Brian and the Case of the Missing Receipt

Memory is a fickle thing. Mine about drove me crazy tonight.

A few weeks ago, I took our VW Rabbit in for routine maintenance. An unfortunate side effect of this was that our car stereo wouldn’t turn on anymore. The mechanic said he couldn’t fix it because it was installed by someone else and he didn’t have the necessary tools.

Back in January we had the car stereo replaced at Best Buy. I called them up and made a reservation to have the stereo checked out. (On a side note, they didn’t have any appointments for a week. A week! It was very sad driving my car in silence for that long.) When I arrived at Best Buy, the guy at the counter asked if I had the receipt to show that they had installed the stereo.

I immediately thought to myself, “Oh, it’s in the computer bag.” I went out to the car, opened the trunk, and started digging around in my computer bag, but the receipt was nowhere to be found. This had me puzzled because I was sure that’s where it would have been because I brought my computer bag with me last time and stuffed the receipt in one of the pockets in the bag.

Since the receipt was clearly not in my computer bag, I thought maybe I had put it in my glove box. That’s where I normally store receipts after work has been done on the car. That way if I ever have to go back to the mechanic, I know all of my receipts are right there.

No dice. The receipt wasn’t in the glove box either. Now I was stumped. I even looked in the pockets on the side of the car doors, but still no receipt.

Thankfully the guy at Best Buy still had a copy of my receipt in his files. He told me they destroy them after 6 months so he suggested I track it down when I get home. I told him I would. I figured I must have emptied my computer bag at some point in the past several months, and I just needed to look through my papers at home.

Of course I forgot to look when I got home, and I probably wouldn’t have ever looked for the receipt again except our check engine light came on a few days after the car stereo was fixed. So we took the car back to the mechanic, and surprise, surprise, the car stereo stopped working again. Someone suggested there might be an anti-theft device in the car stereo that shuts it down if it somehow gets a message that it might be stolen. We’re hoping that can be turned off because this is a pattern I do not want to repeat every time the car is worked on.

I called Best Buy again and made another reservation to bring the car in. Of course we had to wait another week for an opening.  At this point I’ve taken to playing music through my iPhone speakers while I drive. It’s crappy, but it’s better than nothing.

The reservation is tomorrow, and of course I procrastinated, so this evening I started my search for the Best Buy receipt. I remembered that at some point I had emptied the pockets in my computer bag and put some of the papers on a bookshelf in our bedroom. I went through the papers, but then I realized that they were from last November when I was getting ready to go on a business trip. I didn’t want to lug around papers I wasn’t going to need so I had taken them out of the computer bag. Since the car stereo was replaced in January, there was no way the receipt could be there.

My next stop was the desk in our kitchen. This is where I should point out that I hate filing. Instead of being a filer, I’m a piler. I have a place where I make my piles, and I know that that’s my go-to place for important papers. Making a pile requires almost no effort on my part, and in the rare event that I actually need something from the pile, it only takes a few minutes to flip through and find what I need.

I grabbed the pile on my desk and started going through it. I assumed at some point I must have added the receipt to my pile, but again, it wasn’t there. And again, I had the nagging feeling that the receipt should be in my computer bag. So, I went to my office, dug around in the computer bag, and came across a Best Buy receipt!!!!

Oh wait, false alarm. It was the receipt from when I had the stereo checked out a couple of weeks ago. D’oh.

I went through every pocket in the bag, wondering why I was so sure the receipt was in my computer bag, when it clearly was not in my computer bag. I even decided to go through my desk pile again to see if I had somehow missed it.

At this point I was extremely frustrated. I may not be super organized, but I am consistent. I don’t randomly throw things away and I don’t randomly put things down in our house. I have a place for important papers, and that is where it should have been.

I sat down at my computer desk and noticed some papers on the floor next to my computer. At this point I was desperate, so I flipped through a few of those. Then I moved the laptop bag I got for free with my laptop off to the side to look under it. I dug my hands in the pockets as I was moving it, and lo and behold, I felt paper! It was my Best Buy receipt! For real this time!

All of a sudden, it came flooding back to me. When I went to have the stereo installed, I didn’t want to bring my normal computer bag because it’s large and bulky. I knew I was going to walk over to Panera from Best Buy and I wanted something light and compact to carry so I threw my computer into the free, small laptop bag I got with my laptop. When my car was ready, I stuck the receipt in the pocket of the laptop bag, the same thing I would have done if I had brought my regular computer bag, and I came home. Unfortunately, when I took my computer out of that bag, I neglected to take out the receipt.

I felt a huge sense of relief for finding the receipt, but I also felt oddly validated. From the moment I was asked for the receipt a few weeks ago, I KNEW it was in my computer bag. Unfortunately, my memory assumed I meant my usual computer bag, not this other laptop bag that I used one time 5 months ago. So on one hand, I’m happy that my memory was strong enough to know where the receipt should have been this whole time, but I also wish the level of detail involved could have been a tad higher. Then I wouldn’t have wasted most of my night digging around my house in frustration. Thankfully I’m not one of those people who trashes their house when they’re frantically searching for something.


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