09:50:01 am on
Tuesday 01 Dec 2020

Net Negative
David Simmonds

I lost my wallet the other day. I just about lost my mind, as well as the goodwill of my family. A trifecta was in order, I thought.

My wallet went hiding last Thursday.

I noticed my wallet was missing last Thursday morning, just as my wife and I were going out to run errands. It wasn’t in its usual place in the outside pocket of my shoulder bag. I didn’t panic because I remembered having used it the previous day at my desk, in the bedroom, to make a credit card purchase.

I called out to my wife. Would she bring me my wallet? I had obviously left it on the desk.

She couldn’t find it on the desk. I came looking, but I couldn’t find it either. Under a veneer of rationality, the search began.

Where was I when I last used it? Where precisely had I seen it last? I scoured the bedroom and then fanned outwards, even checking the pockets of coats I hadn’t worn in months and cupboards I hadn’t opened for weeks. Nada.

I began searching for alternative explanations. Maybe I had ventured out of doors and someone had somehow stolen it. I asked me wife about five times whether she was sure I had been in the house the whole time since Wednesday afternoon.

I don’t think she was too pleased the second time I asked. By the fifth time I could sense that my repeated asking was somewhat counterproductive. At least I wasn’t going to get a call from Visa HQ asking me whether I had just rented a luxury villa in Tijuana Mexico.

We developed a working hypothesis. There was a small garbage pail next to my desk. I must have inadvertently knocked the wallet into the pail and then failed to notice it when I emptied the pail into our duly tagged big garbage bag, which as bad luck would have it had already been picked up by eager garbage contractors that very morning.

It did nothing to alleviate my frustration at the task that now lay before me. I was going to have to get a new driver’s licence, health card and Visa card, pronto. I was going to have to admit to my actions at evert step on my journey.

"You did what? Knocked it into a garbage pail! That wasn’t very bright."

Moreover, the wallet contained some cash, which was going to be consumed not by me for my pleasure, but by some anonymous machine that was indifferent to the fact that it was consuming something of value. I didn’t need the hassle and begrudged the time. It was all so unfair.

I was emitting subtle signals of anger, frustration and despair for the whole of Thursday. These did not go unnoticed by the other members of our household, that is, my wife and my son. Anyone that dared offer a suggestion as to where the wallet might be found quickly had her or his head snapped off by the wallet owner, sarcastically dismissing the suggestion and stating that of course he had already looked at the suggested location. Did they think he was dumb or something? 

It was late Thursday evening when I found the wallet. It was in the bedroom. wedged in between the bed and a blanket box. I must have had the wallet in my hands, presumably so as to take it back to its regular location in my shoulder bag, but then put the wallet down on top of the blanket box, opened the lid to get something out, causing the wallet to slip out of sight; then forgotten that I had had the wallet in my hands a few moments before.

The wallet was only a couple of steps away from the place I had remembered leaving it. If I had only checked that vicinity a little more thoroughly in the first place. Then I would have found it straight away.

The relief I felt in finding it was abundant. Still, it did not match the intensity of the anxiety I had felt and caused my family in losing it and trying to find it. Overall, it was a net negative experience.

The lesson is sobering.

Don’t try to do two things, even simple things, at once, because in attempting to do the second task you will probably botch the first task and potentially cause yourself and others considerable grief. Accept that you aren’t firing on all cylinders anymore. Remember, they haven’t yet come up with a cure, a treatment or vaccine for stupidity.

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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