The Mysterious Wallet

Please to enjoy this very long story which I only meant to write a few paragraphs on :) Everything here is 100% true, and it pretty much has nothing to do with finance – other than involving a wallet.

The Case of The Mysterious Wallet

Three weeks ago I went for one of my daily walks as I usually do in between blogging and my HGTV shows, and as I wrapped around the corner of a somewhat busy street, I started seeing these little scraps of paper randomly thrown about.  Kinda like an ant trail, only a lot bigger, and a lot more noticeable.

At first I tried to ignore them, chalking it all up to some dumb kid who thought it was cool to litter with all his friends, but as the trail grew larger and larger, and my conscience started feeling bad for not being a good neighbor and picking them up, I decided that on my return path back I’d do my good deed for the day and scoop ’em all up.  So I kept walking…

Then, at about 20 feet past all this rubbish, I noticed something brown and squarish smack down in the middle of the road just sitting there.  All pumped up and lifeless.  I tried not to look at it much as my curiosity can get the best of me (and it sure will, as you’re about to find out), but as it focused in the corner of my eye I realized that yes, that bulgy thing out there is indeed someone’s wallet!  Full of stuff that I couldn’t make out at the time, but things I was sure were pretty important.

Two things quickly crossed my mind:

  1. KEEP WALKING!! Don’t pick it up – it’s a trap!! (Remember when I found that bag of dollar bills and I thought someone was watching and/or pranking me? This stuff freaks me out!)
  2. OMG, that would SUCK if that was my wallet out there and everyone just kept passing it by without a care in the world!  Or worse, they stole everything from it first (my cash, credit cards, IDENTITY!) and THEN discarded it back only to be trampled on by cars day in and day out…

I was genuinely torn, so I did what I always do when I can’t make up my mind like this on the spot – I keep going.  I continue my path as if I never even saw anything, all the while thinking of all the possibilities and what my next move should be as I get farther and farther away.  This is what happened here, and this is what happens whenever I can’t decide if I should buy that new pair of shorts or shirt that’s on sale too. It sucks.  And as I get older, my indecisiveness only get worse :(

So off I went.  Around the corner, and away from this poor wallet faster and faster with each and every step – all the while seeing cars and joggers go right past me AND the wallet themselves! Every time someone went by me I looked back to see what they did, and every single time the same thing happened: they kept going too!  Maybe cuz they didn’t see it as they wooshed by, or maybe because they didn’t *want* to see it as had happened to me.

The Crash One Month Earlier…

Before I continue, I should probably mention one other KEY thing here which was very much an important part of my whole thinking. A month or so earlier, in that VERY SAME SPOT where the wallet now lies, there was a HUGE accident which contained one or two cars in the middle of the night skidding off and bashing up some large trees and a telephone pole.

The place was a wreck, and from the look of it something really horrible must have happened (I meant to hit Google for details after happening across it – again, on a walk – but I promptly forgot and figured I probably didn’t wanna know all the details anyways.  The shattered car parts and mud everywhere painted enough of a picture as is.)

So as you can imagine, seeing a wallet magically appear in the EXACT same spot where the previous crash had happened, started pumping my detective juices in overtime… And here were some of my newest explanations for it all:

  1. This wallet must have been left here from the crash and no one ever saw it for an entire month.
  2. The members of the crash fled the scene of the crime, but they argued with whether or not to turn themselves in, until one day the weaker one comes back and drops it as “evidence” secretly hoping to get caught!
  3. Someone was kidnapped in that spot, somehow relating to this very same car crash, and then THREW their wallet out of the van’s window so that the police would eventually find them!

All insane theories, I know, but someone could be in serious trouble here!  I mean, what are the odds??  And why do I keep coming across all this stuff and no one else?? (Okay, that part could be coincidence, but still – it’s weird, right? ;)).

The Contents of The Wallet

Finally, I decide that enough was enough – even though this whole situation literally spanned about only 60 seconds, haha… – and I walk back to check out the wallet once and for all.

