I was riding on the bus to work one morning last week when a chill passed through me.
My hand shot up to my chest and a quick pat down confirmed what I already knew to be true: I had forgotten my work ID.
I shook my head in disbelief. How could I have been so stupid? I always check to see that I’ve got my ID card before I go out the door. Except for today.
I wasn’t in the best of moods to begin with and this only helped to bring me down a few notches lower. It didn’t mean the end of life as we know it, of course, but if you’re looking for reasons to be unhappy you’ll never be disappointed.
It’s a pain in the neck to get around my office without the ID badge. I have to show it to the security guards in the lobby in order to enter the building and then I need it to unlock the door on my floor so I can reach my desk. The card also comes in handy when I want to get to the men’s room.
I pictured myself standing in the elevator bank like a lost puppy relying upon the kindness of co-workers to zap me in.
I’ve done the same thing for these people when they were similarly jammed up, but I didn’t like having to ask them for help.
When I got to my building the security guard had me pose for one of those god-ugly ID stickers that make you look like you’re being held hostage by terrorists.
I winced when I saw the image that came beeping out of the camera. I was wearing a ski cap and a heavy coat and I looked so miserable, so lost; it was as if the guard had taken a picture of my mind rather than my face.
Pick A Card
Then I had to trudge up to the security office and hand over my driver’s license so I could get a temporary pass. I didn’t like the idea of leaving my license behind, but at least I could get to the john without circumnavigating my floor like a human sputnik.
I felt half-dressed without my ID card. Throughout the morning I kept reaching up to touch it only to find that it wasn’t there and it reminded me of my carelessness.
My ID card has a photo of me as well, only its in color and I’m wearing a suit. It had been taken five years ago by the security chief at our old building on Hudson Street.
He was a retired police officer who came from my neighborhood of Bay Ridge and when the photo was ready he took one look at it and said, “you look very stoic.” I assume that was a compliment.
And now that card was back in Bay Ridge sitting uselessly on my kitchen table while I snuck my office like a spy on a secret mission.
However, as the day wore on, I got used to not having my ID badge and then I started to feel liberated. There’s more to me than a plastic card with a picture on it. It was like I was somebody else in some strange way; I was me, but I kind of wasn't. And it felt all right.
The Stoics of Ancient Greece believed that “man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them.” I could see that my view was so negative that a simple mistake had turned into a catastrophe. Forgetting my ID card was actually a blessing because I was able to step outside of myself for a little while.
I was going to destroy that horrible day pass photo, but I decided to hold on to it to remind myself that my view of life has to change. I’ll keep it on the kitchen table right next to my ID card.