Editor’s Note: We’re happy to report that former weekly columnist Pat Haley has submitted the first of his “periodic” columns — which we hope he will write periodically at the least.
Grocery shopping has never been one of my favorite pastimes. A routine trip to Kroger sometimes takes us an hour or more because we often run into friends and neighbors who want to chat, and we always take time to talk.
Last Monday, Brenda and I made one of our trips to Kroger to pick up a few items. I tend to get what I need quickly while my wife is, shall we say, a more deliberate shopper.
After about 40 minutes of comparison shopping, I decided to seek out a place to sit down to wait for Brenda to finish shopping.
Although my favorite spot to sit is outside in one the swings or lawn chairs, there wasn’t any of those around with it being a cold day of winter, so I decided to take my place inside on the long bench across from the shopping carts. Before long several people had stopped to say “hello” and I was enjoying the social interaction.
I happened to be wearing a baggy set of sweatpants, since Brenda and I had exercised earlier in the day. When Brenda finished shopping, I left my cozy spot and we headed home with our groceries.
Once home, I emptied my pockets only to discover my wallet was missing from my pants pocket. I searched the car and the garage floor, but no wallet.
As with most people, my wallet held much of my vital information — my driver’s license, medical cards, library card, CCW ID, and an irreplaceable picture of our grandson, Jack.
Immediately, I jumped back into the car and returned to Kroger, hoping for a miracle that someone might have found my wallet and turned it in.
Hurriedly, I arrived at the Service Desk and identified myself. “Did someone happen to turn in a brown wallet?” I asked.
“Let me check,” the polite lady behind the counter answered as she entered a back room. Returning, she said smiling, “Here is your wallet, sir. Someone brought it to the desk and turned it in earlier.”
“Did the person happen to leave their name or phone number?” I asked. The lady replied, they did not. I was disappointed, as I so much wanted to thank whoever returned my wallet.
Later that evening, I was doing a presentation for the Genealogical Society at the Clinton County History Center about the history of St. Columbkille Catholic Church.
I began my presentation by remarking how glad I was to be talking about the church and religion that evening. Recounting the story about having lost my wallet earlier that day, and how a good Samaritan had found it and turned it into the Service Desk. I spoke how the good deed had reaffirmed my faith in mankind, and we that must remember that most people are honest.
Glancing out over the crowd, I noticed an old friend, Rosemary Chandler. She had a look of amazement on her face as she was looking down at her cell phone.
After I had finished my presentation, Rosemary approached the podium and said she had something she wanted to show me. “When you were talking about the lost wallet, I remember reading something earlier in the day on Clinton County Exposed from a person who found a wallet at Kroger and had turned it in to the Service Desk,” she said.
I quickly read the post from Evonne Spendlove, who said she had found a wallet. The next day, I was able to contact Ms. Spendlove. I told her it was my wallet she found, and how much I appreciated her turning it in.
“You are very welcome. It was the right thing to do. I consider myself a moral person and would want another to do the same thing for me,” she replied. “It actually matters that people have ethics, and we all like to think of ourselves as good human beings.”
It was obvious after a few minutes of conversation with Evonne that she cared deeply about the welfare of others and returning the wallet and eventually finding its owner gave her a sense of joy.
“Where did you lose the wallet?” she asked curiously.
“I think it slid out of my pocket when I was sitting on the bench at Kroger’s,” I replied. “Did you find it underneath the bench?”
“Evonne paused for a moment and said, “No, it was on a shelf inside the ladies’ restroom.”
Someone else must have found the wallet and took it into the bathroom and discarded it for someone else to find.
Thankfully, it fell into the compassionate hands of an honest person.
I know our small town is well-known for its honesty and integrity, but it is good to be reminded from time-to-time there are still today many more good people in the world than there are bad.
Later that evening, I was going through my wallet and found a tiny Bible verse I keep tucked away inside.
“Love your neighbor as yourself,” Saint Luke told us. “Those who can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.”
We reap what we sow. Indeed, we do.
Pat Haley is a former Clinton County Commissioner and former Clinton County Sheriff, and a Port William native.