I was walking with my pal Stephen a few weeks ago. We were both sweating because it was 87 degrees outside. We fantasized about the day when we could once again describe the air as “fresh” and “crisp” instead of “sorta like a wet gym sock.”
“Speaking of gym socks,” Stephen said, “I’ve got tickets to the first Bears home game on the 20th. You wanna go??”
Football is another reason Stephen likes when summer gives way to fall. He was never a sports fan growing up but fell in love with football a few years ago and now he’s really hooked.
Having never set a toe inside Soldier Field (I know — ridiculous!) and also being fond of spending time with Stephen, who is just a cool person, I said yes! I don’t have much time for diversions these days, but how could I say no to a Bears game? My first ever!
It was an incredible experience that I’d like to write about but not in this post. This post is about how I lost my wallet on the way home from the Bears game…and someone found it and returned it to me.
Here’s the thing about going to a big sporting event at Soldier Field: no purses or bags allowed. Well, that’s not entirely true: You are allowed to carry a purse/bag if it is a NFL-sanctioned, clear plastic bag that I’m sure costs $100. The only thing I’m less interested in doing than purchasing a $100 plastic bag is carrying the thing. With these cute shoes?? Are you crazy?? I decided I would leave everything at home and I put my license, debit card, and a $20 bill in this slim little black wallet and put it in my back pocket.
It was so weird to be out in the world with no purse. It almost ruined everything for me. A woman’s purse is her brain and I have lots of things in my purse. Eventually, I relaxed into the experience and watched big, beefy dudes kick a little ball around fake grass and I really enjoyed it. Until I got home last night and realized: no wallet.
Oh, I wept. I wept and gnashed my teeth. How could I have been so dumb? Did it fall out in the stadium? Or in the pedicab on the way back to drop off Stephen? Did it fall out on the street before I went into my building? I was really sunk because in less than 24 hours, I was set to rent a car to drive to Oshkosh to teach and lecture! I would have to go to the DOT and get a new license. Needless to say, I did not sleep well.
This morning, I opened my laptop with a heavy heart to check the hours of the DOT and of course clicked open my email to see if anyone had given me some sort of Lifetime Achievement Award overnight. And there, better than any Lifetime Achievement Award, was an email from Ryan B:
“Hello, Mary: I believe I have your wallet. I found it last night on the sidewalk outside of Shedd Aquarium. Please contact me at 123-456-7890. Thank you, Ryan.”
Ryan and his wife were riding bikes out at the Museum Campus where Soldier Field, the Shedd, the Field, the Planetarium, etc., are located. They spotted a little black square on the sidewalk — amidst a sea of people! — and they picked it up.
I made strange sounds of joy and gratitude. I wept. I called Ryan. I babbled thank you, thank you at him and praised his True Goodness and possibly weirded him out when I said, “Mister, you’d better tuck those angel wings into your jacket before you go to work!” and then he told me he’d give my wallet to his receptionist and I could come by anytime today and get it. His office is downtown; it was a 10 minute bike ride from my Literary Animal class at school. I had my wallet back — debit card, $20 bucks, and license intact — before 1:00 p.m.
When I spoke to Ryan, I asked him if he had any food allergies because I’d really like to give him a treat, a reward for returning my wallet. He protested:
“No, no. No reward needed. What goes around comes around, you know?”
He’s right — but no way was I not gonna do something nice for this guy. Rather than treats, I decided on a Starbucks card. If I had buckets o’ money, I would’ve gone in for $100 and really wowed him; instead, I put $20 on the card, the exact amount I thought I’d lost forever.
Thank you, Ryan. You did a Very Good Thing and I thank you. We all do!