Lost Cards (Issue 1054)

In which we are reminded that people won’t buy, sell, or make a move until they conclude that they can’t do things on their own with their existing resources.

I don’t know how I did it. On Tuesday evening, I went to a store in Harvard Square with three cards in my right pants pocket – Driver’s License, Visa Card, and American Express Card – to buy a phone. While in the store, I removed them from my pocket and handed two of them to the store sales rep. He handed them back to me. I walked home.

On Wednesday afternoon, wearing the same pair of pants, as I walked from my car to a restaurant to meet a friend for lunch, I reached into my right pocket for my license and my Visa card. I always carry them in that pocket. Not there.

“Huh,” I thought, through the shot of adrenaline. “I must have left them on the dining room table next to the mail I brought in last night.”

My friend bought lunch.

On my early evening return home, I went straight to the dining room table. No license, no credit cards. I looked in the family room, the first room I entered when I returned from the phone store. No license, no credit cards. I checked the kitchen. No license, no credit cards, and no ideas.

On Thursday, I worked from home. I called the phone store as soon as it opened. “Don’t have them,” they replied. I checked my wallet: The AMEX card was there (so that made it home from the phone store… so it was likely the missing cards were in the house). Every time I took a break, I looked for the missing cards. Nothing.

“Has anyone charged anything on your card?”, my wife asked. “Maybe you should just order a duplicate driver license and call the bank and get a new card.”

“Thank you,” I replied. “They’re here, someplace. I’ll keep looking.”

On Friday morning, I worked from home again. Every time I took a break, I looked for the missing cards. Nothing.

“It’s easy to get a duplicate driver license,” offered my wife. “Same with the credit card.”

“Yeah, I know, thank you, and they’re here, someplace,” I replied.

By this point, I’d pretty much turned everything in the house over at least once, so….. Late on Friday afternoon, I ordered a new driver license online.

“Have you found your credit card yet?”, prompted my wife.

“Not yet,” I replied, “and it’s such a pain to replace the card information in all the places that charge monthly to the card. I’d really rather find the card.”

The least risky thing to do, the appropriate thing to do, would have been to call my bank on Wednesday afternoon, right after my friend bought lunch for cardless Nick, to order a new card. But I wanted to FIND THE OLD CARD.

Why? Convenience, maybe. Save the time involved with changing the credit card info for the monthly charges. More likely, I wanted the vindication or reassurance that would come with “See, I found them. Here they are!” That I didn’t lose the cards on the street as I walked home. That I didn’t leave them in the store. That it was just a minor oversight, a temporary inconvenience. “See, I’m alright; they were here all along.”

Sometimes we just have to let people work through their processes. They won’t buy, sell, or make a move until they’ve come to the conclusion that they can’t find a solution or do it themselves with their own resources.

After breakfast on Sunday, I called the bank.

Nick Miller is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. He assists banks and credit unions to generate more and more profitable relationships, faster, with business clients, their owners, and their employees through better sales strategies and execution. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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