And this is what I found in it:

  • A TON of cash.  Like, maybe $80? (I was too afraid to put my finger prints all in it)
  • A handful of credit cards and other ids
  • A driver’s license which told us who was involved, and where this person lived (I would soon involve an “us” into this all)
  • A couple of love notes (I REALLY wanted to read them, but again – was trying not to leave prints!)
  • And a bunch (like 4 or 5) of business cards…

Now, two interesting things about this wallet: #1)  If all cash was still in there, as well as everything else, it’s pretty evident this wallet must have JUST been put there or else someone would have stolen it all.  So that nixes Theory #1 on it being a leftover from that crash the month before.  And #2) All those business cards that were in there?  They belonged to a police detective!!!! ACK!!!!

So now I’m CERTAIN something suspicious is going on with this whole thing. And even more so that I’m not crazy! (I mean, come on – police business cards?? In an un-touched wallet in the middle of the street??)  I’ve also added one more theory into the mix to replace the one that was just shattered: Perhaps this kid was undercover and now he’s been “found out!”  He got grabbed away and is being held at ransom somewhere!

At the same time I’m delicately going through this wallet, my friend Nate calls me up and starts blabbering on about business which is very much the LAST thing on my mind at the time being. I quickly fill him in and bring him up to speed, and then I ask him what he thinks I should do. After we get past his laughing and thinking I’m a whack job, of course…

He tells me I should either call up one of the detectives from the cards in the wallet, or maybe just go right over to his house and get down to the source once and for all.

Now I’ve seen enough horror movies to know when someone’s about to be a huge idiot and get themselves killed, but the idea of calling the police and making a fool of myself wasn’t all that exciting either.  After all, why would the kidnappers go back to this guy’s house and await their ransom anyways?  That would be pretty stupid. (Although why be careless to miss his wallet too?! Hmm…)

Any way I looked at it though, SOMETHING had to be done cuz now I’ve got this damn kid’s wallet and I very well can’t just hold on to it… I’ve gotten myself right into the middle of things, and now I’ve gotta find a way out and rinse my hands of it all ASAP.

I decide to head home and talk it all over with the wife, while in the meantime snapping a few pictures just in case I needed documentation later for some unknown reason. I figured it couldn’t hurt…

So I walk back along the massive ant trail of papers scattered across town (which is now apparent it all came from the wallet as I see a couple of more little notes on the grass, along w/ some other nondescript biz cards laying around), and I stuff ’em all back into the wallet forming one gigantic-size lump. How this kid even PUTS this thing in his pocket is a mystery in it’s own to me – this thing holds the Library of Congress in there!

I rush back into my house, explain the whole situation (yet again) to my wife this time, and quickly catch my breath back as I eagerly await her response.  “Hmmm… yeah, I think you should probably just go to the house too and see if maybe his parents are home or something. But make sure to hurry cuz we have a doctor’s appointment in about 40 mins.”

“Hurry???  Do you know what I’ve gotten myself into? I’ll be happy if I just make it out of this thing alive!” I half-way jokingly say back. “Well you’re not going by yourself now, that’s for sure! You’ve officially just freaked ME out too! I’m going with you!” That’s not a bad idea, I thought to myself. That way there’s TWO of us there in case anything funky happens, and I’d also have a 2nd witness there to support my story! “Let’s do it!”

I run upstairs to change into something a bit more manlier and tougher looking (I can look pretty scary when I want to be), and off we go in my souped-up Caddy.  All one and half miles away, smack dab in the middle of Pleasantville.

We get to his house, and I see a pretty decent family car sitting there in the driveway. “Someone must be home?” we say at the same time.  “Okay, I’ll go in, and you sit here in the car w/ the engine on just in case, okay? If anything happens, you speed away and call 911!” “Deal” the wife laughs back.” “Here we go! The moment of truth!”

The Moment of Truth

I walk right up to the door, adjust my hat enough to look a bit more hardcore, and I ring that silly little doorbell of theirs (you should have heard the thing, it made quite the tune!).


I waited a few more seconds – which seemed like an eternity at the time – and went right back to ping it again when the door opened. (“Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God!”)

“Yes? Can I help you?” the voice behind the door asked, while she somewhat shielded herself  in case *I* was the bad guy in question here (Hah!)

