On Sunday morning, after we brought two truckloads of merchandise to the Western Fair Agriplex for the Forest City Flea, we called our pal Heykel to see if he was up for an early breakfast. We made our way into Wortley Village where Heykel lives and operates I Am Who I Am personal training studio and lives with his adorable dogs L’il T and Tyrone.
As we visited out front and Heykel arranged his patio chairs and table (he likes to work outside amid the bustle of the village) the dogs sniffed around for someplace to pee. Heykel went around the corner to hurry them along and yelled, “What the HELL?” A leather wallet was on the ground and ID strewn all over. It was obvious what had happened. Someone stole a wallet and discarded everything but the cash. We picked it all up and I nearly salivated at the thought of finding the wallet’s owner. Derek and Heykel both know I love research with a challenge, so they handed me the papers and all through breakfast, I got to work.
The old, falling-apart wallet contained a driver’s license, insurance slips, an OHIP card (the old red and white one), a VISA debit and other cards for luxury car dealers and things that didn’t seem to offer a lot of clues. He didn’t live in our city but he was born in a town nearby. I started with social media. This man either didn’t have accounts on any of the typical websites or they weren’t public. I tried his address including reverse look-ups: no dice. One insurance slip also had the name of a woman on it. She owns a design firm and after a bit of poking around I discovered an old address online with both of their names on it. They used to be a couple, I decided. His Costco card gave a different business name but it didn’t have a web presence. His fishing license, boating license and a Canadian Tire receipt were useless. I put his name out on Twitter and Facebook and called the “lost or stolen” number on his VISA debit card.
Not only did I force the cancellation of the card by making that call (oops!) I also found out how little they want to help a customer. The woman did agree to put my name and number in the system in case he called about his card but, I reasoned, I have the card and it’s cancelled so why would he call? He’d just go to his branch and get another one. She gave me the equivalent of a shrug over the phone.
People on Twitter and Facebook weighed in with their ideas. “Give it to the police!” That’s what I was trying to avoid. If he’s from out of town and still in town, I have a better chance of finding him and if I don’t, I can just put the wallet in the mail. There’s no need to bring paperwork into it. “There’s a family in his hometown that owns a big store!” I called the store but the kid who answered said no owners would be in and she didn’t know enough about the family to know if he was related. Fair enough. I put the wallet in my purse and we went on with our day; Derek cutting and sanding a beautiful piece of live edge wood and me, painting the metal supports for old sewing machines. When they’re done, they’ll get paired up and sold.
A couple of hours later, Heykel called. The owner of the wallet was with him and he wondered if they could come by? Of course they could! Before the noon hour was over we were shaking the hand and accepting the thanks of the guy whose ID I’d been carrying around all morning. And social media had nothing to do with the reunion. The guy was walking down the street while Heykel pecked away on his laptop outside. Heykel looked up and recognized him from his license photo. Good old-fashioned neighbourly behavior beat the reaches of social media.
As we spoke, I was acutely aware that I knew a lot about Wallet Man, and it might seem a little creepy. After all, I’d spent quite a bit of time researching him from his own, personal documents. He mentioned his ex-wife and I held back from saying “OH, the designer!!” I asked if he was related to the store-owning family and he replied, “No, but I was born there!” “I know”, I said with a smile and he laughed.
The thief apparently got his Mastercard but there was no cash in the wallet. Its owner appreciated being saved the hassle of getting all new ID, especially his red and white Health Card. He’s determined not to get the “new” photo card that the government keeps claiming it’s cracking down on. Another shake of hands and off he went. Even though my efforts weren’t the reason for a successful outcome, I don’t think it was wasted time. It’s like a long-weekend fishing trip in good weather. It’s not about what you catch, it’s how much you enjoyed your time on the water.
On Fridays I run a Really Late Review in this space. Please send me your review of any movie, TV show, music, podcast, book – as long as it’s not brand new – to firstname.lastname@example.org.