It’s a Wonderful Life

Merrill wallet2

Come to Papa


In this continuation of yesterday’s post (An Honest Person), I decided to name it after my favorite movie of all time, which I had never seen until well into my thirties, when I was staying with my oldest brother and his family one Christmas holiday. It reinforced what I suppose I always knew – that everyone’s life has meaning, and that little things can cause huge ripple effects, a lot of times when we aren’t even aware of them. But more on that another day.

So there I was, in a car with a limited amount of fuel, a thousand miles from home, with no money or credit cards, and no options. No options, that is, if you’re the average person. But this is where your ways are not my ways, and my ways are not your ways, saith the Village Idiot.

As dumb luck would have it, I always carried my checkbook with me on those out of state trips. I had the paranoia of a person who worried about leaving the checkbook in my condo back home and some burglar breaking in, stealing it, posing as me, cashing checks, spending dough, while dancing and doing backflips. I even took the entire box of checks with me on trips! Of course you ask: What about if someone broke into your car? Don’t ask – I’m the Village Idiot, leave it at that. Let’s just say I had a pretty good hiding place in my car.

I went to a branch of my bank – they are located all over the U.S. (another case of dumb luck), and I was able to write a check to cash, without an I.D., but with a few magic questions answered to prove it was me – problem solved. I would have to wait until I got home to get new credit cards – I hope your happy, dishonest thief!

Two days later … yes that’s right, two days later, I got a phone call. The manager from the convenience store informed me that someone had turned in the wallet that very day! And all the money and credit cards were still inside? Yes!

I was about 250 miles from the store when I received the call. I turned around and headed back. I cut off about 50 miles of the trip by going over what’s known as Hwy 1 (AKA the Trough Road) – a gravel and dirt road that was an adventure all by itself. But I was so grateful for the honesty of this one person, I didn’t mind all the bumps and ruts along the road.

But the mystery was why it took so long for somebody to spot the wallet in the parking lot. There are 2 possible explanations. First, I had parked on the opposite side of the lot, away from the store, near the street, and there wasn’t much traffic there. Second, you don’t see a wallet if you aren’t looking for one – you see what you really want to see, as the saying goes. Perhaps all the people, except for that one person, hadn’t noticed it.

But that would also imply that the people who worked in the store hadn’t conducted a very thorough search when I first called. I don’t know, but it didn’t matter at that point. I had my wallet back, with my driver’s license, and all the cash and credit cards untouched. Credit cards that were no longer valid, but so what?

There was one more honest person in the world, and that’s what really mattered.


From A Memoir of Most of It

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