“Ummm…..” I stammered out, half-way nervous because of the situation, and half way *shocked* at how gorgeous she was! (I wasn’t expecting that!) “Ummm.. Yeah, so I was walking around a couple of minutes ago… and uhh… I kinda found this wallet?” [blank stare back] [blank stare back] “…Maybe it’s yours?” Realizing what an IDIOT I sounded like knowing full damn well it wasn’t HERS at all, but “hers” as in maybe someone in her family’s by chance?  I couldn’t figure out if this woman was this kid’s sister or girlfriend (maybe the receiver of all those notes?), or even one of the criminals involved to throw me off track! You know, send out the pretty one to distract the boy?  It was working!

“Ahh yes…” she replies, letting out a deep breath as well as her guard, “My poor son must have left it on top of his car again, he’s always leaving it on his roof like that.” What the?? ALWAYS??? And you’re his MOM???? “… He just called me about an hour ago saying he couldn’t find it again. You’re so sweet to return it!”

“Uhh… sure!  No problem… You see there was this crash the other week and umm… I was thinking maybe it uhh.. maybe it had to do with this wallet or something? And uh…. nevermind, have a good day!”  I wanted to get out of there so fast so I turned around and just started to go.

“Oh… well thanks again!  What was your name?”

“Jay! Don’t worry about it – It’s all good!” I said halfway back to my car by now.  It seemed she was reaching back into her purse to maybe give me some sort of reward or something (or pull a gun??? no no, stop thinking like that!), but I was way too embarrassed to stay anyways.  Not only did I blow this whole thing out of crazy proportion, but I made a total ass of myself at the best part of doing such a good deed – seeing the reaction! I jumped into the car, gave my wife a high-five, and sped on outta there relieved to be done with everything once and for all.

A small part of me still believed it could have been a ruse, esp. with my new “pretty criminal” theory, but I was also happy to put it all behind me and consider it my first case closed ;) It only took about 30 minutes from start to finish, but MAN does time stop when you’re confused and/or worried and/or scared, haha…. it was a whirlwind of emotions!

Before we made it back home though and ran out to our doctor’s appointment, I got one last question about it from Nate. It seemed in all the commotion I had forgot to update him on what we ended up doing, so I told him and he shot back one last jab, as if to rub it all in: “Well, I’m glad you didn’t die!”

Yes indeed, yes indeed. I live to solve another case! :)

PS: We never got to to the bottom of those detective cards, but I’m thinking he was either looking to get a job w/ them after school or something, or perhaps they were his dad’s or older brother’s cards and THEY worked there instead… The only thing that still kinda concerns me is that one of the cards was for their “child abuse” department, and I just pray he wasn’t in trouble and/or went behind his parents’ back to report them! Cuz then who knows what would have happened once she saw them in there when I returned the wallet :(  But I gotta think those odds are just silly low, right? (RIGHT?)

(Photo by rh1n0. Real photo of mysterious wallet here.)

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  1. Scott June 18, 2012 at 7:13 AM

    You should have at least said “Does X live here?” first! :)

    A less ethical person on the receiving end of “Is this wallet yours?” might easily have responded the same way: “Oh, yeah, that’s mine!” ;)

  2. Lance@MoneyLife&More June 18, 2012 at 7:18 AM

    I think the cards were of network contacts and he was looking for a job hopefully.

    I saw a wallet in the middle of the road when I was driving the other day and turned around and stopped to get it. All it had was a $2 bill and a buy one get one free roller skating coupon for a place in Georgia (I live in Florida). It was obviously a kid’s wallet from an out of town tourist family. I’d return it if there was a way but I have no clue where it’d go and no one came back for it in the 10 minutes we waited.

  3. Michelle June 18, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    That’s very nice of you to return it! Very mysterious though.

  4. gina June 18, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    I found an entire purse in the road, in front of a shopping strip mall, I was driving and had to go around the block to come back to fetch it. It had everything an Identity theft would love, social security cards, medical cards, check book, credit cards, work id badge. i picked it up and looked at the drivers license, and in detective fashion went into the thrift store and looked for the lady, found her announced her name and she looked at me.. I asked are you missing something? and she said her purse and handed it over to her. she looked just like her driver license…I saw a cop on the way to the store (that i know) and he told me to find her , because it is a HUGE hassle to retrieve your item from an evidence room at the police station, not to mention the police haver bigger things to worry about than a lost purse.
    So good job on returning the wallet, wouldn’t you rather have an honest person to pick up your lost item and return it rather than a criminal?

