I found it at St. Vinnie’s–one of my favorite thrift stores–while I was home for Christmas.
I’ve wanted one of those bangle-style hinged watches ever since Phebe got that cool one long ago, and I fell in love at first sight with this one—simple and silver, with a squarish face, playful numbers all different happy colors, and an affordable price. And it was running just fine—something you don’t take for granted with a thrift store find. And besides, I actually needed it—I’d been looking for a watch all week, since I don’t have a phone here in Jamaica to use to keep track of time. I was delighted.
A few days later I made it through security at Portland International Airport, and stopped at the first restroom I saw. I took off my watch and laid it on the counter as I washed my hands, then spent some time fixing my hair before grabbing my bags and heading down to my gate.
I settled down in a comfortable place, and reached into my backpack for the packet of notes a friend had handed me at church a few hours before. I read through the messages from the kids I used to care for and their wonderful mother, smiling all the way.
I replaced the letters, and sat for a moment, wondering what to do next. How much time did I have before my flight started to board? I glanced around, looking for a clock, but not seeing one. Then, Duh, my watch, and suddenly I felt the bareness on my wrist. Immediately I remembered taking it off in the bathroom, and knew I must have left it there.
I scurried back the way I had come, praying all the while. I knew it was just a watch, but at the same time, it was one I really liked, and I did need it, and this is not the first time I’ve absentmindedly left something somewhere and consequently lost it.
The counter was empty.
My next thought: if some kind soul picked it up, where would they take it?
So I went to the little TSA cubicle nearby, and asked, and they looked in their little Lost & Found basket, and it wasn’t there. They gave me a card for the airport’s Lost & Found, but with me leaving in an hour and heading overseas, I knew that even if my watch did end up there, it would take a lot of hassle to retrieve it.
I searched the bathroom one last time, even looking in the trash cans, and then walked dejectedly back to my gate. I kept my eyes open for the little girl who had been in the restroom while I was, in hope that she might have it, but didn’t see her.
And then I passed another restroom, and felt a sudden prompting to go in and look around. That’s silly, I thought. There is absolutely no way that my watch could be in this restroom when I haven’t even set foot in it. But I shrugged and stepped inside.
The first thing that caught my eye was a cleaning cart, and suddenly it hit me—I remembered, as I left the restroom that first time, I had almost run into the cleaning lady, who was on her way in! She, of course, would have picked up my watch.
And suddenly, there she was—the same lady—and there, attached to a lanyard around her neck, was my watch! I was so astonished I’m sure I hardly made sense, but somehow I let her know the watch was mine, and she handed it to me, and I thanked her and walked out with a huge smile on my face, praising my amazing God.
I had been this close to ignoring Him and just walking on. It had seemed like such a ridiculous thing to do.
And I wonder, What if I hadn’t listened, pushing away His prompting with all my cold logic, like I do, far too often?
And I wonder, How often do I miss out on the blessings He wants to give me when I ignore that still, small voice?