The Mystery Of The Lost ATM Card

I have not been so outdone since I can’t remember when. The magic trick was I outdid myself on the day I was driving down to Long Beach for some family and friend connection. For those that don’t know I drive for Grub Hub and Dash to support myself as a writer. That’s a blog post (book) for anther day.

On this particular day I was Dashing before dropping my daughter off for class. She told me she forgot to eat that morning (excited about seeing her Cali friends). I had fifteen minutes to feed her, get her to school and drop off a customer order. The closest and fastest thing around was Human Bean. I order her a cinnamon muffin and pay with my card.

My daughter is homeschooled and this is the first year in a while where she has had a campus class. I made her come back to the car three times to tweak her wardrobe choice 😜. She’s out, the customer has food, and I need gas. My gas light dings to let me know I’m 50 miles to E.

First, I decide to grab a Subway wrap. I go to pay when I realize I don’t have my card. I run to the car thinking I must not have put it on the seat instead of back in my wallet after paying for my daughters muffin. Nope, no card! I search some more then realize I can use Apple Pay. YAAA, I can eat. DAMMIT, where is my card?

I call the Human Bean and someone picks up the phone and lays it down without a word. WTH! I listen to their inane chit chat before a few minutes then hang up. I call back only this time I get a busy signal. I continue calling As I make my way back over there.

“Hi, how can I help you.”

“Don’t be nice, I’m pissed at you guys. The phone is off the hook and I’ve been calling for at least 10 minutes. You guys are holding my card hostage.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Let me check.”

Male cashiers chimes in. “Usually when you try to call this location you get the corporate office.”

“I didn’t get corporate I got you guys.” I know I’m being salty, but I’m pissed about my card. I see inside and can tell no one wants to admit to picking up the phone as they search for my card.

“I’m so sorry but we don’t have your card here.”

I want to call her a bald face liar but I don’t. I pull off to the side and begin a thorough search of my car. I go through some of my packed bags. I move the seats back and forth. I recline and incline. I toss trash and get angrier because I know someone in that Human Bean has plans for using my card. 39 miles to E.

2:17 I texted my daughter

“Do you have my ATM card?”

“What? NO!”

Damn, damn, damn. My daughter is spacey some days so I call. No answer. I call again. No answer. Heffa I know you feel your phone vibrating. ANSWER THE DAMN PHONE! I will have it disconnected by lunch time.

She finally answers. “Morgan, are you sure I didn’t accidentally give you my card when I passed you your muffin?”

“No, mother.”

I ignore her you’re bothering me while I’m with my friends voice. “Check your bag please.” I hear cursory rustling and my frustration rises.

“No, mother.”

“Thank you. Bye.”

Now I’m upset with her and the possible thieving HB GenZ’s. I just KNOW one of them has my card and they’re just to lazy to look for it. I drive back to my daughter's school, which is nearby, to check the place where I adjusted her clothes. Maybe it dropped out on the ground when I kept getting in and out.

I don’t want to cancel my card yet because I know if neither of them have it, I will find it somewhere. I could easily meet up with my husband and get some money but I am now on a mission. I don’t just want my debit card, I need my debit card. I’m not the type to carry cash because, DUH, I’ll spend it and not remember what I spent it on. Suddenly I have the bright idea to transfer money to my PayPal account and use my PayPal debit card. Hazzah!

I hate doing certain things on my phone and something like this tops the list. I know from experience that how something operates on my computer does not translate the same with the app, This was one of the apps I had downloaded just because. I never thought I would ever use it for anything significant. Today I have no choice. Well, yes I do but I don’t want any of those. As I said, I’m on a mission.

I tap around the app trying to figure out how the hell to get money to my card. I use PayPal to reload my Starbucks apps with no money in the account so maybe I didn’t need to transfer money. Maybe I can just swipe and it will magically transfer money straight from the bank account. Finally I google “how to use your PayPal debit card.” Sure enough I need to transfer money. I tapped “Transfer Money,” no that’s not it. I tapped “Get Cash,” no that’s not it either. I tap “Add Cash,” still not it. I went through this cycle three or four times getting angrier every time. In my frustrated state I failed to see at the very bottom “Add From Your Bank.” Motha fuc…

I tap and get to the next screen. I tap $100 as a test amount. If it works I’ll add more. Next screen says, “Add To Your Balance.” “Your funds will be available September 10.” FUUUU…

Now I’m good and mad. I call my husband and update him on my situation. I ask him to call the bank to see how long it will take to get a new card. He calls me back and complains they were going to leave him on hold for ten minutes. “Dude, really! You’re at home.” He agrees to call them back and let me know.

I get another order and I take it. Now I’m 34 miles to E when my husband calls me back. He tells me he’s going to transfer money from his PayPal to my PayPal I warn him against tying up more money. He only half listens thankfully because his idea works. WOO HOO! I now have $193. They charged me $7 for the transfer but I didn’t care. I told him I still needed to go to the bank because I needed cash for something else.

In my head I’m still blaming and cursing about the GenZ’s holding my card hostage and it’s the story I relay to the bank teller. She ask if I’m sure I didn’t lose it at home and I assure her I did not. She then makes my day better by letting me know I can get a temporary card. I shout “yes please” as I jump up and down on my toes like a kid. Heads in the bank popped up like antelope in the wild. I don’t care. I have a new card coming. She gets me the card and we go outside in the muggy weather to set my pen and I’m off. I thank her profusely and peel out.

