O Frabjous Day

Pick up hefty carry-on bag. Grab suitcase handle and align wheels for forward motion. Shuffle two steps. Realign suitcase wheels for no forward motion. Set hefty carry-on bag down to relieve shoulder. Watch gap open up ahead of me in check-in line. Sigh. And repeat.

With my brain in neutral, it’s just a routine check-in experience. Until it isn’t.

Flipping through my stack of cards for a photo ID, I pass my bank cards and come to my healthcare card. That’s odd. Where’s my driver’s license?

Flipping more slowly through the stack, I pass bank cards, healthcare card, and frequent-flier cards — Air Canada, Eddie Bauer, Shoppers Drug Mart — in increasing agitation. There is no driver’s license.

Flipping through my cards a little faster produces the same result. Flipping through my cards back to front? The same.

Now at the front of the line, I’m breathing fast and shallow. I try to get a grip. This is ridiculous. My license must be loose in my purse somewhere. But as I wait for the next agent, a shaky-hands check of my purse pockets turns up . . . nothing. Yikes: This isn’t good.

My ears aren’t working quite right: Everything is echoey, and when I get up to the counter I have to ask the airline checker-inner to repeat things. Clutching my boarding pass so I don’t lose that, too, I move to a blue vinyl armchair where a complete emptying of my purse turns up . . . nothing. Dagnab it.

A frantic examination of my entire carry-on bag turns up . . . nothing. Shit.

A call to the Big Guy and his roadside search of our rental car in Calgary turns up . . . nothing. Oh. My. God.

My head is buzzing. This can’t be happening.

But it is. I’m en route from Calgary to Vancouver, and I have no driver’s license. With my healthcare card I can board the plane, all right, but I can’t pick up my rental at the far end. Without wheels, how will I manage the logistics of my visit to my mother, or my subsequent stopover in Edmonton?

“Don’t it always seem to go,
that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?”
Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi

The next few hours are surreal. My eyes join my ears on strike: Everything is a little out of focus.

Unable to let it go (“Maybe if I look just one more time . . .”), I undertake several more searches of my belongings and pockets, turning up . . . nothing.

The last time I remember having my driver’s license in my hand, the Big Guy was handing it back to me when we picked up the rental car in Calgary, all of four days previously.

I put it away in its accustomed spot, right? I check that stack of cards again.


Finally landing in Vancouver, I check my phone for messages. Nothing. I call the Big Guy anyway.

“O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
Lewis Carroll, Jabberwocky

Against any reasonable expectation, I had put my license in the glove compartment along with the rental agreement, where said license then hid at the bottom, yielding only to a meticulous search. A day later, I have it in my hands again and breathe easy. After all, we’re done, right?


Over the next few weeks I find myself giving my driver’s license unaccustomed love, checking for it in its accustomed spot every few days, just because.

Because I no longer take its presence for granted.

Because I no longer take my habits for granted.

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?”


This entry was posted in Day-to-Day Encounters, Feeling Clearly and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to O Frabjous Day

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    “Taking it for granted…” Alas, alack, so many of our troubles derive from that simple phrase. We take for granted many of our attitudes. We take for granted the privileges of living in a safe country, in a democratic world. We take for granted our children, our partners, our friends. I’ve been reading recently about the virtues of “mindfulness” — which seems to mean, basically, paying attention to the moment. In other words, NOT taking things for granted.
    Jim T

  2. Isabel Gibson says:

    Jim – Yes, and a little more of me being in the moment might have seen my driver’s license being in my stack of cards. To your larger point, also yes.

  3. To be mindful is a constant effort — at first; but it gets easier and priorities change. If something is annoying you at a particular moment, you are aware you can change your attitude to it. Deep breath. The next moment will be different, if not better. Better, worse, it’s all being alive. And…you got a story out of it and whoever reads your post will be more mindful, and grateful, too.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – I guess slowing down and doing one thing at a time is a good way to start. Excuse me while I dust my living room and assemble a salad . . .

  4. Colleen says:

    This is hilarious! I had a few chuckles! Still laughing!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Colleen – Glad you liked it. Anais Nin, an arty writer, once said, “We write to taste life twice.” Sometimes, I write to get a different taste in my mouth. There sure wasn’t anything funny about it in the living it!

      • “They” say the faster you can make a “bad” thing into a story, the happier you will be. It’s why I have kept a journal for 35 years. For that reason you mention, to taste life twice (or even many times, as I read through them 20, 30 years later), but to keep my brain from going tharn. Right side/left side balance. It also makes me more attentive.

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          Barbara – Yes. Getting another “war story” is what the Big Guy calls it. And definitely worth the effort, when at all possible.

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