April 5, 2014

Shock, Awe and Delight

It's one of our worst fears. We have nightmares about it. We worry about it constantly, and a lot of our behaviour is devoted to ensuring that it never happens. Have I grabbed your attention yet? Whatever you're thinking of at this very moment is very revealing. Take a moment if necessary.

Your worthlessness
I'm talking about losing your wallet, your purse, your money receptacle. I'm talking about that moment when one of the things we take most for granted - being an active consumer - comes to a dead halt. It happened to me just two days ago.

There I was in the grocery store, a long line of impatient people behind me. The nightmare scene. I was at the cash, dumping out the contents of my backpack to find my wallet. Which was nowhere. Ever notice how it's hard to grasp the absence of something? I went through everything at least three times, just in case. The woman behind me was concerned. "Oh no!" she said, with genuine compassion, "Where did you use it last?"

I knew exactly what had happened. I had stopped a block away from the grocery store to repack my backpack, pushing one bag deeper into its depths and pulling my wallet out so that it would sit on top, for easy access at the cash. I was thinking forward, planning for efficiency. I was also rushing. Haste makes waste. The wallet probably slipped out onto the sidewalk - had I taken a moment to look back, it would have flashed its saucy red leather at me and yelled "Hey! I'm still here!"

Eh bien. I've never been one to mourn lost things. But at the cash, it was a  moment of suspended belief. Had I really been that careless and stupid? I found myself apologizing to the cashier as I returned the bag of food. I apologized to the line of people waiting. And I thanked the concerned woman, who seemed more upset than me.

Leaving the store empty-handed, I did a quick mental tally. There hadn't been much cash in my wallet - maybe $10 or $20. Lots of cards though. It would be easy for some young punk to go on a shopping spree. And with my driver's license, Medicare and debit cards, identity theft might be top-of-mind.

Fortunately, I had my bus pass in one pocket and my house keys in another. I made it home and got on the phone to the bank first. It was late in the day, and I had to sit through a half-hour of being transferred, repeating myself to several people, answering a litany of security questions, losing the connection twice, and blah blah blah. The cats were howling for dinner. I went through my coin stash to scrounge up enough money for cat food, and headed back out the door.

...and then the universe smiled.
There, on the stairs and coming up to the second floor, was an older gentleman. He was a bit scruffy looking, and definitely one of our senior citizens. He had on an old battered hat, a wrinkled pair of work pants, and well-scuffed boots. I smiled at him, he smiled at me. He had stopped to catch his breath. "Are you Lorrie Beauchamp?" he asked. I was nodding yes while processing quickly. How did this man know who I was? I'm not famous yet. Unless...

"Did you find my wallet?" I gasped with disbelief. He grinned, the hero in action, and pulled it out from beneath his jacket. Tada! My little red wallet. He explained that his wife had found it on the sidewalk, and when they saw that I lived nearby, they decided he would come return it to me in person.

I was so grateful and overjoyed that I couldn't stop thanking him. I hopped up and down, gave him a big hug, shook his hand, took the $20 bill from my wallet (it was still there) and gave it to him. He started to protest, and I said - "No! I just wish I could give you more!" I told him that he had restored my faith in humanity. "Vous avez sauvĂ© mes espoirs dans les humaines," I said, which should give my French friends a giggle.

He smiled with all the weariness of one who has seen it all. We walked out into the evening together, my heart bursting with gratitude. Not because of the wallet, but for his enormous gesture of kindness and the generosity of spirit that emanated from him. I kept staring at him as if he were from another planet. Have I really become that cynical? And then my knight in scuffled armour shuffled off into the sunset, making his way back to his wife. Angels among us.

This post is for my mother.
Because she often laments, and rightfully so, that she never hears any good news anymore. So here's a good-news story for you, Mom. And thanks for the reminder, universe. I needed that.


  1. I'm with your Mom. Bad news outweighs the good these day. Your post tipped the scales.

  2. And now do you have to uncancel your credit cards? Or is it too late?


Thank you so much for your comments. With feedback, I hope to make my writing more informative, entertaining, and valuable to my readers.