I’ve been very proud of myself for never, ever spending more money on my creative business than it made. I have no debt associated with my little jewelry biz. No credit cards. Just old fashioned budgeting and hard work. I’m frugal and buy quality tools one at a time and take good care of them. I buy raw materials wholesale. I do my work in a sweet, tiny studio. I’m a one woman show, I do it all. I do these things because I don’t want my business to be a drain on my family. We don’t need the added stress of a financial drain on our budget. One of my goals is to grow my little business into a even more profitable one to help give us a bit more breathing room in said family budget. So today when I was checking the balance on one of our personal accounts and noticed red numbers I didn’t recognize in my business account details, and a balance of $0.00...I got a familiar, sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I’ve been here before. Our personal checking account number was used by someone in Texas one day last year. It took us until after business hours to notice, of course. They went shopping at Walmart and a few other places. To me this indicated someone at least in need. Hungry, maybe desperate. Somehow it lessened the blow in my head. Maybe “they” were just trying to feed a family. It wasn’t that much money, really. All we had to do then was go to the bank and get new debit cards for that account. Fortunately, we belong to a credit union that makes the process of fraud claims relatively easy and painless. We went to the credit union office, identified the fraudulent charges, signed some papers and walked out 45 minutes later with shiny new debit cards and our balance restored to what it was supposed to be. It was a nuisance, but it didn’t feel like such a blatant violation.
The discovery of this theft tonight feels more like a punch to the gut. Those red numbers? Someone got hold of my business account debit card number and totally wiped my checking account clean of all my holiday sales income. I had made plenty. They even continued charging long enough to drain my business savings account, thanks to the overdraft protection I signed up for. I’m not going to give numbers. It was all the money that I had made since October. The Christmas and winter holidays are my most lucrative season. I feel so violated. It turns out this time, “they” went to a Verizon in Florida and just kept buying things one at a time until they couldn’t anymore. The hardest part of a crime like this is that you don’t see it coming. And I’ll probably never know who “they” are. I want to have compassion. I want to find a way to explain or justify this behavior. Unfortunately, I think this is one of those times when it’s fair to conclude that sometimes people just do shitty things.
Here’s the thing; I’m the person who randomly gives flowers to strangers. I try to be as kind as possible to people and the planet. I make jewelry using recycled materials whenever possible. I create pieces that speak to people’s intentions and hold positive meanings. I attend and donate to a UU church, I sing in two community choirs. I’m a good mom, wife, friend...damnit, I’m a good and decent person. I would never, ever even think about doing this to someone else. Yet, not for the first time I’m the victim of theft. In my adult lifetime, I have had my home(s) broken into three different times, my car stolen, another car broken into, packages stolen from my front porch, my wallet stolen, my social security card and identity stolen...when I get to thinking about it, it definitely feels like more than my share of this kind of crap. And now this. Some faceless stranger across the country decided to steal all of my hard earned money. And then spent it all at Verizon. I want to be able to forgive them without reservation. I want to be the kind of person who refuses to give “them” any power over me. I want to rise above and move on, knowing that I’ll get my money back after a couple hours at the credit union tomorrow. (This time it’s many transactions over several days because I didn’t catch it right away.) I want to be able to see how well prepared I am as a credit union member for situations like this. I want to not have to worry about when it will happen again. I want people to behave better. And for the love of all that is holy, I want them to stop taking my money and my stuff. But it’s hard to be those things right now. Right now, I’m angry, anxious and a little more cynical than I was this morning...
So to “them” I say, I hope that you can make better choices in the future. I hope that you know that even though you could have, you didn’t hurt me. I hope that your face shows up in the security feed and that somehow you are held accountable for your crimes. I hope you know that I will forgive you. Maybe not today. But sometime soon. And I will be free of the consequences of your bad behavior. I hope your life or thinking improves somehow so that you no longer act as if stealing from innocent people is an okay thing to do. I hope you know that my faith in humanity will be restored by others who do the right thing by me. I hope you discover a better way to use your creativity.
Oh, and I hope you learn that karma is real.