Being a creature of habit, when I come in, I empty my pockets before sitting down at my desk. I have a ceramic dish that holds everything.

A few days ago something didn’t seem right about the contents of the dish. Examining them, I found my watch, camera, cellphone, tissues, keys, bracelet, wallet. No wait. There was no wallet.

I carry my wallet in my front pocket, so I double and triple checked my pants. No, I had not failed to remove it. It was gone.

Thinking back, I had made three small purchases that day. The first were my daily newspapers, then a beer in a café where I read them, and finally two lime fizzes at an outdoor drink stand to take home.

I rushed out and retraced my steps, but not surprisingly, no one had seen the wallet.

I don’t carry much in my wallet, just a credit card, a debit card, a bus card, and my North Carolina drivers license.  I had gotten 1000 RMB out of the ATM a few days before, so I probably had 7-800 RMB in cash left.

I keep backup copies of my credit and debit cards at home, so losing them isn’t a problem. Since I don’t drive, I don’t really need my drivers license, and my bus card only had about 50 RMB on it. While not welcome, the lost cash wasn’t a great tragedy.

But what to do next has been vexing. Should I report and cancel the credit and debit cards? I keep a bank account here in China. There is more than enough money in it to get me through until replacements arrive.

I keep a low credit limit on my credit card, and could contest any bogus charges made on it. The debit card has a $500./day limit on withdrawals.

So far as I know all ATMs have a camera, so if someone tried to use my debit card, they’d be photographed. I figured the most I could lose is a single $500. withdrawal and I’d have a picture of the thief for the police.

As soon as I returned home, I checked my accounts online. No activity was recorded. I checked again a few hours later. Same result. I have been checking my accounts several times each day for more than a week now. There has been no activity.

The fact there has been no illicit activity on the cards makes me think I might have done something stupid with my wallet, like letting it fall between the cushions of a chair, or leaving it in my pants pocket and washing it. While I checked these two possibilities, there might be something equally obvious that I have overlooked.

Strangely, I know a Chinese man and woman who both lost wallets the same day as I lost mine, and a third Chinese man who lost his cellphone then. Coincidence, or some sort of divine intervention into human affairs?

So now I wonder what to do. I think I’ll just keep checking my accounts a few times a day, and hope that the wallet will unexpectedly turn up. Life is difficult.

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