Recently, I have been thinking more and more about my wallet.
It’s a relatively new one, but apart from that, no particular reason exists as to why I’d be pondering my wallet. I haven’t been reaching for it often; I assure you, there’s not much money in there. But at the end of the night, when I undress and settle in, I have only four items I set by the bed: a notebook, a pen, my mobile and my wallet. These are the four objects I have with me at all times. I am a human being, somewhat complicated, definitely cluttered; when you boil down my life to its most basic objects, the stuff I really couldn’t live without, you get those four objects. Notebooks, pens and phones aren’t really all that interesting, and they’re certainly self-explanatory, so we’re going to just focus on the wallet.
My wallet, right now, before my trip to the pawn shop this Thursday, has 20 pounds in it. The holding of money is certainly the least noteworthy function of a wallet, so let’s just take that at face value and move on.
For a while, I saved all the ticket stubs from movies I saw and placed them in that little pouch they put on the inside of your wallet. I’m not really certain why I did this; maybe I feared I would be falsely accused of a crime and might need an immediate alibi. Well, officer, I was in fact nowhere near the conservatory with the lead pipe at 8:15 p.m. I was watching Hangover II again. (Perhaps in that case, it would do my reputation well just to plead guilty regardless.)
But I see too many movies, and eventually the stubs became too obtrusive, even though their inevitable fattening of the wallet did provide delusions of successes I have not attained. After holding onto all those tickets for so long, I couldn’t just throw them away, so they’re saved in a box somewhere while I start a new collection.
I had a similar habit with business cards, but in my field of work you quickly learn that this is a most impractical practice. People in business are obsessed with business cards, and on a weekly basis, I’m usually handed five or six. In the film American Psycho, the murderous lead character is vexed not by chainsaws through flesh, but by his feelings of inadequacy after it’s revealed a work colleague has a more impressive engraving on his cards. I thought this was overwrought satire until I caught two friends of mine stealthily comparing their cards at a party last week. One told the other her cards were “impressive” while failing miserably at hiding his disgust and envy. I just kept quiet — mine are rubbish. Amidst this culture, it is simply unreasonable to attempt to store all the business cards one receives in a wallet. Most now sit on my desk at work; some reside in the same box as the tickets.
So what’s in the wallet then? Well, obvious identification materials. Driver’s license, bank cards, store cards, a Tesco clubcard, an old NYIP press ID that still occasionally works wonders at certain events. And my Oyster card is in there, along with an old bank card from Scotiabank in the Caribbean I never got around to throwing away.
Oooh, musn’t forget my NHS prescription and EHIC cards. Never hurts to have one of those cards lying around if you’re getting regular drugs or travelling a bit.
But where did the rest of this crap come from? Why, I ask with a poorly concealed whiff of alarm, do I still have a hotel key from the Radisson Lexington in New York? Does it still work? Do I even dare to try next time I’m out there? I have a lifetime preferred card from Filter 14, a bar in Manhattan. I have no intention of ever returning to Filter 14, not only because it’s kind of a dumpy bar and the manager was a bit of a prat, but also because it’s several thousand miles out of the way. I don’t visit New York as much as I did some years back so why have I been keeping this card around? It’s oversized, barely fits in the wallet, and its colour is a nasty shade of puke yellow. In the bin it goes.
I have a Blockbuster video card I haven’t used since I lived in NW9, eight years ago. The last time I used that card, they didn’t even have much of a DVD section.
There was a time I would carry a condom in my wallet, but not only did it produce an embarrassing “ring-around-the-condom” effect in the leather, but it was also depressing to realise how long it would sit in there, unused.
Thanks for being a blood donor proclaims yet another card. Did you know that you can give blood every 56 days? I haven’t given for quite a while, mainly because I hate needles. But you should do that. It’s a nice little charitable thing. When a close friend was studying to be a nurse about 10 years ago, I occasionally let her practice new techniques on me. Ah, the things you do for love! She would rehearse finding veins for IVs and blood drives on my wrists and arms. It hurt, and I hated it — and a few people must have starting wondering if I was a heroin addict — and it’s partly why I don’t like needles.
I’ve also got Starbucks and Costa cards. Of the large, corporate chains, Starbucks is my favourite (don’t judge me!) but there isn’t one near where I work or live so the Costa card gets used more now.
And I realise, with a sigh, that the only things in my wallet I’ve acquired in the last couple years is the Costa card and the one for that stupid bar that’s too far away.
What’s in your wallet? The extraneous things we obsessively gather and collect for no apparent reason say more about us than we might like to admit, I suspect. But I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me.