I’ve never thought I would be in a position to ask a total stranger for money. The other week, I put myself smack dab in the middle of that prospect.

A series of careless actions found me 200 miles from home with $3, some odd change, and a handful of useless plastic. Smart, huh? My credit issues revealed over time, the whole scenario came together like the proverbial perfect storm.

To start, the travel didn’t come as a surprise, but a new edict by my credit union did. Apparently, members are now required to plan ahead for travel as funds may we be cut off from out-of-area usage. While I appreciate the new security precaution, personal notification of such an important change would have been nice.

The same could be said about a very different surprise. For the first time in my life, I accidentally skipped a credit card payment. The night a dinner bill was declined didn’t alarm me, for I ironically assumed that to be a glitch because I roamed from my usual haunts. So what did I do? Nothing! Rather than call, I forgot about the incident until a repeat performance occurred at a gas station. It was my wise partner that suggested trying the card again on the day of the trip, and this finally got me motivated to contact customer service.

Imagine my embarrassment when the kindly representative had to move up the payment thoughtlessly scheduled for the upcoming due date. You’d think I would have noticed my error in the process of scheduling May’s payment, or, better yet, in the process of verifying that charges were legitimate. And how did I not question the larger balance? While I’m puzzled as to why I received no warning, the fault is ultimately all my own.

At any rate, the Visa rep explained to me that the card would remain on hold while payment could be verified, but waiting twenty-four hours for reactivation seemed a small inconvenience. After all, I carry a second credit line for just such emergencies. Everything was peachy, or so I thought.

Unfortunately, there happened to be a very different issue with my Mastercard account. Some time back I was issued a new card and, out of sheer laziness, failed to activate the thing. Now that I needed to do so, I learned of a stipulation. Yet another security precaution requires the cardholder to call the company from a home phone! Trying to call from my cell phone accomplished nothing.

Effectively broke, I would have ended up washing dishes somewhere to pay for a way home if I’d been alone. Fortunately, my wiser travel companion had called the credit union and also carried viable credit cards. And bright side was the calm patience my concerned mate displayed in the face of such utter irresponsibility. I suppose I kicked myself hard enough for both of us, but this calm reaction was greatly appreciated.

So to the identity thieves responsible for all these new security procedures, I’d like to kick you in the behind. Actually, that’s putting it very mildly, and this suffering was undeniably self-induced. I can’t imagine having my financial identity hijacked. I’m also grateful for the insurance we have in place for such an emergency. Let’s hope we never need it.

How about you? Ever paint yourself into a corner like this? Or maybe you can share an experience with identity theft. I’d like to hear your story…

4 thoughts on “Buddy, can you spare a dollar?

  1. OMG! I'm so glad you got home safe!

    I got stranded in Minnesota when I blew a head gasket, so I can relate to the whole stranded no way to get home feeling. Scary!

  2. Thank you! I can say the same, though your misadventure was at least not self induced. Thanks for sharing your scare.

  3. Nikki M says:

    I haven't had any experience with identity theft (knock on wood). My worst travel story is taking the train from South Bend, IN to Chicago to meet a friend for Thanksgiving. I was reading on the train and completely lost track of the stops. Although I knew I was supposed to get off at the end of the line, I got off at Roosevelt Road instead (I knew the station started with an R). There was no breathing body at the station, just pay phones on the street and ticket machines. Eventually the person I was meeting managed to convince the train employees that I really was idiot enough to get off at that station and they intercommed me through the ticket machines and I was able to meet him on the road out front. Leave it to me, I swear!

    I'm glad you made it home safe, Darla! That must have been so stressful for you!

  4. Nikki, that sounds like something I would easily do, too. How scary! It almost sounds like a twilight zone opening…

    As for me, I was more stressed about what my partner would think. Some people would never let their other half live it down. I'm very fortunate!

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