I now have twenty-five minutes to pay my bill and get gas before picking up my daughter. My gauge reads 29 to E when I pull into the gas station. Since I was hitting the road after picking up Morgan I had to fill up now. I usually love that it’s illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon, not today though. It was like waiting for molasses to pour. My next stop is less than 2 miles away and my lead foot is up for the challenge.

I pull up in front of the store at 4:18. One of the girls who works in the store is standing outside enjoying her cigarette and ignores me for her phone. I walk inside and thankfully the store is empty of customers. The guy at the counter barely looks up when I walk in. I head in his direction and hand him my paperwork so he can pull up my account. It’s 4:19 and he’s griping because his co-worker didn’t follow me in from her cigarette break to help me. He explained that he was busy trying snipe a watch on eBay. Afraid to look away from his screen, he shoots glances at the door with hope in his eyes that his co-worker will walk-in.

He continues to yammer about snipping in order to stall until his co-worker enters. In my head I’m thinking, dude just take my money and shut the hell up. 4:21 the co-worker comes in. I don’t know who is more relieved by her appearance me or him. I wanted to throw the money on the counter and say keep the change so I wouldn’t be late picking up Morgan. Instead I patiently finish my transaction and sprint for the door.

4:24 text from daughter.

“Where are you”

“On my way!”


“GPS say’s be there in 13 minutes” It’s 4:26


“You can follow me on find my friends”

“kk” “i don’t have it”

“What about find my iPhone?”

“forgot my password”

All this frantic texting while driving (don’t tell the po po) was to much so I text how many minutes away I was based on GPS — 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 3, I’m here.

As soon as she gets in the car I start grilling her about my card. She searched her bag while I watched via the rearview mirror. I didn’t pull over and make her dump everything out of her backpack because I wanted to stay on the road to Cali. As it was we wouldn’t get there until maybe four in the morning.

“Mom, I’m hungry.”

Thankfully my lips didn’t betray me when my quick mind said so what butter cup suck it up. I hadn’t eaten all day and I’m not complaining. At least you had a muffin this morning before my card went missing. Instead I replied, “Okay baby, you want to stop and get something?” The bad mother in me hoped she would say no but I knew better.

“Yes, please.”

I had an internal parental tantrum as I got off the freeway to feed my child. We weren’t even on the freeway five minutes and I have to get off to feed her. I have this thing where I race against time when I’m driving. If apple map says I’ll be there by 3:21, then dammit I want to be there by 3:15 just to prove them wrong. My hungry daughter was messing it all up by wanting to be fed. Thankfully I had a choice of payment with my trusty temporary bank card and my PayPal debit card.

We order bowls from Panda Express, get our food and get back on the freeway. She now complains that she didn’t get chopsticks. I on the other hand am trying to figure out how to eat my teriyaki chicken bowl with this baby fork they gave me while hitting curves through the Ashland Mountains doing 80. Somehow I manage to get most of the food in my mouth and leave a lot of miles behind us.

My husband called close to 9pm for his usual check in when he thinks we’re passed the cellular dead zone through the mountains. I complain some more about my lost card. He gives me his go to advice of “baby, let it go” and eventually I do. I reach my fill of marital small talk and we hang up.

With the dark road ahead and my quiet daughter in the back seat I settle into cruise mode until our next pit stop. I kick off my shoes and adjust myself in my seat. When I moved I felt something poke me in my left breast. As I reach in to adjust my bra and scratch I start shaking my head. My finger runs across the top of something inside my bra stuck to my breast. OMG! When the hell did I put that in there? I pull out my seemingly lost ATM card and stare at it as if betrayed.

“Morgan, guess what I just found?” I really don’t want to tell her but I can’t help myself.


“My ATM card.”

“Really! Where?"

“In my bra!”

The laughter coming from the backseat was long and loud. She fell over across the seat and I could see the tears on her face when we passed under a highway light. I lovingly had a twinge of hate for her for getting such a kick out of my forgetfulness.

“You know I have to tell your dad.”

“Yeah,” she said between subdued giggles.

“Shut up,” I say smiling.

“Okay,” she says as she breaks out into another loud laughing fit.

As I dial my husbands number I tell myself I hate all of them, my husband, my daughter, the GenZ’s at Human Bean. It was a conspiracy to make me look bad.

“Hey baby, guess what?”


“I found my card.”

“Really, where?”

“In my bra, it was there the whole time.”

His booming laugh came through my car speakers like thunder. I’m sure he was still laughing when the disconnect registered in his ear.

Phyllis Williams-Strawder is the author of That Damn Girl Stuff: A Mother's Truth and Far From the Tree.

Phyllis is the publisher of SPICE: The Variety of Life written by her husband Neil and Morgan Mischief written by her daughter Morgan.

Phyllis has been writing since she was a teen. Her favorite thing to write back then was poetry. A family friend who was in the music industry wanted to turn one of her poems into a song but she never pursued it. Her debut book, Morgan Mischief, was written with her daughter who was nine years old at the time.

Phyllis is a successful entrepreneur who owned a financial advisory business. She later owned two popular restaurants with her husband. She is an alum of Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business Executive Program. She is an alum of Leadership Long Beach Institute. She is a former member of the Long Beach City College Culinary Advisory Board.

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