Insane in Texas

Let me tell you a little story. This past weekend I was in Texas. I love Texas. I’ve never had a bad time there, in any city, and I admit a particular fondness for the DFW Knitters Guild, and the annual Fiber Fest they put on. Even though they’re all volunteers, they conduct themselves like the best sort of professionals, and they’re sweeter than pie to boot. The thing is organized up one side and down the other, and everything was perfect. (The talk went off pretty well too, I think.) I hope they have me back forever.

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It wasn’t without challenges – but those were deeply personal.  Exhibit A: My brand new iphone got smashed – because I wasn’t careful enough with it. Exhibit B: I was repeatedly locked out of my hotel room when my keys only worked intermittently, thus making it look to the staff like I was a moron who couldn’t open a door. It turned out the battery in the card reader in the door was failing, not my ability to SWIPE THE CARD, but I still have to live with the experience of a 22 year old desk clerk trying to teach me how to open a door.  Exhibit C: The zipper on a pair of my pants broke and I had to wear the other pair every day, making me look like a woman of little style and shoddy laundry standards. (Which could be said to be true, but let’s gloss over it, I was trying to do better.) Exhibit D: Although Dallas is only a 3.5 hour flight from Toronto, on Monday it took me almost 18 hours to get home, and I’m still looking for most of my luggage. One bag showed up today. The other – and the stuff in it (see rest of post for a hint of what’s in it) is still “in the wind.”

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All of that said, what I want to tell you about is what happened on Saturday morning. The marketplace at the DFW Fiber Fest is awesome. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s a carefully curated collection of mostly Texas stuff, and there were so many fabulous vendors that I was at serious risk of an episode of some type or another. Mostly, I was saved by the fact that I was teaching. The Marketplace opened at 9:00, but classes started at 9:30 – so I was largely safe on that end – and I’m not even sure I made it out of my classroom every day at lunch, visiting with students, answering questions and switching over from one class to another. Classes ended at 5 – but after hanging with students, cleaning up, and organizing myself to go back to the hotel, I wasn’t finishing before 5:30 or 5:45, and the Market closed at 6.  This was all, I thought, very lucky. Exposure is risk, and I was fine with that risk being minimized.

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Eventually though, the Guild executive (being thoughtful, amazing and thinking of all possible problems) realized that the teachers didn’t really have time to shop, and arranged for the market to open early for us one day – just so we would have time. I know. Their hearts are in the right places.

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So the night before, I made a plan. Instead of just going in there and experimenting with my historically poor impulse control around that sort of thing, I looked over the list, mapped my route, decided what I would buy, asked a few vendors to set a few things aside. I got ready, and on Saturday morning I blew into the Marketplace, and executed the mission in a way that would make Navy Seals look lazy and disorganized. On the sixth transaction, my credit card was declined. I asked them to run it again, because there’s no reason for that (they know I travel – being in Texas alone shouldn’t be enough to trigger a problem) it failed again, I whipped out another card, used that, and cancelled the rest of the expedition.

I didn’t have time to figure out what could have gone wrong until lunch, when I called home to Canada and got the bank on the line. I gave my name and card number, and there was a pause, and then the agent said this:  Ms Pearl-McPhee, we’re glad you called. We just left a message on your home phone. We regret this deeply, and we’re working to ensure all the changes are reversed, but it would appear that your card was stolen this morning.” 

I took a deep breath, which I think the clerk interpreted as shock, which I guess it was, in a way, and he said “No really.  You wouldn’t believe it. Someone  with your card WENT INSANE IN TEXAS.”

I felt it immediately, I knew what I was going to have to say. I knew it. As he detailed the transactions, I mumbled something like “It was me” but he wouldn’t listen. “You don’t understand madame. It was five transactions at five different locations in just under 8 minutes. That’s not possible. That’s insane.”

I knew what I had to say then, and I did.

“Sir, with all due respect, it is possible, and it was me.  The card is not stolen. Those transactions are mine. It’s me. I’m insane in Texas.”

The silence was deafening, and when he asked what I was buying and how I was doing it it didn’t get much better, and then I mumbled something about a fiber fest and booths close to each other, and a map, and knitting and self-striping yarn, and he said “What?” in a really disturbed way, and I got a grip again.  “I’m not crazy.” I told him, and I tried to sound confident.  “I’m just verry efficient. Now please unlock my card.  I’m not done.”

“Yes madame…” he said, rather haltingly.  “Enjoy your…. wool stuff.”

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