Anxiety, Arizona, Blog, Family, Lifestyle, Memoir, Writing

I Left My Wallet…in El Segundo

According to the website, “to dream that you’ve lost your wallet indicates that you’re possibly losing touch with your true identity. You are experiencing some anxiety over changes and uncertainties happening in your life.”

Actually misplacing or losing your wallet is to actually lose your identity…well, at least your ID, and has been known to induce a temporary panicked anxiety attack of epic proportion.

So it’s one thing to put your wallet in the wrong place and spend several minutes to several hours hunting for it. It’s another to realize and conclude that it is no longer to be found…we’re talkin’ something comparable to a nuclear meltdown; an all-out freak-out.

And has “9 (pretty obvious) Tips” to deal with actually losing your wallet. Their description is fairly bang on, “Losing your wallet or purse can be a devastating experience. Not only have you lost your identification, but also your cash, your credit and debit cards and anything else that may have been inside.”

A few months ago it happened to my son. I felt awful, he was clearly and rightfully distraught, but I was completely sincere when I advised him that he might get it back…it could happen…really…

Humphreys Peak, AZ
Humphreys Peak, AZ

Back around the middle of February of this year, 2014, my son was invited to climb the tallest mountain in Arizona. He happened to be living there in Tempe, AZ at the time (and still is for a few more weeks), and he happily said yes. At least one fellow climber was a classmate and friend, the others he’d never met before, but they were all very experienced climbers.

Off they went near Flagstaff to summit Humphreys Peak, elevation 12, 635 ft, give or take. The starting point of the climb was at about 8500 ft, a parking area where they prepped and then left their vehicles behind.

It was an intense climb with intense climbers and he loved it. The trail is almost 5 miles of very un-Arizona-like snow-covered terrain, and he snapped some amazing photos on the way up and at the top. Then they had an exciting trek down, too, but they each made it back in one piece!

I’m not certain if he was part way or all the way home when he realized he didn’t have his wallet. Yep, all his IDs including Driver’s license, his bank debit and other cards, and possibly, I think, a card fully stamped for a free sandwich? Plus, the wallet itself was a gift from his girlfriend, and just a very cool wallet.

He called me and told me about his dilemma, and of course I was crestfallen. We discussed cancelling and replacing cards, and getting new IDs. I knew how much he liked his wallet, too, and I felt really bad about it being gone.

He surmised it must have fallen out of his pocket in the parking area, he usually stows it safely away in his backpack, or even car, but he’d checked with his friend and there was no sign of it. Normally, he wouldn’t even have had it in his pocket at all just before hiking, but they’d gone for breakfast after staying locally to get an early start.

We could only assume it was sitting somewhere over half the way up Humphreys Peak…in the snow…in February. What could he do?

Not much.

So, he replaced what he could, even ordering a new Virginia license online and picking it up when he arrived at home on Spring Break. At least he was able to fly with his Passport.

Still, he could hold out hope that it would be found and returned. That somehow it might make its way back. It happens…

My son, in the red circle, with friends at a ballgame in 2014
My son, in the red circle, with friends at a ballgame in 2014

Back in 1968 my father traveled with friends from Nova Scotia up to Toronto in Ontario. They crashed with the brother one of the guys, who was already living there.

There were about nine of them, and I’m not sure what all adventures they had, but I know they had some. For instance getting up to Toronto on the old “Hobo System” – specifically, back in ’68 the boys hopped trains, as it was the only way to see the country!

And the one thing that I do know that they did up there in the big city was they definitely went swimming in a Toronto pool. I’ve known this for most of my life because it’s kind of an infamous story in our family…”That time dad lost his wallet in a pool in Toronto”.

Even without knowing all the details, the before and after-math, I can assuredly say that he’s a lucky guy. Although he literally had his wallet fall out of the pocket of what I can only assume back in 1968 were cut-off jeans, and presumably drop to the bottom of a public pool, he was destined to be reunited with it.

As crazy as it sounds, someone found it in the pool. They obviously didn’t have all the many ways that we now have to track people down back in the Sixties. There also wasn’t the identity theft that we see nowadays.

The Good Samaritan kindly dropped it into a Canada Post mail box and it snaked its way back to the address found inside, all the way to Truro, Nova Scotia, some 1056 miles or so east of Ontario. However, having taken place in Canada, nowadays it would have to travel via the Metric system, so roughly 1700 kilometers, ha ha, but back in ’68 the Metric system wasn’t the standard, yet.