  5. J. Money June 18, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    @Scott – I know!!! I was too disheveled to ask the right questions and all that – she caught me off guard! Haha… but I figured since the address matched the kid’s ID, and he was def. too young to be living on his own somewhere else, it must have belonged there, ya know? She didn’t seem like she was trying to pull a fast one on me, but I was too nervous to catch on I suppose even if she was ;)
    @Lance@MoneyLife&More – A $2 bill? Nice! So where is it now?
    @Michelle – That’s the only thing that got me to do it – I knew I’d want it home safely if it were my wallet! If there was nothing in there, I’d have just left it or thrown it away… but man, that thing had so many ids and personal information in it, it’s good someone else didn’t find it!
    @gina – Well done!! And smart, looking for the person who matched the ID and all that, haha… seems common sense when you think about it, but sometimes when you’re in the middle of figuring it all out it can slip your brain (or, at least mine ;)). I’m glad you were the one to find her purse too!

  6. TB at BlueCollarWorkman June 18, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    THose cards were from the child abuse dept? That’s no good. I wonder if he is in a bad home… or he’s a jerk and trying to get his parents in trouble cuz they wouldn’t let him go out some night. ?? It’s a mystery. I would’ve done what you did, although I”m not sure all the crazy scenarios would’ve run through my head that you were thinking, haha! Good job returning it, dude :-)

  7. Kris @ SimpleIslandLiving June 18, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    You’re so funny! Your mind works like mine – a thousand miles a minutes – with stories of what things could possibly be. I totally would have thought the same things as you. My husband says it’s the writer’s mind – making up stories constantly.

  8. Philip June 18, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    Wowsa… that is some complex mind you got there! Went crazy with ideas, only thing I can remember is out mountain biking I found a wallet on the ground and opened it up, found an I.D. and went to the main parking lot trying to find the person who dropped it, finally found him out on the trail and asked if he was the name on the card… he was pretty shocked. Then he realized he had dropped other stuff too. At least he got his wallet back.

  9. Ash (in US) June 18, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    J$ you are a h00t! I would have thought about half of that, and as a female I would have brought backup, but I probably would have looked around for the person and then dropped it off at his house if I had the time.

    If I didn’t have the time I might have just left it there… or at a nearby store. I would have felt weird about pocketing a wallet and not giving it back for a bit.

  10. Squeezer @Personal Finance Success June 18, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    paranoid much? lol

  11. Stephanie June 18, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    Seconding the “overthinker” comment. lol After your description of the trail of trash, I assumed someone left it on the top of their car – I’ve seen that happen a few times.

    I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve found credit cards…and they’re always unsigned. We’re talking double-digits easy.

  12. J. Money June 18, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    @TB at BlueCollarWorkman – I do tend to overthink sometimes, but you really never know! This post would have never been written had I gotten kidnapped ;)
    @Kris @ SimpleIslandLiving – Haha… I’ll admit my “what ifs” have been a lot stronger since blogging :)
    @Philip – Yeah for sure, that’s the most important part I’d imagine. Way to go out looking for him :)
    @Ash (in US) – Oh yeah, a LOT freakier as a woman showing up to a stranger’s house – esp one where you had doubts ;) Even I was scared!
    @Kevin @ – An overthinkinker and a very safe man ;)
    @Squeezer @Personal Finance Success – Yup! But luckily not enough to drive myself to the loony farm, haha… but close!
    @Stephanie – Wow, really? I don’t think I’ve ever found a c/c just laying there before, only wallets apparently :)

  13. Jen @ Master the Art of Saving June 18, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    It’s nice to know I’m not the only paranoid, imaginative person out there. I was cracking up while reading this, because I could see myself getting all worked up like you did. That was very cool of you to return it, even though it could have cost your life. ;-)

  14. David Hunter June 18, 2012 at 9:29 PM

    I feel like I just read a great book!

  15. LB June 18, 2012 at 10:51 PM

    You are seriously paranoid, but so funny! I had stuff like that happen all the time when I had my side-hussle delivering newspapers to the racks on corners. Usually would find wholle purses or wallets IN the newspaper machines Sunday or Saturday mornings. (Found more after holidays.) Usually it just looked like the person accidently left stuff on the lid the closed the machine, on top of the machine or around it (mostly behind it). The cops got used to my husband and I because we both had other full time jobs, so always left the stuff with them. All the cops were cool and even had every cell phone charger, so they could even get cell phones back to people. I never got to meet any of the people, but would like to think I am preety good on Karma for awhile considering all the cash, paychecks and cell phones I found and returned. :)

  16. B. (Below Her Means) June 18, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    J. Money, we love you but you CRAY!

