What’s In My Wallet: $39 in Cash, Business Cards and My Parents’ AmEx

by Julian Hattem

Most of us carry wallets. What’s in your wallet, Julian Hattem?

My wallet is a worn brown leather trifold, frayed at the edges and weathered on the sides. It’s always with me. When I check my pockets upon getting up to go anywhere I pat my pants to look for my keys, cell phone and wallet. Of those, my wallet, in the back left pocket, is probably the one I would worry most about losing. What’s in it right now?

Thirty nine dollars in cash. One twenty, three fives and four ones.

A D.C. Public Library card. I’ve used this, unfortunately, only once or twice, when my computer broke a year and a half ago and I used the public library to apply for jobs. I was unemployed then, and had a lot of time on my hands so I also checked out a couple of books to read, including a compendium of New Yorker essays about sports that had some gems.

Driver’s license. Issued by the District of Columbia.

Debit card. I use this local bank called Eagle Bank, which I like not only because I get the self-satisfied smugness of guilting other people about their use of morally questionable institutions, but the card’s face also has a huge bald eagle picture that is pretty impressive.

Harris Teeter VIC card. This is one of those discount club cards for the supermarket near me. I could probably just enter my phone number into the computer but for whatever reason I keep the actual card in my wallet and scan it at self checkout (I only use self checkout).

Five health, dental and vision insurance cards. My work recently switched providers and gave us new cards. I’m not sure which is which, so I keep them both in my wallet. I also used to be on my parents’ health plan until I got this job, and though I no longer need it I think they are prevented from dropping me off their coverage until a certain date, so I carry that one with me as well.

American Express credit card. This is in my parents’ name because I don’t have a credit card of my own. This was the “for emergencies only” card that I had in college and never really got rid of. I’ve used it once in the last two years, when my debit card was denied at a going-out-of-business sale at Filene’s Basement. I’ve thought about getting a card for myself, maybe one of the frequent flier miles ones that people on this blog talk about, but I’m intimidated by the numbers and acronyms I don’t understand, and, anyway, for the most part I’ve managed just fine relying on my debit card.

WMATA Smart Trip card. This gets me on trains and buses.

Twelve of my own business cards. I work for a company that places a lot of importance on business cards, so they’re actually pretty nice, but I can never get over the awkward self-awareness of actually handing another person my own business card. Whenever I do I feel like I’m playing pretend grownup. But I have a box of 500, so any time there is an opportunity to give one to a friend, or drop it in a jar to win a free sandwich, I make sure I am prepared.

Fourteen various other cards and IDs. Among them: a District of Columbia voter registration card, the business cards of both of my parents, two friends and my partner, three different copies of AAA cards, a GEICO car insurance card, and my old college ID, for getting the discount at movie theaters.

Julian Hattem lives in Washington, D.C., and has a blog and is even on Twitter. Photo: Shutterstock/mapichai

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