The Pat Down
January 28, 2014
By Michael A. Calvert
Time for his morning pat down. He was dressed and ready to descend the stairs from the bedroom. He considered it a failure, perhaps a minor one but still regrettable, if he had to go back upstairs before leaving for work.
Every morning he patted all his pockets, hip pockets for his wallet and handkerchief, front pockets for keys and coins, suit coat pocket for his phone and fountain pen, and his shirt pocket for his and his secretary’s “to do” lists, neatly printed in red on index cards.
An empty pocket abruptly stopped him as he moved toward the stairs. If keys did not jingle when he patted his right front pocket, an emergency search was launched. “Honey, have you seen my keys?” His wife always told him not to rush from one place to another before thinking about where they could be. She always said, “Don’t do something. Just stand there. Think.” It usually worked.
The absence of the wallet brought a rush of panic. “Oh my God!” he might mutter. He envisioned himself in line at the DMV replacing his driver’s license, but he usually found it after his wife asked a few questions about what pants he wore yesterday, when did he last see the wallet, and the like.
A missing handkerchief or and comb was not a crisis. He had Kleenex at the office and he could part his hair passably well with his fingers. Still, he always patted that pocket.
Coins in the left front pocket were merely convenient for parking meters and the candy machine. One goal was to rid himself of those pesky coins that filled the dish on his dresser, particularly the worthless pennies.
On most mornings, the routine found every pocket responding to a pat with the appropriate bulge or jingle. Then he proceeded down the stairs into his office off the dining room, put his files into his brief case and set the combination lock.
“Are you sure you have all your things?” his wife asked. She knew it would ruin his morning and possibly his entire day, if he discovered an empty pocket when he got to the office.
One more pat down. He was equipped and ready to take on the day.