  17. Sense June 19, 2012 at 5:09 AM

    I totally do that overthinking thing too when finding stuff, but duty always calls and I try to return the item(s) to the rightful owner, as it is what I would want someone to do for me (and someone DID do that for me, last year!).

    The cops probably just came by his school to give a talk and handed out their cards or something. He had love notes so someone obviously loves him. :)

    Aw, you are an anonymous do gooder to that family, what great karma you must have coming to you!

  18. Darlene June 19, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    I am a letter carrier at the Post Office and people toss lost wallets in mailboxes all the time. We look at the ID for an address (like on the driver’s license) and return it to the person. Once they brought me a wallet that had an address on my route, and the family had moved (and hadn’t updated the address on their license) but I happened to know their new address and we were able to return it to them at their new place.

    Some other items I’ve returned to people: work IDs, school IDs, car registration, envelope of grocery money accidentally dropped in with the bills, and a debit card

  19. J. Money June 19, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    @Jen @ Master the Art of Saving – It’s a nice trade-off right? Haha…
    @David Hunter – Awesome! I felt like I was writing one! It only took me 4 hours!!! ;)
    @LB – Haha, there you go! So I guess it’s kinda like that scene from Dumb & Dumber, eh? I always thought I’d lost my stuff in there too if I were a paper reader like that :)
    @B. (Below Her Means) – You know how we do!
    @Sense – I really REALLY wanted to read the love notes too!! It took everything in me to leave them alone, haha… another good reason I offloaded that thing as soon as I could ;) I’m glad someone did it for you too last year! How wonderful.
    @Darlene – Woahh, now THAT’s an awesome idea!! Wouldn’t have ever thought of that, but yes – totally makes sense! You all know all kinds of things about your residents on your routes. Thanks for the insight! And if you could answer one other question for me, I’d be delighted: Where do mailmen/women pee? They’re out there all day! :)

  20. Kevin I June 19, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    Maybe he has all those business cards because he’s trying to win the police department free lunches all over town. It’s hard out there, you give back how you can :)

  21. Craig June 19, 2012 at 8:27 PM

    I would have just left it at their door with a sign saying “stop leaving your crap around!” with the wallet on the ground. You never know what people are capable these days…they will sue for anything…

  22. Mikayla June 20, 2012 at 2:43 AM

    LOL I thought I had an imagination…how strange would it have been if when you went to the door the hottie flung the door open screaming “OMMIGOD that’s his wallet, the FBI are inside right now looking for leads to his kidnapping!!”… glad it didn’t play out like that, but you’d have been like a psychic superhero or something… good on you for returning it, in the end when facing a tough decision you sleep a lot better if you do whatever it is you would want someone to do to you/for you….. good lesson to pass on to the kiddo as well =)

    Raise your hand if you’re glad she didn’t have a gun!!!

  23. J. Money June 20, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    @Kevin I – Hahahahaha… now THAT is some funny $hit :)
    @Craig – Oh great, I didn’t even think about that stuff! Don’t freak me out man! Haha…
    @Mikayla – ***HANDS AND FEET RISEN!!!!!***

  24. Lance@MoneyLife&More June 20, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    The two dollar bill and wallet are in my girlfriend’s car. We couldn’t figure out what else to do with it so we held onto it. It is actually a decent leather wallet. When mine wears out I might use it.

  25. J. Money June 21, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    Haha, nice. I’d be more excited about the $2 bill – I collect all the ones I find even though I know they’re not worth much more than that (although I do have some REALLY old ones). So if you ever get tired of looking at it, you know where to send it ;)

  26. PK July 5, 2012 at 8:18 PM

    I’m glad you made it out okay :) I probably would have called the police and dropped it off there. I found a driver’s license one day while I was walking the dog, brought it home with me, and then called the police station.

  27. J. Money July 6, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    That’s probably the safest way to go :) Curiosity sometimes gets you into more trouble than you bargained for!