A.C. Snow

Snow: Wallet’s contents are passports for life

My wife came in from running errands, including a stop at the dry cleaners.

She said that as she was driving away, she spotted a wallet lying on the pavement nearby. She took it inside to the manager who, after checking the identification, said the owner had been in only a day or two before.

“How much money was in it?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I never looked,” she replied.

“You sure wouldn’t make it as a newspaper reporter,” I chided.

“Well, I didn’t figure that how much money the wallet contained was any of my business,” she concluded. I told her that her conduct was very abnormal.

“But you’re entitled to imagine how much pleasure the owner will experience upon learning that his or her wallet that was lost has been found,” I added.

My daughter, visiting her in-laws in Sharon, Conn., once found a wallet by the side of the road as she was taking her morning walk. It contained $1,200.

The owner was notified and came right over to claim the wallet and cash. She murmured a polite, “Thank you,” and drove away.

The recovery of money is not the only or perhaps even the primary reason to celebrate the return of a lost wallet. Consider a typical wallet’s other contents, which, in effect, are the owner’s passports for daily living.

Let’s consider the contents of my own wallet:

Social Security card, driver’s license, voter registration, two library cards, one pharmacy and three supermarket discount cards, two supplement health insurance cards, my N&O ID, prescription drugs insurance card, AAA and ARP cards, one bank ID card, Costco and UNC alumni membership cards, and a how-to-administer-CPR card.

The wallet also contains a gallery of 10 photos, including those of my wife, daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren.

The portable album includes a faded photo of me and my dog Shep when I was 15. Another is of me, with a crewcut, when I was city editor of the Raleigh Times in the 1960s.

A favorite snapshot shows me, dressed in suit and tie, astride a motorcycle. That one would startle anyone who knows me.

I’ve never ridden a motorcycle and don’t intend to. Years ago, my friend Steve Stroud occasionally stopped by the house on his motorcycle and tried to talk me into taking a spin. I always refused, explaining facetiously that the wind would mess up my hairdo (then a crewcut).

The motorcycle photo was taken by a cycle enthusiast who was the program chairman of a Nashville civic club for whom I had just made a talk.

Yep, there are two things I never do: ride motorcycles and jump out of airplanes. So if you’re addicted to either pastime, please don’t ask me to accompany you.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that once, when the circus came to town, I reluctantly rode an elephant up Hillsborough Street to the fairgrounds. Add riding elephants to the list of things I don’t do.

But back to wallets.

I wouldn’t dare conjecture how many items might be found in the average woman’s purse.

I can’t count the times when, especially at a grocery store, I have shifted impatiently from foot to foot while some good woman in front of me fishes around in her handbag trying to locate her wallet, checkbook or loose change. Of course, I’ve also been guilty of holding up the line while looking for change in my own pants pocket.

Yes, great gratitude is in order if someone finds and restores your lost wallet to you.

When you think about all the red tape and bureaucratic grief involved in replacing all those cards or how you would miss those precious family snapshots, you should fling yourself at the finder’s feet and grovel in gratitude, no matter how much money the wallet contained.