On Monday night, I pulled into a gas station to fill my truck up and when I stepped out, on the ground next to the pump, was a wallet. Of course I looked around and I was the only guy at the gas station. I picked up the wallet, opened it up and looked at the drivers license. The license showed a young man, 22 years old, who's address on the license showed he lived in Atascadero, CA which is about 200 miles from where I live.
The next thing (of course) was to see if it had any money in it, to which it did. A lot. Just over $1,000 in it. 10 brand new $100 bills, and some singles. Holy shit, I thought. Am I being punked here? So I went into the gas station and told the attendant what I found, and left my name and phone number, in case he came back. The young kid said "why don't you just leave it here with me?" I replied, "no. I'll handle it, but thanks."
When I got home (about 9 PM) I started looking for this young man. There were some items in the wallet, including a picture of a very young baby girl, but nothing to tip me off as to where he could be. I don't have Facebook or any social media so I asked my daughter (who does) to Facebook this guy and let him know that I found his wallet and want to return it to him. So she did, but she got no reply back.
Tuesday morning, I continued my detective work. The wallet had an Auto Zone card in it as well as a Bank of America card in it. I went to B of A and told them my story. I told them I was looking for an address or contact or anything. They said they couldn't give out personal information. I figured that, but I did ask them to send him an E mail saying his wallet and ATM card were found. They said they would.
I then went to Auto Zone and repeated the process. Same result. No personal info can be given out. Now I'm getting frustrated. So I went to the Upland PD station and of course, they couldn't help me either but did suggest I leave the wallet with them. I said no, mainly because I don't trust people, especially with $1,000 to tempt someone.
Tuesday afternoon, I called my brother in law who works for the LA County Sheriff and told him my story. He ran the kids license and got in contact with Atascadero PD and the kids new address came back to Upland, and we also got a contact phone number. Bingo. Finally. By the time I got the info back, it was late Tuesday night but I called the number anyway. No answer, but I did leave a message.
Wednesday morning, the young man, Jeff, called me. We talked and I explained how I had found his wallet, and for the last 2 1/2 days, I've been trying to track him down. We agreed to meet in a parking lot next to the gas station where I found his wallet. Yesterday afternoon, we met and I returned the wallet, with the $1,000 still in it and proceeded to hear Jeff's story. What a story.
He had originally wanted to be a fire fighter (like yours truly) but he got his girlfriend pregnant and needed steady work and couldn't wait out the long process to be a fire fighter. So they packed their stuff, left Atascadero, and moved south to Upland where he works part time at In-N-Out burger. He then goes to night school, taking diesel mechanic classes, in hopes of being a diesel mechanic. He said that $1,000 was his rent money and it was everything he and his fiancee had in their account. He said when he lost his wallet, they both cried for 2 days. Not only was their rent money gone, but so was what was left over for Christmas present money for their little girl. They didn't know what to do.
I told him the picture of the young girl inspired me. I never had a thought of keeping the wallet. That's not how I am, but I can't speak for others. Needless to say, Jeff was very excited to get his wallet and money back. He said he didn't have any money to give me for a reward but I said I didn't want a reward. I just want you to pay your rent and take care of your family. The young man started crying, saying he can't believe he got his money back and how I am some "angel from God."
I told him we all are Angels from God. Some do the right thing, some don't. Turns out he is a big Notre Dame fan also. The last ironic thing out of this, if you still are reading this, is I informed him that when he graduates from school (in March) let me know because we have a fleet services section in the fire department. They work on all our fire engines and equipment. I made a few calls to some friends, and it appears he may have an opportunity to work for us. He would still have to apply like everyone, but they don't get a lot of applicants for mechanic for some reason. So hopefully that works out for him.
Needless to say, I felt an incredible sense of well being yesterday. After 23 years as a firefighter, I have made a difference in thousands of lives, good and bad. Nothing I've ever done compared to yesterday. Nothing. It was an amazing feeling that I'm still feeling great about. Thought I'd share it with you guys.
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