“Not good” is never what you want to hear when you’ve just asked your 92-year-old mother how she’s doing.
But this wasn’t an “Oh, I’m fading…,” not good. This was more of a frantic, “OMG!,“ not good.
It turned out my father had lost some money. Not lost as in at the casino or even on the stock market, but lost, as in somewhere in their apartment or walking home from the bank.
After the usual inane questions like, “Has he checked his pockets?” I finally asked, “How much are we talking about?”
“$1,000 — cash,” was the answer. Okay, I get the OMG! tone.
I won’t go into why my dad took out $1,000 cash — 10 $100 bills to be precise. There was a reason, not a great one given the risks, but it still had a certain logic.
Anyway, I went over to their place and we started rummaging around, checking pockets and purses, opening and shutting drawers.
Then, we talked about the places they had stopped on their walk home from the bank through Steveston. By this time, it was after 9 p.m., so we couldn’t call the shops, but I went out and walked the route looking left and right scouring the sidewalk for that precious little RBC envelope. Nothing.
The next day, I called all the stores, telling our sad story. I had many sympathetic listeners but no leads. And, really, what was I thinking? Even if someone had wanted to return it, where would they return it to, especially if it was just found on the street?
About an hour after I had called Super Grocer, the pharmacist called back to say, “Well, actually, someone here says that someone came in yesterday and said that someone lost something and ‘if they come in looking for it they can call me.’”
I asked if the person had said if they had found money, but the pharmacist said they didn’t say, she just left her name and number.
I wrote it down thinking, could this really be? I phoned the number. A woman answered and I explained our saga. She asked how much was lost, I told her, and she just said, “Yes, that’s what I have here.”
There was a pause as my inside voice asked, “So, are you actually going to give it to me?”
She then asked where I was and told me where she was.
It turns out she lives just blocks away in a housing co-op, so I went over. She came to the door and simply handed me the envelope. Even then, I wondered if there could be a catch.
It was only when I opened the envelope to give her one of the bills in thanks and saw all the money in there, that I suddenly realized this was for real.
She explained she had noticed the envelope just lying on the sidewalk, outside Super Grocer. My dad had sat on a bench there while my mom went in to get something.
She had also noticed it was from RBC so went there to see if someone had come in looking for it... Incredible.
In the media, we’re often accused of telling too many bad news stories, and fair enough. Much of what’s deemed “news” is about what’s gone wrong. The problem with that is we end up with a skewed perspective.
I do think this woman is exceptional. She could have so easily pocketed the cash. But I also think there are more folks like her than we might imagine, we just don’t hear enough about them.
But now for the kicker.
At first she didn’t want to take the bill I gave her as reward. But I insisted — literally forcing it into her hand. When she finally took it, she said, “Oh, I could donate it to this...”
She went back inside and came out with a notice for a project her church is working on.
As I walked away, I thought about how this woman could have an extra $1,000, or at least $100, in her account right now, but she’s choosing to invest it in another kind of wealth. What an example.