The Key Card:

It Takes a Worried Woman to Sing a Worried Song

“Do you want me to turn this in?” My daughter asked as I handed her my hotel key card. 

“Well sure, why not?” I answered.

“You know they can store all your information on this card, your credit card number, address. . . “

“Really? Don’t they just reprogram them, which means one less tiny piece of plastic in a landfill somewhere.” It was my turn to be the smart one.

“Aren’t you worried?” Carrie asked again.

“No, you can turn it in.” And I started to load the car with our luggage.


Really? Was she really all that concerned about what a hotel clerk was doing with the key cards after guests checked out? Were they in the back office downloading information they would use later to access my credit card account and buy a car maybe? But more important should I worry about this?

That was the big question for me. I’m 75. There’s not much room left in the worry portion of my brain. Just to get started, I’m worried about my friends’ health, my health, global warming, and the Trump presidency. Stuff I can do nothing about.

There’s a whole folder, rather several folders in my brain of things to worry about. Should I take Allegra for summer allergies—actually a debilitating headache that accompanies the allergies? It might give me Alzheimer’s. Speaking of Alzheimer’s, what about the fact that when I get up in the morning, my words come out like I have paste in my mouth—slowly. And I might even search for a word. This gets worse when I listen to myself and try to speak at the same time. And while we’re on the subject of health, what about gum erosion and the tense shoulders I get when I sit over the computer for a long time? I do love it when a young person complains about this. Or the good ol’ mucus, much more, it seems, as I’ve aged. Does this mean anything? A cancerous polyp in my throat, maybe? Do throats even get polyps?

Every day I open my email to advice on health. I probably clicked on these sites once, and now they target me. Usually they want to sell me something, and showing me something scary might get me to spend money on a “cure.” Why am I sluggish? What about menopause fat? Is it real or do I just eat too much? Is that fat around my middle indicative of silent diabetes? Is plaque accumulating in my arteries, threatening to break away and give me a stroke that will leave my tongue paralyzed so I can never speak with paste in my mouth again?

And my daughter’s worried about someone stealing my credit card information from my hotel key card. Daughter dear, have I got worries for you! What about that non-grass fed steak my husband keeps buying? I do so want to eat it, but that animal might have prions, which everyone knows will give you Alzheimer’s. Then there’s the question of whether the animal had a good life. I suspect not, but unless I go out and inspect the fields of happily grazing cows, I’ll never know, will I? 

The list of worries about food is probably the longest—well, on any given day health worries will probably Trump food worries—notice I capitalized “Trump” because there’s always that worry. Right now, he could be watching TV, maybe a thriller, and he looks at that button that deploys nuclear weapons and before anyone can stop him, he’s pressed it. Meanwhile Federal lands are being sold to oil producers, but then it won’t matter when whomever Trump bombs will by now have retaliated.

Image result for Worry

Back to that hotel key card. Baby, I’m just holding it together at 75. The world threatens to come back at me every day of my life. I can’t possibly worry about everything I should be worrying about, least of all my key card.  

Maybe I’ll just settle down with a nice cold drink (Yes, I know, soda is bad for me, so it can’t be soda. Maybe iced tea.) and read some escapist fiction, if I can find any, that is.  Or I’ll look out the window at the chickadees, who’ve built a nest in our birdhouse, flying back and forth from the feeder tending hopefully to the next generation. When I take a walk later, I’ll see marigolds lifting their heads to the sun. In spite of a terrible winter and rainy spring, they wisely celebrate our Minnesota summer. And maybe, for a short time, I won’t have anything to worry about.

The preponderance of evidence suggests that key-card data theft is nothing more than an urban legend, but some travelers remain unconvinced.

(And a shout out to my daughter, who claims that throwing away that key card is one less thing to worry about.)

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About Karen Martha

I am a searcher and not always sure about what I’m looking for. I’ve lived in thirty-nine houses in four states and changed my name five times. One would think I embrace change, yet I find it discombobulating. My unrest is part of what inspires this blog on retirement. It’s like a last chance to live reflectively, instead of wandering helter-skelter into whatever shows up to keep me occupied. I’m interested in the soul work that presents itself at various times in our lives and in how that changes us. In past lives I taught middle school math and science, raised two children and helped with four grandchildren, finished four degrees, worked as a professor and researcher, and married three times—whew. In my present, retired life, I’m tutoring 4th graders, learning rosemaling, and when I’m not working out—writing—writing about this wonderful, often painful, and fascinating journey.

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