Thursday, March 15, 2007

Drop-in company

My doorbell rang shortly after I got home from work today. Drop-in company at my house is often bad news: encyclopedia salesmen, Jehovah's witnesses, some guy I don't want to see, or the girlfriend I didn't know he had.

Hence, my response to an unexpected doorbell is to freeze. Right in my tracks. Then I carefully skate in my socks to the front door, thus eliminating the sound of footsteps and possibly alerting the bell-ringer that I'm home. I know it's crazy. But a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

So, I peered out to see a petite woman with short hair. I didn't know her, I didn't think, but peepholes distort the peep-ee. I risked it, and answered.

"Is John here?" I told her I was sorry, she had the wrong place. But Oh! Wait. Brian's friend, John, lived here for a few months last summer. Is she looking for John H?

Yes, she was. A good samaritan, she'd found his wallet, and my address was still on his driver's license. I told her I'd make sure it was returned to him, and thanked her profusely.

But wait. She had more to say.

"You need to tell this kid to clean out his wallet, and leave most of that stuff at home," she said. "I used to be quite the thief, and I could have taken over his identity in a heartbeat." That was a bit surprising. Ok, I told her, I'd tell John to be more careful, and store his important documents elsewhere. "Tell him to leave his social security card at home!" she insisted, "I was a thief! I could have taken him. But I didn't. It's all there, it's all there."

You know, this is all of 90 seconds worth of conversation, and you don't have time to process things. "Thank you, thank you so much" was all I thought to tell her.

It was only after she left, and after I'd arranged to have John's wallet returned to him that the implications of so many circumstances set in. This was clearly a woman that had, at one time in her life, struggled with doing the right thing. How long ago? For some reason, I imagined it recently; her declaration of returning the wallet intact was so proud and insistent.

Do over! I want a "do over" with the wallet return.

If I had the chance, I'd tell her THANK YOU. Not only did you do a nice thing, but you did a really nice thing for a really nice kid, one who really couldn't afford the havoc you could have wrought, if you'd decided to. His parents moved recently, and he's stuck it out here. He's 19, and works full-time, 12-hour, midnight shifts, saving money to get himself back in school.

He's smart as hell, and is just as endearingly goofy. "My mom says I'd lose my head if it weren't attached," he told me. That's the God's-honest truth. If you call his cell phone number, the message you get is as such:
"This is John. I ran over my cell phone with my car, so if you want to reach me, you'll have to come to my apartment and bang on the window."
If I got my do over, I'd like to tell the woman that came to my door today, about the life she didn't wreck, when she chose to return the wallet, intact. Not only did she do the right thing, but she didn't do the wrong thing. Yes, if she struggled with it in her past, I think she gets double-kudos for it now.

I, for one, am damned proud of her, and glad I answered the door to her.

Whoever she is.


  1. I'm imagining you finishing this post and then discovering that she stole your car.

    That was a beautiful read. Thanks for sharing.

  2. ChezBez: Now THAT made me laugh out loud. I'll worry all day now, that my place will be empty when I get home!

  3. Anonymous11:18 AM

    GREAT story!!
    Makes me wanna buy the world a Coke :o)
    Miss ya

  4. I love it: "I used to be a thief". I wonder if she puts that on her résumé too. What luck she was honest though - that could easily have gone the other way. What a lovely way to start the weekend!

  5. Zia: I'm in!

    Sveny: Yes, you appreciate not being robbed a bit more, once you find out you really haven't been!

  6. "but peepholes distort the peep-ee."

    I've never looked at my peepee through a peephole. ;)


  7. Great post. Very nicely written. I hope that lady continues to do the right things.

  8. Cool. I love happy endings.


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