My handbag, typical of any other woman's, is like Alibaba's cave. It carries anything from a pink multi-tool to Band Aids with Star Wars pictures on them. But, I always manage to produce from it the necessary in a time of need.
I often muse at what it must look like, submerging myself into my tote bag, imagining an inaudible drum roll and "ta daa", as items are eventually lifted from the "great beyond".
But what I failed to produce from it this week, as the expectant shop assistant watched my frantic search, was my purse.
"It must be here somewhere…" I said, feeling my eyes blur with stress. Fortunately, there was no one else in the queue behind me.
"Maybe it's in your car," she offered consolation.
"Yes maybe," I replied.
The few steps towards my car felt like those nightmares when your feet seem to be glued to the ground, making you move in slow motion.
Central locking opened with an additional thud as my heart already pounded in my ears. A quick feel through all the typical spaces in my car where purses can slip into. Nothing. Under the seats? Nothing.
Okay, so I won't be buying the much-needed grape-coloured wool today to complete a knitting project. Back to the shop.
The tiny ball of wool lying on the large counter emphasises my feeling of desperation. The shop assistant is genuinely empathetic.
Back to my car. Think. Retrace my steps. I have been all over and so, quite clearly, my mind has been too.
The mall. It has to be at the mall, I deduce. Could I have picked a worse place to lose something as vital as a purse, carrying everything needed to keep my life on track, except for my Bible?
Park with screeching tyres, close to the spot I previously occupied. Trotting towards car guard one: "Did you see a white purse?" Negative.
On to car guard two. Repeat question. Negative again. However, slightly older, with more life experience, he calms my panic, referring me to the security office.
"Try security ma'am. Last week, somebody dropped R2 000 in this area and it was safely returned."
Up the escalator. At the top, a well-groomed lady in a reflector jacket, peak cap perched high on her neatly braided hair, smiles as I approach her. Repeat question.
While forming the words, I search her face for a clue as to what her answer might be.
"Yes ma'am. A colleague of mine found it and took it to the security office." Her name is Wendy, but actually she is an angel. In an instant, she changes everything. Driving away from the mall, I am reminded of the words of someone earlier this week, who became a victim of crime at an ATM in the same mall. With a well-rehearsed sleight of hand, his ATM card disappeared in front of his eyes. His words in hindsight: "I didn't think it would happen to me."
But it does. Because we are often so frightfully preoccupied. And others, seeking to gain from this, are not.
An "innocent" selfie with a purchase made, saw my purse slip from my elbow. I didn't think it would happen to me.