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“I’m glad that we are now finally able to speak,” I informed the representative of a corporation under whose name I hold a credit card. We were communicating via telephone. “I have been on hold for some time.”

“And I, sir, am happy to speak with you,” the representative replied. “How may I be of assistance?”

“Well, my story is a long and sad one,” I explained. “Today, I drove from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to Athens, Georgia. En route, I stopped at a Mr. Waffle Rest Stop in Cowpens, South Carolina. There, after examining a collection of Confederate flag keychains, I left my wallet bursting with credit cards and over $100 in cash at the cash register. When I arrived in Athens two hours later, I realized my mistake and, after much research into South Carolina area codes, telephoned this Mr. Waffle. A Mr. Waffle representative confirmed that a wallet matching the one I described had been found by a janitor. I then drove two hours back to Cowpens to reclaim my wallet. I spoke to the janitor who had found the wallet and thanked him for his honesty—-neither my cash nor my credit cards had been stolen. Though this Good Samaritan tried to turn down $20 I offered in thanks, I forced this reward upon him.”

“Excellent,” the representative commented.

“Yes,” I agreed. “However, during the two-hour drive back to Athens from Mr. Waffle, I began to entertain the possibility that a Mr. Waffle janitor had returned my wallet with the undisclosed intent to use my credit card information on the sly at an undetermined point in the future. The more I considered this scenario, the more ingenious it seemed. What better gentleman to rob than one who does not realize he has been robbed?”

“The scenario you imagine is probable,” replied the credit card representative. “Though no unauthorized charges appear on your card at this time, your card has been compromised. For security purposes, I must recommend that you cancel your card immediately.”

“I thought you might say that,” I replied. “But, you see, I am traveling. In fact, at this very moment, I am calling from my sleeping bag on the floor of a group house where four musicians are sleeping wherever they can under a strange portrait of a lion. I cannot receive a new card in the mail. I do not have the time to locate and visit one of your retail locations. Though my credit card may have been compromised, I need my credit card to pay for traveling expenses.”

“I understand, sir,” replied the representative. “Still, unidentified parties may use your card at any time. Our company cannot protect you.”

“But don’t you see?” I insisted. “The noble janitor who found my wallet didn’t bother my cash and tried to refuse the modest reward I offered. Don’t you think it unlikely that such a unassuming man would be the perpetrator of elaborate credit card schemes?”

“Sir, I have given you my opinion,” the representative observed. “If you have all the answers, why did you call me?”

To this articulate rejoinder, I had no reply.