Sunday, April 29, 2012

Crossing Paths: The Wallet

One of life's true joys is a random act of kindness. I'd rather be on the giving end, allowing God to bless others and simply using me as an instrument, although throughout my life people, both friends and strangers, have blessed me with acts of kindness in the form of words and deeds without a single expectation of reciprocation, except for a heartfelt thank you. In December of last year, I rented a car and before I turned it in, I found a wallet in the glove compartment. It was bright pink and flowery, and obviously not my brother's wallet, with whom I'd shared the car. We looked through it for identification, and guessed with the contents that it belonged to a child or a teenager. Since it was around the holidays, I told him, 'I'm going to mail it to its owner. If we return it to the rental place, she'll never get it back.' It also had gift cards, so for a teen, I knew it was a loss. The only identifying information we could find was an email address (which is actually good for the teen) so I sent her an email letting her know I found her wallet, and if she'd like, I would simply mail it to her school. She didn't know me, so I thought that would be the safest alternative for its return. I wrapped the wallet in pink tissue paper, stuck it in an overnight envelope, and waited to hear from its owner. I check my email daily, so after a couple of weeks, I was surprised that I hadn't received a response. A month passed by, and still no response. I looked through it once more, hoping to find another email or an address, but there was nothing. I knew at this point I could have returned it to the car rental company, but I'd had some losses myself, including a camera, a CD holder full of CDs, two car chargers and a small shopping bag (that had slid under the seat) of brand new cosmetics. With each incident (and mind you, these were all separate and over a period of dozens of years) I'd called, returned to the counter, and my property had either not been turned in, or they hadn't seen it. I think the camera was probably my biggest loss. I'd placed it in the glove compartment, headed to the airport on the shuttle, and then realizing I'd left it, I rode the shuttle back to the car rental company. They were cleaning out the car and the camera was gone. I quizzed each employee who had come into contact with the car, and they all said they hadn't seen it. I checked the counter and the lost and found, and of course, no one had turned it in. This certainly isn't an attack on car rental employees, but they have an advantage. If there is an item they find and wish to keep, they can keep it because there is a clause on our rental agreement that says they are not liable for lost property. Okay, now I'm rambling. Still thinking about my Nikon. Now back to my story. Remember Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway? Where he was marooned on an island after a plane crash? He named the ball Wilson and used a bunch of products from other packages to survive, but there was one package he kept in tact. He was stranded for four years, and after he was saved, he delivered the package. Okay, that was a stretch, but I wanted to return the wallet for the sheer satisfaction of ensuring that its owner got it back, intact. Last week I received an email from its owner. She wrote that she hardly ever checked that particular email address, but she was hoping I still had her wallet. I wrote that I did, sent her my phone number, and she and her mother agreed to meet me at a nearby mall. Two days later and nearly five months after I sent the email we connected, and it was one of the most pleasant encounters I'd ever had with strangers. Her mother, a schoolteacher,was one of the nicest people I've ever met, and her daughter, the owner of the wallet, is an aspiring writer. They brought me a box of See's Candy, my favorite (and how could they have known that?) and we stood out in the parking lot and talked as if we had known each other for years. Our conversation was both friendly, pleasant and delightful. We hugged, and when I left, I had such a great sense of fulfillment. I know it sounds silly, but I guess it doesn't take much to make me happy. Happiness is returning a lost wallet to its rightful owner.

1 comment:

  1. That's a cool story and something that I would do. Man we are so much alike. I had a similar story and tracked the guy down. His wallet was placed in my mail Box because he used to live there and his license reflected his old address (my house). I found a phone number for him and returned the wallet.


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