“You don’t understand, I need that credit card back!!”

I almost fell to my knees to pray to Allah, Goddess, anyone.

Montreal, I really like you. It’s been fun meeting new people and getting an invite to one of the coolest brewpubs in the city. You know what’s wonderful about you? I’ll walk past a Reitman’s and beside it is a Catholic church built in the 1700’s. How do you do that? Make the ordinary so extraordinary? The point is I’m late. Very. Of course it was my fault I got off at St. Laurent instead of  Laurier, started hoofing it, realizing these ineffectual feet couldn’t possibly make it to Dieu du Ciel on time. And I am grateful for the chance to have this time. Whoever I have to thank – big hugs and kisses. And here’s my blood in exchange. But come on, an $8.00 cab ride towards disaster?

The cab driver was amiable, but took forever to process my card, slide it through the machinery already – I wanted to shout at him to hurry.

It was a slow-mo replay, he seemed to take hours instead of minutes to complete the visa slip.

He had my card cradled on his thigh when it slid off and disappeared.

Semi panic singed my throat as he clumsily handed me the slip with a goofy smile. You realize THAT was 1 of 2 cards I have with me. PERIOD.

My voice struggled to remain casual. “Oh yeah,  guess I need my card back. Can you find it?”

“Sure, no prob.”

It was momentairly amusing to watch a grown man root underneath his butt cheeks, until he produced nothing.

“Hmm.. that’s weird, it was just here.”

Weird or scam? Was this guy playing me?

That’s when I spluttered with “don’t understand, NEED this card back”.

His eyes registered my message.

He moved the seat back, wasn’t there. We moved the seat forward. Fingers squished between the seat and gearbox. Big fat zero. We lifted the back and front mats, maddeningly absent.

He wanted to pull off to the side, I stressed needing to tell my friend I was here, given I was an hour late already.

“If I run in, you’re not going to take off are you?”

“Trust me sweetie, if I didn’t have to be here, I wouldn’t be.” Why did that sound like my love life?

He pulled up next to Dieu du Ciel and I ran in, told Andy, Andy ran out to help.

We kept moving the seats, using the cab driver’s flashlight on his cell phone to peer between the seats or gearbox.

His pants were steadily sliding down until all I saw was white cotton underwear. He was sweating heartily. As was I.

Andy stood by handing me pens.

Any vestige of calm crumbled. Where the hell was this card??

It was finally determined through detailed detective work that my card had slipped inside the gearbox where the handbrake sat. IN-FUCKING-SIDE.

Andy kept handing me pens – how the hell would that help?? Poking is not what I need. A crowbar. A bodybuilder. Someone on illicit drugs who believes he has superhuman strength. SOMEONE.

Cab driver tried to lift the plastic cover off the gearbox to no avail. I tried to poke my small hand in grabbing at it like a fish nipping at coral plankton.

I kept drilling into him that I’m on a round-the-world trip, I need this card, getting another one is not an option. You understand??

At one point I started to tear at the cover and almost pulled it off, surprised my underdeveloped fingers had such strength.

All the floor mats were strewn on the pavement. Credit card slips lay scattered across the back seat, evidence of a ransack, not an innocent cab ride. The doors swung open, a pure scene of chaos against the muggy evening of the Plateau.

The credit card had shifted so far down we couldn’t even see it any longer.

I’ve never wanted a single object so desperately in my life – no man, piece of clothing, even sustenance could compare.

Just the thought of having to deal with credit card companies.

I felt bad for the cab driver who announced this wasn’t even his car and he was covering for a friend.

DUDE, I feel for you. But…. To call and cancel my card, when it’s right there, within reach??? That’s injustice. Sorely unfair!!

Calls to dispatch resulted in a discovery, a screw driver housed in the side pocket on the driver’s side.

Within minutes my Mastercard with a ladybug embossed on it was free.

Shaking with joy and relief, I pulled a sweaty, stressed cab driver towards me, planting a kiss on his cheek. Hallelujah!

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!!”

We parted ways, leaving the poor guy in a heap on the driver’s seat. So much for covering for a friend.

Dieu du Ciel was packed. The beer, divine (try Rosée d’hibiscus 5%), but something marked the evening.

How quickly travel can switch from serene to straight up insanity.

The card was free, but was I? When 200 objects are narrowed down to 50, look how precious they become.

Are objects just as significant in travel as in life?

But still, the beer tasted sweet and so did victory over disaster averted again. Until next time.

Photo: Herman Yung