I had just told the story of why I carried a combination wallet-phone case the day before it went missing. In self-deprecation, I explained to a friend that I had a month where I lost credit card three times and then decided to make the switch.
“But now if you lose it, won’t it be twice as bad?”
I had bragged that it hadn’t happened since and then less than 24 hours later, I was furiously emptying out my bags in the middle of a Berlin Airbnb in a state of utter panic and deep embarrassment.
Past perfect simple can be used to indicate which of two past actions happened first. This past week, it was a struggle to keep the order of my actions straight.
After finally finishing up my TEFL certification, a group of nine of us decided to celebrate with a trip to Berlin. A few were departing in different directions, but we were delaying those inevitable, pesky emotions for the time being and just focusing on four days of fun.
I left on the early bus with the three others who weren’t taking a round trip back to Prague. Joel was on his way to Portugal and then back to the US afterwards, Megan and Colette were going to Poland, and I was headed west on a trip that I still needed to figure out.
Nathaniel, Alex, Richard, Elan and Bethany were leaving later and joining us there.
Our bus ride was a pretty standard journey. Other than buying some sandwiches that were labelled as being ‘golf’ flavoured, it wasn’t particularly memorable. I did get a jolt when some armed German border guards got on the bus to check passports and the bag I kept mine in had temporarily slid out of my sight under the seat, but that was just a temporary discomfort.
At that moment, I remember making a mental note to make sure I checked that I had everything important with me as often as I could. Flashforward to getting off the bus in the outskirts of Berlin and making sure I picked up my wallet-phone that was tucked off to the side next to the window.
And then there’s a gap.
And then there’s me, freaking out at the Airbnb when everyone else is just getting ready to go out to eat and get our Berlin adventure started.
I think I did an okay job of letting it slide for the time being. Colette phoned our Uber driver to see if I left it there and Bethany used her German-speaking skills to call the bus depot. There were no immediate responses and I quickly cancelled my cards while trying to still enjoy myself in this brand new, giant amazing city.
And despite my stress, I did. We took in the sights, experienced German cuisine, had some drinks, had some laughs, took an alternative street art walking tour, went to the Spy Museum and rode down a big slide at a Christmas Market.
Accepting that I would probably just have to slowly replace my phone and all my cards after my friends went back to Prague, I gradually gave up hope. And then out of the blue, there was a message for me on the Language House TEFL facebook group. One of my instructors had been contacted by someone about finding my wallet in Germany.
As I soon came to understand, I had a business card in my wallet from one of the English teaching job schools’ presentations and the person who came across my wallet-phone contacted them and eventually was put in touch with the Language House.
Over the moon that I wouldn’t have to replace everything in my wallet (which I knew to be a great pain thanks to that one infamous month), I immediately got in touch with them. I was ready to go wherever I need to that instant to get it back. But the wallet wasn’t even in Berlin.
It didn’t take me too long to figure out that the city of Potsdam is very close to Berlin and was probably where the bus station was, but for a second I thought my stuff might have gone on some wild ride across the country and my travels were now going to be determined by some wild adventure across Europe tracking down my dumb wallet-phone.
That’s the other function of past perfect simple, to give the reason for a past event. I had clearly dropped my phone in Potsdam and that’s how it ended up there. Where exactly? I don’t know, but the woman who had my phone left me with one more interesting piece of information after arranging a time and place for me to pick it up at her office (in Potsdam).
According to her text, all the cards were in the wallet but the phone was ‘brokken’. I hoped that this wasn’t just a spelling mistake but also a mistranslation of the word ‘dead’ or ‘out of batteries.
The next day in Potsdam (which is really nice, by the way), however, I discovered a sad sight.
My phone looked like it had been shot multiple times and left for dead. Pressing the power button, it seemed to have some life in it somewhere, but it was buried too deep for me to communicate with it (or use it to check Facebook).
But I did get my cards back. The hold I put on the credit card lasted too long and it was cancelled. A new one is being delivered to Berlin on Monday. I’ve also replaced my phone with a new cheap one, but so far I haven’t been able to get my SIM card to work.
During this whole wallet situation, I also dropped my camera off my bed and broke my kit lens. It definitely wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened but still a pain. I replaced it with a better one from a used camera store, but overall this has been quite an expensive few days.
At the end of the day today, I should have everything recovered as I start the next leg of my journey. I’m headed to Hannover today, where I’ll stay for a few days and then go to Amsterdam. I’ll be keeping my wallet-phone close.