What would you do if you found money or someone’s debit or credit card on the ground? What would you do if you found a purse or a purchased item in a shopping cart in the parting lot of a store? Would you turn it in, would you use it or spend it?
We turn on the evening news or open a newspaper and see acts of violence, war and politicians yelling across the aisle almost every day. Lately we’ve seen hands in the air, fires blazing and fighting. One thing we haven’t seen enough of is honesty, trust, respect and gratitude to one another.
A week ago I was deep in the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, Girl Scouts and basketball games. I had stories to make for deadline for AdVantage News and was in my usual routine of 100 miles per hour with the pedal to the floor. I stopped by the Wood River Subway to pick up dinner for my kids because I didn’t have time to cook.
During my rush to get out of the door to get back home to bury myself in work, I was a little careless with something very important ... my debit card. I left it behind on the counter while I filled out the little paper for a chance to win a free sandwich; I dropped it on the floor while trying to grab my bags, purse and wrangle the kids to the door. Whatever happened, I was in a rush and careless ... and it was gone! I wouldn’t have noticed it until my planned trip to the grocery store the next evening.
Around noon the following day, I received a call from my bank informing me they had ordered me a new debit card because mine had been reported as lost. I told them they must have made a mistake; mine was in my purse. I ran to check in a panic and my fears were confirmed ... it was gone. The woman at the bank informed me that a Subway employee had just brought my card to my local branch and turned it in. She waited until the end of the business day at Subway for me to return and called the 1-800 number on the back before leaving the store to report it missing. She drove out of her way to return my debit card to the bank branch so it would be safe, even though it had been activated.
I was embarrassed due to the lack of brain activity that I must have had for leaving it behind unsecured, but I was more in shock that not one charge was made, the card was safe and that someone in this world was so honest. Is that sad? Why should I be in shock that someone was so honest with something that didn’t belong to them? I knew I had to do something. After going to the bank to withdraw some money, (because I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that without a card), I took out an extra little amount. I wrote a thank-you note inside of a Christmas card and waited until my kids got out of school for the day. After picking up the kids, I took them with me to the same Subway where I had made my silly mistake and asked the employees at the counter if they were the ones who found the card. Jennifer was in fact busy making sandwiches for customers when she looked up and said, “Hi, that was me,” with a welcoming smile. I politely worked my way past customers in line to stand before her. I couldn’t thank her enough in front of a full line of hungry patrons. I placed my Christmas card on the counter and told her it was for her. As we walked out the door, my 10-year-old daughter asked me why I gave her a Christmas card with money in it. She said, “Momma, do we know her?” I explained to my kids what happened with my debit card and what Jennifer did to protect me. I waited until my kids got out of school so they could see first hand what honesty is about, and that it can be rewarded in many ways. Yes, I gave Jennifer a reward for her actions. It wasn’t much, but it was something I could spare. Jennifer or someone else could have had a very merry Christmas at my expense. I am thankful that I had an honest angel watching my back.
Jennifer told me several days later that she was a victim of identity theft many years ago and that it is a hard and deep hole to climb from. She said she wouldn’t wish that on anyone, so she protected someone else when the occasion came about.
What did I learn? First, be more careful and slow down. Second, there are still good and honest people out there who will do the right thing when they have a chance. Last, to give back when you are fortunate in your mistakes and learn from them. Jennifer saved me, Christmas and my faith in humanity.