In the end the wallet made it back, photos still inside, everything a little worse for wear, but he went on to use it for many, many years…

My dad, in the red circle, hanging out with friends in 1968
My dad, in the red circle, hanging out with friends in 1968

Now, get this…back in 1994, I was living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, attending Dalhousie University and working part time at Merrill’s Café & Lounge; restaurant by day, club by night. On one of these nights after a busy, exhausting Happy Hour shift I grabbed a taxicab home to the South End.

After I paid the driver with cash from my tips, I went into our apartment, finally, after a long day. I saw the sitter out, and then I checked in on Cameron. Drained, I think I fell asleep rather quickly.

You can imagine my horror the next day when I discovered I no longer had my wallet!

It was a beautiful brown leather ladies clutch wallet with a pretty plaid lining that I’d purchased on layaway at a shop down on “Ferry Boat Lane”, near Perk’s Coffee. Of course it had my Driver’s license and Dal ID, as well as other important cards, and a cheque book (Canadian spelling), too.

I called the cab company, but no sign of it. I was in full panic mode when my phone rang. A sweet-sounding female voice asked me if I was Raina (pronounced correctly).

I curiously answered in the affirmative. Well, she explained that she’d found a wallet in a taxi the night before and thought it might be safest if she tracked me down herself, instead of handing it to the driver. She’d noticed my phone number was printed on my cheques, so she waited to call at a decent hour.

She gave me her address and when she’d be home to return it. I was unfamiliar with her neighborhood, but I found the buses to get me there and set off at the proper time to collect my prized wallet.

Truth be told, I’d never been to that part of the city, and it was way off my usual grid. Maybe I was a little trepidatious, and also a little naïve. It all seemed pretty quiet at that time of day though. Just as she said, she and my wallet were waiting.

Everything was intact, everything. I knew how lucky I’d been. Dodged a bul…I won’t finish another cliché. When I stopped into work to check on something, I mentioned the whole wallet debacle, concluding with where I’d gone to get it and I was told that I never should have gone to that part of the city alone! Oops.

But I had my wallet, with my cash and cards, photos and IDs, all back in my own hands. So as Napoleon Dynamite would say, “Lucky!”…

Me, in the red circle, with friends on Halloween in 1994
Me, in the red circle, with friends on Halloween in 1994

Circle back to the current year again, when one Spring day my son opens Facebook to find a message in his inbox from an unfamiliar name. He doesn’t recognize the little thumbnail size profile photo either.

Sure enough though, it was a guy telling him he thought he found his wallet. And sure enough it had been lying in the melting snow at the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort in the Coconino National Forrest, where you start to climb the Humphreys Peak trail.

The finder says they only caveat is that he’s a student at ACU in Phoenix and he has no way to get the wallet back to the Flagstaff area. Well this could not have worked out much better for everyone since ASU Tempe campus is just a public transportation ride away! Which, he sets up.

So in the end his wallet came back to him, pretty much fully intact. Amazing? Yes, but…three generations…was this a family legacy, or what? He was super glad his wallet found its way back to him, and I was too, but I was even more glad he had a safe trip up and down Humphreys Peak as it wasn’t until much later that I found out it was an avalanche prone area, and the very next day 2 NAU students had to be rescued! [link]

Funny how the Universe seems to balance things out, for example all three of us had great luck with our wallets, but you should see how badly we all react to bug bites and stings. Actually, I hope that you never see that!

The very cool wallet back where it belongs with my kid!
The very cool wallet back where it belongs with my kid!

*No wallets were actually left in El Segundo…those are just lyrics from a funky-cool song from 1990 by A Tribe Called Quest featuring Q-Tip…see it here.

— Raina K Morton July 15, 2014

6 thoughts on “I Left My Wallet…in El Segundo”

  1. That was a great story! I knew about Dad, I knew about Cameron – but didn’t know his wallet actually came back!!!!! but I didn’t know about your wallet! How neat is that….you all must have good karma for those wallets to find their way back to each of you…of course, with the assistance and kindness of strangers! Ah, ‘People for Good’ was and is still alive and being practiced by many.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just read your family wallet stories , Rai , and noticed I’ve neglected to tell you and Jen so much of my life that some incidents have not gotten included in our stories that could have. For instance, my very same wallet which was lost in TO, was lost after that trip down on Daytona Beach FLA another time while travelling with some of the same train hopping friends. It was lost on the beach for 4 or 5 days and after giving up finding it, I decided to stop at the Daytona Beach Police Dept. on the way out of town and ask. Yep….it was there and after establishing my ID. We were on the road again. Ah the tales!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We might have to get you a hand-held recorder to get your stories recorded for posterity! That’s great that your wallet had two big adventures, but always came back home!! hahaha 😀
      Love you Dad


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