It’s been almost a month with no suspicious activity, so I think it should be safe for me to spill the proverbial beans. Ed does not want me to tell this story, but since when do I listen to voices of reason. Sit back, relax, and drink this all in:
The day was like any other, albeit a little more annoying – not having a wallet meant I had no money, no access to money, was driving around illegally, and could not – should the opportunity arise – insert photo of super hottie boyfriend anywhere. I raided my puggie bank to get some change for Diet Coke and plotted my attack. I needed to get to a bank and quickly, so I opted to make a surprise visit to the warehouse in Richmond as my excuse to be away from the office.
Getting a temporary bank card issued was a royal pain in the ass. I hadn’t thought far enough ahead to bring my passport with me as a means of identification, but I *did* have my bank card number memorized. I passed along what information I had, and settled in to wait while they contacted my home branch – in Calgary, because you wouldn’t believe how complicated it is to transfer home branches between provinces – to confirm that my ridiculous signature actually matched the one on file. Everything checked out eventually, so I was issued a temporary bank card with the promise of a new one within 10 days.
Okay, I could get money now. Money meant I could eat, which is important to us fatties. I still might be driving around illegally, but I would deal with that later.
That evening I was bemoaning my lack of luck with the Vancouver Police Lost and Found Department. I had filed a police report on my wallet in the hopes that the mysterious Visa caller would follow their advice and drop the wallet off at a station, but my hopes were dashed when I was told nothing had been turned in. Still, I had a police report now, and maybe my missing wallet would be recovered someday. I resigned myself to having to replace my license and various loyalty cards, and bid a mournful farewell to the $65 in EB Games credit.
Then I got an email:
hi kimli i found your wallet please call me and came pick it up this is my phone no this is the second email iam sending to you. xxx-xxx-xxxx my name is joe
HOT DAMN! I squeaked in excitement and set aside my natural aversion to talking to strangers on the phone to call the number.
It came to pass that Joe (not his real name) had found my wallet exactly where I thought I lost it – next to the Delica, outside Heritage Hall – around 10:30 that morning, probably mere minutes after I lost it.
It was actually his friend who found it, and – he apologized – his friend took all the cash that was inside, then went to throw the wallet out. He rescued it, and kept it with him until that evening when he could go through it to look for a phone number. There wasn’t one, so he called Visa to report it. I was ecstatic – when could I get my wallet? Joe said he lived in New Westminster, but I didn’t mind. I would drive out there and get my wallet. Hooray!
Then he told me not to forget his reward. I hadn’t mentioned a reward, so I laughed and asked if there was anything I could get him – wine, or a favourite liquor? He said he didn’t drink but thanks for the offer. I should give him a reward, he said, because he stopped his friend from using my credit cards like he wanted to. I thanked him profusely, knowing that this was indeed a possibility and was glad he had the decency to keep his friend from stealing more from me. We chatted a bit, and agreed that I would be by his place some time after 7 that evening.
Joe had mentioned that he had emailed me on Saturday night to tell me he had my wallet, but I didn’t respond. I checked my spam folder after the call, and sure enough there was a message:
this is regarding you wallet that i found it on starday moring with my friend so give me your phone no and i will cal you and came pick up, but dont forgat my reward
How .. odd. Still, I was delighted. I turned to Ed and told him the story, saying the he would have to come with me to New Westminster because even though I was excited I was not stupid enough to go to a strange man’s house alone. He agreed, but he was worried. I gave him Joe’s story – about how this guy he was with found my wallet and took all the cash in it and the repeated requests for a reward and how he came to have the wallet in the first place – and his inner cynic took over. It didn’t make sense to him, and it made him nervous. I admit that I found holes in the story – his friend threw my wallet away after taking the cash, but still had it to use the credit cards? – but I didn’t care and I wanted to believe that people could be nice for the sake of doing the right thing. Wallet! Tonight! Yay!
We left the house a little later, stopping to tell Josh and Shan the good news. It wasn’t an unusual step – jus last night I went to their place to show them my socks – but I was very glad we had taken the 2 minutes to let them know where we were going.
Ed and I found the place in New West with little difficulty. The nights were extremely foggy and a great deal of construction had happened since we last lived in the area, but Google Maps rarely lets me down. We parked the car and walked to the address – a newish looking townhouse in a large complex of identical units. Eager but nervous, I rang the doorbell and we waited.
And waited. After what seemed like forever, the door opened. We introduced ourselves, and Joe invited us in. I had sort of hoped he would just hand over the wallet and we could be on our way, but Joe insisted we come inside. Not want to appear rude or ungrateful, we agreed. He led us upstairs and seated us in the living room, briefly introducing us to the young woman watching TV off the kitchen. Ed and I sat, and Joe excused himself to get my wallet.
.. or did he? Ed and I waited, sharing nervous glances and raised eyebrows as the minutes dragged on. We could hear whispers in a different language, and clinking. After a very long time – seriously, 7-8 minutes – Joe returned, with two glasses of orange juice and some napkins on a tray. He offered us the beverages, and even though we were both wildly tense with spidey sense, we accepted them.
