person has arrived. Come with me."
I thought that was an odd way to say my husband was here, but whatever. I wanted out.
Distracted by my racing thoughts, I didn't notice Officer Holland had stopped walking and ran right into his back. Ouch. Rubbing my nose, I peered around his shoulder and saw my best friend waiting for me.
"Kit, what are you doing here? Where's Will? Did something happen?" I think I started to hyperventilate.
"Calm down, drama queen," Kit laughed. "I'm here to bust you out."
"What? How? I don't—"
"We've cleared everything up," she giggled, sharing a look with Officer Holland at my stunned expression.
What was I missing? Was I having an aneurysm right now or deep in a coma?
"I set this all up, Bea," Kit explained. "Officer Holland is a close friend of my husband's. You know, Dean? He agreed to help play this little trick on you. You've been really down about your life lately, and I thought you needed a firm wake-up call. Help you appreciate what you have and embrace living again."
I stared at her. Stunned.
"Well damn. It worked."
I guess the secret is learning to add flavor. Finding passion and joy in everyday things. Making your world become a rich, decadent slice of to-die-for chocolate cake, no matter the circumstance.
I know things won't be perfect and memories of today will fade, but I hope I can hold onto one truth - no one chose how I lived my life but me. I wasn't a victim. I had a choice. Plain or chocolate.
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