Walking through Bates College with my dog over the past 11 years I have picked up 4 wallets, a ski pass, cash and lots of dog poop. I throw away the poop, keep most of the cash, but return everything else of value I find. Believe it or not, on occasion I have witnessed people losing money, including a couple of years ago. I was right behind a kid coming from the Commons when he pulled out his phone and a $10 bill floated to the ground as he continued on. I yelled, but his music must have been cranking and he couldn’t hear so I picked it up and tapped him on his shoulder. I scared the living daylights out of him. Wish I had it on video.Last month I found a wallet in the quad and walked it 100 yards over to the security office and dropped it off. I didn’t know how long it would take to locate him, so I looked up Geoffrey **** on Facebook, and found a profile of a Bates student who looked just like the ID. I messaged him. Within seconds, I got back: “I was just tearing through my room! Thank you very much! Good karma always comes around.”
Today, I went to the bank and karma pinched me back, in the cheek. Just like the pinch you get from your grandmother when you were young. Nice, but embarrassing as hell.
I was on cloud 9 as we got a check this afternoon for a couple hundred extra bucks that we were not expecting. My son Chris has been so patient about not getting his broken phone fixed and now we could. The day was looking up and it was sunny and warm out. After cashing the check and getting a bank check for rent, I stopped at the vestibule across from the ATM in the lobby of the bank. I set down my phone, wallet and other papers I had with me. I put the rent into an envelope and wrote the name of my landlord, the absolute best landlord I have ever had, George Greenwood is one of the most generous and kind guys I know.
As I drove out and stopped at the traffic light, I remembered I had filled out the insurance form for Chris’ phone and all I had to do was plug-in my credit card numbers and it would be on its way. I looked on my front seat where all my papers, enveolopoe, phone and wallet were and had that “oh shit moment.” That feeling. The second you realize……like a big rollercoaster drop, a ticklebump….heart palpitation and a sinking feeling in your stomach: I lost my wallet.
I immediately pulled over in the Hannaford parking lot and rifled through my car. Panic begins to sink in. Did I drop it in the parking lot? I think back to the last time I knew I had it. Talking to Cindy at the teller station when I stuffed the $20 bill I got back with the bank check.
It was no more than 5 minutes since I left. I must have left it at the counter and Cindy will have it, I thought. How embarrassing, but if there was anywhere in the world you would want to forget your wallet, the bank’s the place. I’ll take some ribbing and think about telling my wife about it.
I parked in the same spot and wondered if I had dropped it. Fat chance I would have and not noticed my George Costanza wallet go tumbling. Best case scenario was I had left it on the counter across from the ATM. I would grab it, slink out, and nobody would know of my bonehead move. Could I be that lucky!
Of course not. It wasn’t there, nor did Cindy have it.
I walked back to my car and tore it apart. Nope. Not there. Several bank employees showed genuine concern and resolve. They jumped into action. A quick call to the security division and they were all over it.
As I sat in one of the cubicles waiting, I began to look around. It had only been a few minutes since I left, so my wallet could have been in the pocket of somebody within a few feet of me. At one point I caught myself going down the road of suspecting everyone. Anger surfaced. Hair on the back of my neck standing on end. Hate. More anger. I was suspicious of everyone. It could be any one of them. But probably not. Stop thinking evil thoughts, I told myself.
I still had an uneasiness. As I looked around with a different perspective, instead of looking for the one who did steal my wallet, I began ruling everyone out. But the older, weathered woman , sitting 2 feet from me, in another managers office with just a glass wall between us was screaming guilty. I could sense uneasiness about her…..something…..suspicious???? It was probably nothing, my mind going off again. After all, who doesn’t look uneasy when they are in a bank asking for money they don’t have, but promise to pay it back — you hope. Been there, done that.
But somebody had to have taken it. Or was I just a bonehead and lost it somehow.
No sooner had the old woman walked out the door, security called. I listened to the manager talking and watched her click and begin to squint. At that point where I figured she was looking at the video, or a photo, I made a decision. I would sneak a peek at the monitor. If I asked, I know they could not legally show me the photo. So I didn’t ask . I just stood up and bent over and had a sneak a peek. Sure enough, it was the old woman sitting not 2 feet away 2 minutes ago. In the photo, the split second I glanced at it before she turned the monitor away, I noticed my suspect was talking to a young man.
The bank manager called the police. Security video confirmed it had been taken. But was it technically stolen? As we waited for police to arrive, my phone rang. It was the Sun Journal. Shit. My shift just started and while I didn’t have anything scheduled at the moment, I had seen a cruiser speed past a few minutes ago Code3. Was there breaking news I had to go cover?
