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  • Carroll Devine

Unto Others

A recent trip to a department store to return a skirt brought an unexpected gift.

I had left the store in a hurry to finish my errands in another one when my cell phone rang. Not recognizing the caller’s number, I hesitated to answer it because I’ve gotten too many robotic sales or phishing calls of late, but something prompted me to answer anyway.

“My name is Susan,” she said. “Is this Carroll?”

“Yes.” I waited for the pitch, but none came.

She told me she had found my wallet, which I wasn’t even aware I had lost, in the ladies department in the store I had just left. “The manager put it in the safe,” she said, “but when you go back, you can ask any cashier to page her, and she’ll get it for you.”

After thanking Susan, I rushed back to the store. Within minutes the manager smilingly handed me my wallet, which of course contained what could be a tidy bundle of information for an identity thief.

They were able to contact me because I had my business card in the wallet, the manager said. I remarked that I appreciated the honesty of the store’s employees, but when she told me that it hadn’t been an employee but a customer, I was even more impressed.

At home later, after finishing a phone call with a friend, I must have pocket-dialed a number. “Hello, hello,” the voice on the other end said. “Hello, hello,” I said, thinking someone had called me. Then it registered.

It was Susan, of the last number in my recent calls list, which I had believed to be a store number. “Your wallet was sitting on the check-out counter, so I gave it to the cashier, but she just slipped it into a drawer and said she’d have the manager put it into the store safe. She said it was store policy.”

But Susan strongly objected, found the manager, and urged her to open the wallet to determine the owner before putting it in the safe, then called me.

If my business card hadn’t been in the wallet, Susan said, she would have taken a photo of my license, then come to my home to let me know where my wallet was. When I thanked her profusely and said how grateful I was, she said simply, “Well, I would just hope someone would do the same for me.”

That a woman who didn’t even know me but who was honest and would have the concern and take the trouble to see that my wallet was returned to me raised my spirits and boosted my faith in the good in people.

You couldn’t find a more succinct moral directive than the time tested Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

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