Contemporary Clichés

Fiction by K.R. Martinak

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It could happen to you…then what?

Posted by Kyle Martinak on October 20, 2008

My card was declined. I couldn’t use an ATM, or even pay for an 89 cent soda. Nothing. I had no idea why, and I’m willing to admit that I panicked. For a split-second, I had become what George Orwell referred to as “an unperson.”

Last Friday, I had become a victim of Internet banking fraud. My checking account was cleaned out and over-drafted by $147. And the words floated across the stunned surface of my consciousness, “It could happen to you!”

After the initial shock, came the genuine anger. I shouted to my lounging cat, “I would pay every cent they took from me, if only I could find them!”

Anger lifted, and I realized two things. And if anyone can imagine it, I laughed. I chuckled and chortled and giggled like a schoolgirl (a truly frightening sight), and I revisited those fatalistic words: It could happen to you.

The first thing I realized was that i had nothing to fear or worry about. “It” had happened to me, and I was still perfectly fine. The second thing was how much money that had really been stolen from me: a miserable $30. For once, I was glad that I was a stereotypical broke college student.

I can laugh because I discovered the ordeal quickly. Within fifteen minutes, my bank closed my account and stopped my over-draft charges, and erased another $100 transaction that I didn’t recognize.

Here’s the moral, folks: the phrase should be changed from “It could happen to you,” because the truth is that “It WILL happen to you.” Something like this happens to all of us, be it fraud, or burglary, or stepping in dog feces. That’s a fundamental fact of life. The point is, when it does happen, what happens next?

Some people will feel as helpless as I did. Some will become enraged. Honestly, I came to laughter because it wasn’t that big of a deal. It was unfortunate, and it could have been worse, but if I treat everything like a life-and-death situation, I’ll never get out alive.

The next time you have a test, or an interview, or a flat tire, remember Kyle’s bank account, and start laughing. After all, they only got $30. I’ll bet the computer they used to rip me off cost them $3,000.


One Response to “It could happen to you…then what?”

  1. Sharayah said

    I had a similar experience when my GPS was stolen right out of my car. I freaked out for a while, but then I stopped and remembered- the world is still spinning, my heart is still beating, my car still runs…. and there is always chocolate.

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