I took my daughter and her fiance’ to lunch the other day – nothing fancy, just sandwiches at the Boudin Bakery in Walnut Creek.

I love that place. Their bread is ridiculous … before you know it, you’ve eaten an entire loaf of the toasty, chewy, delightful stuff, but back to the story.

The cashier took my debit card and quietly whispered, “Your card was declined”.

“Oh, that can’t be right,” I responded. “Today’s payday!”

I usually don’t burn through our paycheck in one day, although Maury would disagree. I told the cashier to try it again. No go. My daughter offered to pay, but I wouldn’t hear of it. I was able to scrape up enough cash to cover our lunch.

Once seated at our table, I called my bank. The wait time was 18 minutes. I decided to deal with it later and not spoil our lunch, but I was worried. Thankfully, my sandwich arrived, and I was transported to sourdough heaven.

We had a nice visit, and I headed back to my car, where I proceeded to call the bank. This time, I chose the fraud department and got through right away. The Bank of America woman told me that my card was blocked due to suspicious activity. She wanted to confirm some recent transactions.

The list began with a few 99 cent purchases for some apps from Google. Not mine. Then, a purchase at Domino’s Pizza for $68. Nope, not me either. How about an emergency room visit in Atlanta, Georgia for $5? What? The list got more preposterous. My card was being used in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Germany, Paris and, finally, a Sea World ticket in San Diego. I was on fire. 

“No! None of those are mine!”

I was hyperventilating now. I’ve been hacked before, but not like this. The woman at the other end of the phone had obviously been trained in how to talk people off the ledge of hysteria.

“Don’t worry Mrs. McKenna,” she said. “We have been able to reverse most of these charges. You are not responsible for any of these fraudulent transactions. The Sea World ticket for $79 may take a few days, however. A new card is being issued. You should receive it in a few days. Please destroy your old card. Sorry you had to go through this.”

I sat there in my car imagining some greasy-haired slob stuffing Domino’s pizza in his mouth in his mother’s basement, on my dime, while I feverishly searched my purse for enough cash to buy my daughter a sandwich. Over the next few days, I had to monitor my bank account for more fraud, and there was more.

My card number had been sold to many greaseballs all over the planet, who were now purchasing Spotify and Netflix subscriptions. More time spent on the phone with the bank, more aggravation, no debit card for a week and that Sea World ticket was still processing.

I believe in karma. I have lived my life according to the belief that what goes around, comes around. It’s called having a conscience. We all know what is right and what is wrong, and you don’t need Jiminy Cricket sitting on your shoulder to know which is which, although that would be kind of cool.

When I get to my car and notice that I forgot to tell the cashier I have a case of water on the bottom of my cart, I go back and pay for it. I recently wrenched my back loading a huge box of firewood into my trunk and for some reason I looked at my receipt. Nope, they didn’t charge me for it. Blast! There was no way I could have struggled with that box of wood again, so I took a picture of the barcode, went back to the store and paid for it.

When Haley was a toddler, I was loading her and my groceries into the car when I noticed she was holding a can of pricey cashews. She must have swiped them off a shelf when I wasn’t looking. Sure, I could have popped them open and driven away, but instead, I unstrapped Haley from her car seat and walked back to the store to return them. Hey, I love cashews but they were $11 for Pete’s sake. Anyway, you get the point.

My conscience will not allow me to take what isn’t mine. How do thieves and hackers not spend their lives looking over their shoulder for that out-of-control speeding bus or that bolt of lightning?

Well, the Sea World ticket finally dropped off and my money reappeared. My new card came in the mail, and for now, all is calm in our bank account. I am still hopeful, however, that the greasy hackers will wake up one morning with the worst case of hemorrhoids ever recorded.

I saw a great bumper sticker yesterday that made me feel a little better. It said, “I saw that.” – Karma.

I believe it.

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