An Unforgettable Work Trip: The Day My Purse Disappeared

In my line of work, I can be remote, on-location, or a mix of both options. Traveling for a job is a unique experience altogether and quite distinct from personal vacations. Over time, I’ve encountered various scenarios during my work trips. However, one particular incident remains etched in my memory and taught me valuable lessons.

This event took place during a project in San Francisco – my very first work trip. As a newcomer, I had much to learn. My accommodations were in the financial district, and being unfamiliar with public transportation, I quickly adapted to navigating buses towards the Pacific Heights area. My assignment was providing support at a medical facility that adopted a new electronic medical records system. One fateful day, I accidentally left my purse in the restroom and within minutes, it vanished. Although I travel light, it contained important items like my Amex card, debit card, HSA card, driver’s license, and roughly $20.

In a panic, I called my bank and Amex to cancel the cards. After borrowing $40 from a kind coworker for transport to the nearest Amex office in the city, I managed to secure a replacement card. Next stop: Wells Fargo. Thankfully there were plenty of branches around San Francisco where I received prompt assistance with withdrawing cash and setting up a separate checking account for travel purposes. Despite taking care of urgent situations related to my missing wallet by stopping all cards and withdrawing cash, my HSA provider later informed me that more than $100 had already been spent at CVS.  

I paid a visit to the local police station on foot the next day to report the theft only to learn that such incidents are commonplace and recovering lost items is highly unlikely. Coming from small-town Midwest background made adjusting to this reality challenging, but I reminded myself things could have been worse.

With canceled cards and a plan to replace my driver’s license, what remained for me was shopping for a new purse. Looking back, I realize how much more careful I could have been.  In order for me to get through airport security that week, I used my work ID alongside the police report as identification to return home.   I relied on my passport in the following weeks. When applying for a replacement license, I opted for a new number just to get a fresh start.

In the end, this incident from my travels was a learning experience.   Looking back, I realize I was quite naive and should have been more cautious.