On Friday, I found a wallet on a New York City bus. Money still in it. Driver’s license. VISA card. Debit card. Picture of Jesus.
I called the VISA card company and reported the now-found, but previously lost, wallet. And I gave my name and number so that man could call me and we could arrange to meet so I could give him back his wallet.
This man has an out-of-state driver’s license — and I don’t mean New Jersey. The state was clear across the country. What if he cannot get home because he has no ID with which to board the plane? I felt bad for this man I did not know as I imagined how unnerved he must be not to have the contents of his wallet.
After a few hours of not hearing from the man, I started to go through his wallet more fully. It felt ooky. His wallet told a confusing story. Why two NYC metro cards? Why so many New York-related business cards? They were not new cards; they had frayed edges. And a New York State health insurance card.
At least it was clear that the resolution would NOT be sending the wallet to the address listed on his driver’s license.
All of the detective shows started rushing through my head, complete with Law and Order music. Except this was nothing so dramatic. I was not searching for a missing person, just a person who was missing his wallet.
Next course of action? Social media. That scourge and blessing.
I found him. He does, in fact, live in New York. I sent messages to him through various social media outlets.
On Saturday, he responded and we talked. I told him I also called the debit card company to report the lost card and there was still money in the wallet. He seemed happy and relieved.
We arranged to meet on Sunday. He brought his wife, and two kids with him, so they could all thank me. He was in his early thirties and she was younger. I was introduced to his son as the “person that Mommy and Daddy had prayed for” and the wife was grateful to God that I used my “lawyer mind” to figure out how to find them. (She had asked my profession.)
“So, you aren’t from around here, are you?” I asked with a smile on my face.
“We are not. We did not think that we would ever get the wallet back, here in New York City.”
Oy. Oy. Oy.
“Well, as someone born and raised here, I think you will find as many good and kind people here as anywhere else.”
SILENCE. Did they want this to be Sodom or Gommorrah? And raise kids here?
“How can we thank you?”
“You seem like a lovely family and kind people. That is thanks enough. All the best to you.” And I shook their hands and we parted.
Back into our separate worlds. Because strangers don’t have to become friends. And not every chance meeting needs to be a religious and cultural enrichment moment. We, strangers and friends, just have to watch out for each other sometimes.