“Did you lose your wallet?” said my sister on the other end of the phone. Sarah, a customer service rep at the Sun Journal was calling. My immediate thought was that everyone in the newsroom knew I lost my wallet and the police were coming to file a report. I was thinking I was the laughing-stock of the newsroom as it filtered over to her. I figured they must have heard the call for the cops to respond to the bank for a Russ Dillingham who got his wallet stolen at the bank. Front page headlines flashed through my mind. “Knucklehead gets wallet stolen at bank.”
“What?” my sister said. “Somebody just dropped your wallet off at the front counter. They said it was found at the Hannaford ATM in Auburn.”
That’s about 100 yards from the bank.
Auburn police showed up moments later and I told Officer Laliberte that this will probably be the easiest bank robbery ever solved. And I thought to myself, and one for the dumb criminals episodes on TV. Who would take a wallet sitting in a bank, across from the ATM with not only the camera from the ATM looking directly at where the wallet was, but another conspicuous one on the ceiling above. It had to be someone who really needed the money, desperate and not very smart. Or a combination.
I feel bad for the woman or guy she was with who took it. They had to have known there was a chance of their actions being filmed. But perhaps they thought they would get lucky and the cameras wouldn’t be working. Or the guy who lost the wallet wouldn’t figure he lost it until later and not know it was at the bank where he lost it.
Forget the moral, ethical question. What is the percentage of people who would return a lost wallet? Does it depend on where you found it. Or how much cash was in it. Do you take the cash and drop the wallet someplace where somebody else would find it, like they did? Or take the cash and bury it, or toss it in the garbage?
When I returned this last wallet I found at Bates recently I had opened it up to see who was the owner. I noticed there was no cash. I didn’t look at cards or secret spots where he might have tucked some away, I just noticed there was none in the main compartment. Did somebody steal it and drop it in the quad after taking the cash? Does he think I found it and took the cash and returned it……or did it just fall out of his pocket and there was none in the first place. That thought crossed my mind later in the day and I contemplated messaging him to inquire. I decided it was better not to know. If he said there was no cash in it, my sub-conscience would be clear. But if he said there was money in it when he lost it, how much time would I waste thinking about what he was thinking about me. Feeling bad that he thought it was me who took it. Should I have even contacted him. Now he knows who I am. Too much to contemplate. Better to let a good deed go unturned……or something like that. His reply about karma resonated. Even if he thought I stole the cash, the Gods know better and my conscience is clear.
So I sit here trying to figure what exactly happened. Officer Laliberte said to call in the morning and he would have the name of the “guy”. Did he just pocket the cash and quickly drop it off where it could be found because they felt guilty and somebody else took the cash and turned it in. Either way, he, or she, deserves some credit for caring enough to try to make sure I got the wallet back.
They could have dumped it in a trash can, and I would never know. They were doing me a favor and returning the important things I had in it.
The credit cards and other items were all put back in the wrong places, so they definitely combed through my wallet. Could they have written down the credit card numbers and start going online and buying stuff. I don’t think so. And if so, they won’t get much. And there were a couple of gift cards still there. If they were going to take more than just the cash, they would certainly scoffed untraceable gift cards.
I have a gut feeling they are hoping I would get my wallet back and be happy about it, not file a police report and they would pocket the cash and be done with it. That certainly is not the case. The question is how far do I want to take it. I think.
And talk about ironic. I found a wallet last month at the drive through ATM just 50 feet from where I left mine today. That one had cash in it. I dropped it off at APD. More good mojo for me.
There is a whole lot more to that story if you care to ask next time you see me.
When I left the bank to come to work tonight, I told Officer Laliberte I wanted to talk to the person who they determined stole my wallet. I am torn. Do I drop any charges because it was my fault that I left the wallet in the first place and it was a temptation they could not pass up. Or do I press charges if that is even possible. I got a gift today, should I return the good will. Or should I make sure they are punished for doing it, especially for being so dumb to do it
I received several gifts today, unexpected ones that should not have happened, yet made a big difference in my life. I also lost and got my wallet back and learned a big lesson from this ordeal. Should I return the good will. Put more good karma in the bank, or should I make sure they are punished for being dishonest and dumb.
I think I’ll go home, kiss my wife, hug my only son left at home, scratch my dog’s belly, have a beer and think about it. Well….probably leave out hugging my son. Knuckles or high-five goes over a little better with a 16 year old.