I always wondered why people run around with photos of children in their wallets.
It’s a bit like people who fly the national flag in their front garden. Are they so confused they’ve forgotten what country they’re in? They need a reminder?
“Shoot honey, you know what? I just looked out the window and we live in Orstraylia!”
“Well, Big Daddy, I done told you not to turn left at Alberquerque! You just don’t listen to me.”
“Sorry, Big Momma. Now get on over here so I can…”
Okay we’ll leave it there. But it’s the same thing with kiddie photos.
You need a reminder that you’ve got a spouse and two children? You’ve forgotten your children’s features? You have trouble describing them to strangers?
“My children? Yes I’ve got…hang on let me just check my wallet…wow okay! Yes I’ve got TWO children!”
“A boy and a girl. I think – hang on. No no no! What was I thinking! It was identical twins and we adopted them from Vietnam!”
None of this made any sense.
But then today I think I finally got it.
There was a man in the supermarket. He was pushing his trolley aimlessly. He stopped at the breakfast cereals, picked up some boxes and put them in his trolley. Then he took them out again. Unsure, he patted his pockets for his shopping list. But he didn’t have it with him.
I heard his groan of angry frustration 10 metres away.
A little later I ended up behind him at the checkout. He had filled his trolley, mainly with nappies and tins of formula. Shuffling through his wallet, he turned his sleep-deprived, sad eyes at the check-out lady. His fists were clenched white.
“Sorry I don’t have my credit card. One of the kids was playing with my wallet…”
I caught a glimpse in the open wallet of photos of his three children under five. It looked like a piece of old chewing gum had also been stuffed into the plastic sleeve. It was pink.
Our eyes met for a moment. It was one of those moments of quiet communication. I gave him a little nod as he shuffled off to put his products back on the shelves. He nodded back.
And I understood what kiddie photos in wallets were all about.