A few years ago, when I came to America for the first time, I went on a driving holiday with my then girlfriend. We went for a couple of days – New York City to Connecticut. It was short trip to look at the autumn leaves.
On the way back we pulled in to a petrol station and filled up the car. I paid, put my wallet on the roof and drove off. I didn’t realise the wallet was missing until the next day when we were back in the city and I was getting ready to go to work. I was devastated. As well as a hundred dollars it also had my temporary green card. There was nothing in there with my address or phone number. The wallet was lost.
A few days later I went to pick up some washing that I had left at a laundrette. The Chinese lady who did the laundry was very excited to see me. Attached to my bag was a phone number. I had to ring it.
On the other end of the line was a guy called Joe. He worked in road construction and drove a steam roller. A couple of days earlier he’d been working on an interstate and had seen something sticking to the big heavy roller at the front of the machine. He stopped and took a look. Attached was my wallet, slightly flattened but otherwise in tact. He looked through it and the only clue he could find to my whereabouts was a laundry ticket. He called the number on the ticket and voila, he’d found me.
I was beyond grateful. I thanked him profusely and told him to take the hundred bucks. I remember what he said “Now David, why would I want to do that?”
“For your time and trouble,” I said. He refused, politely, but my offer seemed to lessen the experience. I’ve felt bad about it ever since.
Last week I left my wallet at Bunkers, a bar in downtown Minneapolis. I woke up at about midday after a big night out and when I finally mustered enough energy to go and do my laundry, I realised I’d lost my wallet . Again.
Eventually I got on the phone and John the barman answered. He had my wallet, it had been put in the office the night before and was safe and sound. I drove downtown, went to the bar, found John and got my wallet back.
Then I was struck by a dilemma. Should I tip John? I mean in America you tip, right? But how much, exactly, do you tip a barman for returning your wallet? Is it a five dollar act of honesty? Is it a fifty dollar act of honesty? I didn’t know.
So I made a decision. I thanked John, told him he was a gentleman and a scholar, thanked him again and left.
I hope he understands how grateful I am for his kindness and honesty and that it’s worth more than money can buy.
Good post David. Things
Good post David. Things always get complicated when money is involved. You would think people like money, but it’s often hard to get people accept a dime. If you’re dating in Australia, do you usually pay drinks, dinner etc for the lady if you’re a man?
Don’t lose your wallet in NY city. Your luck might run out. So I hear. Nice piece
Not sure any more Olavi.
Not sure any more Olavi.
Nice piece, David.
And on the ongoing dialog about money and dating… Several years ago, a friend of mine (journalist, twice my age and candid debauchee) gave me the following advice – “Never sit at a table, if you can’t pay the entire bill.”
The rest is just an eternal chase game (which is for free).
What about Finland?
Irony is what whirls the world around, and this story is full of irony. But the story also imparts something more. It reassures that decency is alive and well in the world.