American in Spain

A Good Deed

April 15, 2010

Last Saturday, Marga and I decided to take Nora down to a local optometrist to see if there were some sunglasses that fit her. Her previous ones got lost. Nora was having absolutely nothing to do with trying on sunglasses, so we left to head back to the car to go to the mall. On the way back home, Marga noticed a coin purse on the ground near a fruit shop. I picked it up and discovered a DNI (a Spanish national identity card), a credit card, and at least 50€ in it. Whenever I find a wallet, I am overtaken by empathy for its owner and do my best to do the right thing. The owner was a 28-year-old from Laredo. The fruit shop owner recognized her as a customer, but didn't really know her. So we went to the Colindres police station, only to find it abandoned. On our way to the mall, we stopped by the Laredo Guardia Civil station to drop it off. They asked for all my details, including my name, cell phone number, and DNI number. Part of me, helped by Marga's definitively Spanish distrust of her fellow citizen (no ground floor window is without wrought iron bars in Spain), was concerned that the owner might be a jerk and claim that there was more money in it than was found, thus implicating me in a robbery. But the ladies at the Guardia Civil (I was pleased to see female agents in such a male-dominated country) seemed so nice and assured me that they were only taking my information in case the owner wanted to thank me. After deciding that taking my information with a pen would be faster than the computer program, they let me go.

Later in the mall, as we were checking out the selection of car seats, I received a call from the owner of the wallet thanking me and saying, specifically, that she was "reassured to discover that there were still good people in the world." It definitely made my day.

The remarkable thing, that inspired this post, is that when we were in the local pharmacy today, a woman asked us if we were the couple that had found a wallet last Saturday. We said defensively, "Yes, but we turned it in!" It turns out that the woman talking to us was the aunt of the wallet dropper and also the mother-in-law of a coworker of Marga's. Such is the nature of a small town. How strange that the wallet loser would tell her aunt my name, and her aunt would recognize it as the husband of a coworker of her son-in-law. Weird.

It's awfully nice when an intentionally anonymous act of kindness gets discovered.