The week started out really well.
Monday was a holiday and my wife, Gimalle, and I spent the day just enjoying a rare day off together.
We went for a long walk, a leisurely lunch and enjoyed a generally relaxing time.
I spent a small part of the day preparing for an important presentation I was to make the next day.
The presentation was to the senior management of the new client company and I was going to propose a long-term, intense course of action that in my heart I believe will be of enormous benefit to their organization. The reward to me will be to engage in doing work I truly enjoy.
I felt strong, confident and happy as I entered their newly renovated, beautifully appointed boardroom and took off my jacket to place it on the back of a chair.
The jacket felt lighter than usual and I gingerly placed a hand in each pocket in search of my wallet.
It wasn’t there.
I had stopped at a 7/11 to make a quick purchase.
I can remember taking my wallet out of my pocket, paying the clerk and I thought I had placed it back in the inside pocket of my suit jacket.
Part of me wanted to rush out to my car, race back to the store in search of my wallet and part of me knew that I needed to present my business case in as calm and professional a manner as possible.
The meeting lasted almost 3 hours and came to very satisfactory conclusion.
I may have driven a bit faster than the law permits as I made my way back to the 7/11. I was hoping against hope that I had left my wallet on the counter and the clerk would be holding it for me.
When I spoke to the lady in the store she was unaware of any wallet being left on the counter and told me she would check the store video camera and get back to me.
It was indeed an interesting situation to be in. I was scheduled to fly to Vancouver on Friday for the weekend and was now sans credit cards, driver’s license, bank cards and every other thing that we stuff into our wallets and carry around with us at all times.
And yet I felt strangely calm. We have often discussed what I believe to be one of life’s most endearing truths; every experience and event in our lives has only the meaning we place upon it.
I examined my choices which for a few moments ranged from complete freak out to melt down before that soothing voice in my head reminded me of my favourite saying in the world; “It is what it is.”
And indeed it was what it was. My wallet was gone and I had 30 minutes to return to my office to meet a client for a scheduled two-hour meeting which meant it would be nearly 4 o’clock before I could even begin to take any action towards resolving my newfound dilemma.
I hastily conceived a plan. I raced home – again I think I might have slightly exceeded the speed limit – grabbed my passport and went back to the office.
I spent two delightful hours with my client and then went to the bank where I found out that one can indeed replace bank cards by presenting a current passport and, as the lady explained to me, answering a few questions.
She directed me to one of her coworkers who examined my passport photo and decided, after much deliberation, I was that guy.
I was then required to answer a series of skill testing questions. Fortunately the topic of the questions was one with which I have some familiarity – me.
I passed with flying colours despite faltering on a few of the more difficult questions.
With new bank cards in my possession and cash in hand, I raced to the office of AMA where a very helpful lady completed all the requisite paperwork necessary for me to get a temporary driver’s license.
I then went back to my office remembering that I should call the credit card companies and let them know of my carelessness.
While driving back to my office the lady from 7/11 called to tell me that she had reviewed the video and informed me I had placed the wallet back in my pocket.
I remembered walking out of the store and stopping to give some change to a hapless person and it seemed to me that somewhere between the door of the store, stopping for a brief interaction and getting back into my car my wallet must have fallen out of my pocket.
Back at the office I canceled all my credit cards and explained to each issuer that there was some urgency in getting replacement cards as I was going out of town on Friday. In each case I was told they would expedite delivery of a new card but that their expedited service took between two and three days and while they could all guarantee I would have cards in my position by Friday, Thursday was a vague possibility.
It is what it is so I made plans for a credit card free trip and went home quite impressed by the fact that I had remained calm and lost neither my temper nor my mind.
On Wednesday morning I received a voicemail on my cell. The message was from a lady in an optical store where I have made many purchases over the years. The message said that she had received a call from a man who identified himself as a bottle-picker and that he’d found my wallet in a dumpster.
Her business card had been inside my wallet and would she please give him my cell number.
She declined, but obtained his cell number and included it in her voicemail.
I called the number and it turned out that this was the man I had given a few dollars to as I left the store the previous day.
He told me he had found my wallet in a dumpster several blocks from the store and that upon opening it, and looking at my driver’s license he recognized me and felt an obligation to return the wallet to me.
The skeptic inside me told me that he was probably the person who had found my wallet outside the store.
He asked me if I could meet him within 30 minutes as he was hoping to land a day-labour job later in the morning and that he desperately needed that job to earn $100 to buy groceries for himself and his girlfriend.
I agreed to meet him back at the store and when he arrived he handed me my wallet and then said he needed to get going as he really needed that job.
I gave him $100 and he looked at me and, with tears streaming down his cheeks, said thank you and walked away.
As I got into my car I realized it really didn’t matter if he was indeed the person who had found my wallet and had taken the few dollars that had been inside of it. If, in fact, that he was that person, he clearly needed that money far more than I did.
He didn’t have to call me to return the wallet and at no point did he ask me for anything.
I know nothing of this man nor his background but there was a time in my life, more than 20 years ago when due to a respiratory illness I was unable to work and I too lived on the streets for several months.
Fortunately I have never been much of a drinker and have never experimented with any drugs and so I did not spiral down into the depths of hell where many of these folks end up.
Even then I had a far greater awareness of my choices than most of these folks have and I am convinced that experience helped shape me into becoming who I am today.
Before he left I did offer to try help him find a job and have made several attempts – so far unsuccessful – to do so.
My spirits have been lifted enormously not by getting my wallet back, but by meeting a person whose life is very obviously extremely difficult and yet who found it in himself to do the right thing with no expectation of reward.
And then Thursday arrived. I was in my office when shortly after 10 o’clock my phone rang and the call was from a lady at a local branch of the bank calling to tell me that my credit card had been delivered to the branch and when would I be able to pick it up?
I felt great.
No sooner had I left the bank than my phone rang again. This time it was the concierge from the condo building where I live.
We’ve had a spate of attempted break-ins – and one successful one – with people entering our parkade and stealing property from our residents.
We have very extensive and elaborate security systems and the call was to tell me that our system had worked and he was observing a person who had illegally entered our premise and was plying his trade by attempting to enter storage rooms and checking car door handles hoping to find an unlocked vehicle.
The police had been called and were on route.
I’m not sure but again I think I may have again driven faster than allowed and I got home just in time to see a familiar face – one I’d seen several times in our surveillance videos – being led off to a police car in handcuffs.
I felt great.
Yesterday I flew to Vancouver and I spent an enchanting day with family members.
My purpose for the trip was to help celebrate my sister’s birthday. Her kids have arranged a dinner party for this evening and I’m looking forward to a fun, laugh-filled evening.
That was my week.
How was yours?
Till we read again.