The brown haired checker had already scanned half the contents of my grocery cart, including the champagne meant to be opened six days later, when I noticed my wallet was missing. To say wallet is a bit of a stretch. Coin purse might be more appropriate to describe the cloth stegosaurus-shaped zippered pouch. My real wallet had been stolen last year in sleepy Sierra Madre while I picked up my son from preschool. The blue ice of the shattered passenger window dusted the front seat where my purse rested not ten minutes prior. The stegosaurus pouch functioned as a wallet as I never bothered to acquire another one.
I informed Brian, his name tag read, of the situation. His eyes widened. I'm sure he's heard it all and more. I ran outside, searched my car, came back empty. Scrounging through my bag in hopes to find it hidden in the seams, I came up with a check to pay for my bubbly.
I retraced my steps. Back by the train station, scanning for an unlikely money pouch on the ground. Back in the bakery that sells delicious croissants. No, my dear, no wallet.
Back on the street. My chest starts to tighten, I accept that the zippered pouch containing money, driver's license, bank card and other magnetized plastic cards that grant access to money are gone. I call Eric and allow myself a brief cry. Then almost as quickly as the wave of dread crashed over me, I stood in the shallow calm eddies left in its wake. I thought of the Stoic diagram and realized the situation was beyond my control. I thought about the hands that would pick up the cloth stegosaurus and wished that the person who found it could really use it.
I set back for home to put away groceries and deal with the consequences of losing such a small pouch containing such complicated items. In my mind I run through the procedures: cancel bank & credit cards, set the wheels in motion for obtaining a new driver's license, make dinner.
Empty bellies take priority. As onions sizzle in a large pot, I notice a phone message. I listen, "Julia, my name's D.J. I think I have something you might be missing. You really need to call me back."
Yes, a kind woman named D.J. picked up my stegosaurus, found my business card inside and called me. Within the hour, I stood outside her dusty green door. "And here you are, Julia," D.J. said bright brown eyes taking me in, "I thought of you, looking at your picture."
I told her how I thought of the hands picking up my wallet and the blessing I sent to those hands. I didn't expect to get the wallet back. "I knew it was the right thing to do," she said. I reached into my wallet. I had an unusually large amount of money in it (for me) and gave her $80. She said, you don't have to do this. I know, I said, I want to do it. I also asked if maybe we might be able to meet up for a walk around the neighborhood sometime.