We've all done it, and I did it on Thursday July 26. That's right. I lost my wallet at some point between a series of meetings and a brief trip home. When I couldn't find it later on, I figured I'd misplaced it in my car or house, and it would turn up soon. With three kids, it's easy to leave something home, and there have been many days where I've left a wallet, cell phone or briefcase at home in the frantic daily rush to get out the door. So I wasn't actually that worried.
But that afternoon, I retrieved a voicemail from a few hours earlier from a stranger named Mike. He said he had my wallet, worked in Old Town Pasadena, and I should call him. He mentioned nothing about what was in the wallet, so I was jolted from my complacency, and assumed the worst. And, frankly, deserved it. I hadn't merely left home with my wallet on my nighstand, I'd left it in the middle of a public street! What idiot leaves a wallet in the street with over $100 cash, credit cards, driver's license, and an endorsed check for $14,000? To make matters worse, I couldn't make out Mike's cell phone number on the voicemail.
While I was sweating the alternatives, a woman named Jessica called, saying she had the wallet, with cash and a check in it, and I should come pick it up at Le Pain Quotidien in Old Town. Finally, the world got smaller!
I quickly hustled over there, and Jessica handed me my wallet. She then introduced me to Mike, who was busily sweeping the floors. Mike took a break to talk to me. He said he was walking to work when he saw my wallet lying in the street, near Madison & Walnut (which is nearly a mile from Le Pain Quotidien). I must have dropped it getting into or out of my car near a client's office. Although it was a hot day and he risked being late to work, he knocked on all doors of the nearest small office complex, to see if the owner of the wallet worked there. He apologized for not reaching me sooner (!) but explained he didn't want to be late to work. He Googled me, using my driver's license, then called my office.
As for the wallet, all $100+ cash was still there, as was that $14,000 check, which a less honest person could have cashed. I thanked Mike profusely and offered him money, which he turned down, saying, "I just hope someone does the same for me." He finally agreed to take a small amount when I told him, "give it to someone who needs it."
If you find yourself at Le Pain Quotidien in Pasadena, tip well. And consider doing something nice for a total stranger. If each person passes this goodwill forward, soon someone will "do the same" for Mike.