Joe sat down, and we talked about how he found my wallet. He mentioned again that his friend found it, and as a reward for finding it he gave his friend the $50 + change. His friend went through the wallet and found all the credit cards, and suggested they go on a spending spree with them. Joe refused, and said he would find the wallet’s owner and talked his friend out of buying gas and cigarettes with the cards. His friend was getting angry, so he gave him the money in the wallet to placate him. He apologized for taking it, but felt it would distract his friend from the credit cards. I told him not to worry about it, and that I appreciated his intervention with the cards. His friend was pretty mad about it, he kept repeating, but Joe saved the day.
Joe asked if we owned a juice company. I laughed, and explained that the business cards he found were just for my personal website – we didn’t own a thing. Ed mentioned that we didn’t have much money for a reward, to which Joe said “no, no, I don’t want a reward, I just wanted to do the right thing”. Relieved, I said thank you and discreetly handed Ed the money I had on me – $40, withdrawn as a paltry reward but honestly all I had. We talked a little more about his friend and my wallet (which Joe eventually went and retrieved), and Ed asked if he could use the washroom. Joe escorted him to the bathroom and returned to the living room.
When Ed was out of the room, Joe’s demeanor and story changed (again). His friend – this guy – was angry that the wallet only had $60 in it, and he wanted to use the credit cards. He only allowed Joe to take the wallet in the hopes there would be more money coming later, and now Joe was going to have to give his friend money out of pocket. I was confused by this – why would this guy expect additional money when he stole from me in the first place? – and reminded Joe that we didn’t have anything to give but the small amount I brought with me. Joe was unhappy about this; this guy would be very angry and he would have to calm him down and it would cost Joe money to do so.
I was getting pretty nervous about this turn of events, but luckily Ed returned at that moment. When he did, I asked him if he could give Joe the $40 I put in his pocket earlier. Ed was confused, but did as I asked. I apologized again that it wasn’t much, saying that we didn’t really have a lot of money but it was just a small thank you for keeping my wallet safe and putting the effort into finding me. We stood to leave, and Joe escorted us downstairs. We said our goodbyes and left, walking through the silent fog back to our car.
Once in the warm safety of the Mazdabator, Ed and I both exploded with talking. Ed asked what the hell was up with the no-reward-yes-reward, and I told him how Joe turned hostile and weird the instant Ed left the room. We were both seriously creeped out by the situation, and none of it made much sense. It was weird and wrong and so very, very unsettling. Ed unconsciously sped across the bridge in our haste to remove ourselves from the situation, and I babbled to myself uneasily.
Then my phone rang.
I didn’t know who was calling me, but Ed instantly knew. It was Joe. I should have ignored the call, but I answered it apprehensively.
Joe immediately launched into a diatribe about “this guy”. He was upset, you see. He couldn’t – wouldn’t – believe that I had only given Joe $40 as a reward, and insisted that Joe was lying and holding out on him. Joe said he was going to have to give this guy several hundred dollars, his share of the reward I SHOULD have given him. I didn’t know what to do, and I told Joe that. I repeated that we had no money and we gave what we could, which he REFUSED and then took anyway, and that this guy wasn’t our problem. I appreciated that he found my wallet and kept the credit cards safe (I was in the middle of destroying them when he called; wallet back or not I wasn’t going to take any chances), but didn’t think I was able to do much by way of getting this guy off his back. Joe rambled on and on – this guy was mad, this guy thinks he’s lying, this guy can’t believe I only gave $40, this guy wanted to use my credit cards, this guy is going to come after him – and I was pretty freaked out.
Ed heard my half of the conversation, and pulled the car to the side of the road. He grabbed the phone from my grateful hands, and asked Joe what the hell was going on. He ended up speaking to Joe for a good 20 minutes, repeating – much more firmly – the things I had told him and telling Joe the he was a good man for being honest, and “this guy” calling him a liar was bullshit. He played on Joe’s honour, and asked if this guy was going to be a problem. In a manly move pulled right out of a badly written teen romance novel, he told Joe how it was going to be: here is MY phone number; if this guy wants to discuss things further he can call ME because you’re upsetting my wife and I DO NOT WANT this guy to speak to her; if there is truly no problem then when we hang up this situation is OVER and no one will be attempting to extort anything from either of us, understand? If I hadn’t been so scared – let’s face it, I’m not Indiana Jones except in my mind – I would have swooned. As it was, I was glad someone in the car had balls and a voice that didn’t sound like a 14 year old girl’s.
We hit the road again with no further interruptions, making it home in record time. I stopped at Josh and Shan’s again, to tell them the story – they were amazed and disgusted. Ed checked on our apartment, and explained that he was very worried that the phone call was a diversion – after all, they had our address and could have easily used the time they knew we were away to ransack the place and fondle our dainties. I was very glad he hadn’t said this in the car, because I knew there was a distinct possibility he was right: as much as I’d rather believe otherwise, not all people are good or decent or kind.
It’s been a month, and we haven’t heard from either Joe OR this guy. I think we’re okay – none of my cards were compromised, I’ve changed everything I need to, and nothing creepier than usual has happened.
We’ve locked our deadbolt every night since.