I walk through a dense crowd of ogling Harvard-types, jammed packed into Harvard Square, for graduation and somesuch. I'm in a rush, everyone seems to be moving sluggishly. I run down the stairs and reach for my wallet to pay my fare for the T. Nothing in my pocket. Look through my bag, nothing there. Sit down at the Dunkin' Donuts table and take everything out. Laptop, keys, The Crystal Text, On Language, cellphone, iPod, "White Noise" from Netflix. People are staring. But no wallet. I realize that someone has stolen my name, and all of my money from my pocket, in the crowd. Probably others, too. Fortunately I'm by the bank and it's still open so I dash over there and have them cancel everything. Call information on the cellphone and cancel all of my other cards, too. I'm penniless. The bank lets me write a check to myself and I get some money. I go home, nameless.
It feels disorienting, being nameless. I can't seem to calm down much, I decide to go to the supermarket. Walking in the doors, in front of the self-checkout machine, there's a wad of 20's just sitting there. I look around for someone who's dropped it. Nobody. There was money in my wallet when it was stolen. I wonder if this is karma here, paying me back. I check my pocket to see if it is the money I lost from the bank. Nope, still there. Somebody else has dropped these 20's. Nobody else sees them. Am I being paid back? Is this karma, I lose money, it is returned to me. An eye for an eye, etc. Desolation and retribution. Nobody will ever know if I take it. The way of the world. They bomb our buildings, we kill their children. They take a house, we take a block. Exchange of prisoners.
No. I look for somebody who's working there, I spot a guy with long dark hair in a Shaw's uniform. My age. Thoughtful looking, perhaps trustworthy.
"Somebody dropped some money there, " I point to the money, "I didn't see anybody drop it."
"Thank you," he says, "thank you very much." Trustworthy lookng. I want to tell him that 2 hours ago somebody in a crowd took my wallet and all of my money, and please that he should not pocket this money, he should save it in case someone comes back to claim it. I want this to stop with me. Please, don't take it, I want to tell him. But namelessness has made me feel uncertain, small.
"Someone will come back for it," I say and that's all. Why can't I tell him more. He's my age, just a guy with a job, just like me. Probably broke, just like me.
It will take effort now, money, to get my name back. I wonder who has it. I wonder who has the image of me, my health insurance cards, my Coop number, all of those numbers whereby the world rewards and punishes me. I am nameless, I should feel free. But I feel invisible. The money from the supermarket will not find its original owner. Perhaps the thoughtful guy will take it. Maybe he's a good man, maybe he opposes the war, maybe he cares for his family. But I can't bring the money back to the person who lost it. Nor can I stop the war, the prison camps, the loss of our rights. I can only cower before them and ask them for my name back and give them some money so they will return it to me. But it was stolen, why should I have to pay? I didn't take the money in the supermarket, why should I have to pay? Nobody will ever know happened in the supermarket. Except for you, that is.