When Right Is Wrong

It’s normal for me to find things while I’m out running or cycling. Within the past year I’ve found two phones and I happily returned them to their owners, an easy task considering that neither phone was locked and there was a contact labeled Home in both of them.

Easy. The owners even gave me a little something for my trouble when it was no trouble at all.

But last Tuesday, I came across a few things, one of which was rather important.


Here you see an opened gift bag for Chinese New Year and a wallet. The gift bag was near the sidewalk of my usual rest stop for my BSR (Big Sunday Run of at least 8 miles) and the wallet was about 50 feet away and lying on top of a short cinderblock wall.

When I saw the gift bag I thought, “Hey, pretty cool” and put it in my pocket. What you see here is what was in it: four half-dollars. I figured there’s no way to prove who it belonged to or where it came from so there was no harm in taking it home. It was as I was starting to run again when I saw the wallet.

I looked at it and noticed that the owner’s driver’s license was on top of it along with their medical insurance card, almost as if someone had gone through it. In a standard case I would have just looked up the address and delivered it to them personally but the address on the license was nowhere near me – it was about 100 miles away.

And here’s where the adventure begins. Thinking I was doing the right thing, I put both IDs in the wallet and took it home. That was my mistake.

I ran home and looked inside the wallet for clues that might have led me to the owner. There was no money or credit cards inside, only some business and certification cards. While the business cards would have been no help, the certification card may have.

So I looked up the business listed on the certification hoping that the wallet’s owner worked there. I called and asked if Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo worked there. (Not his real name, by the way.) It was confirmed that no, he didn’t work there but that it was awfully nice of me to try and track him down.

Hey, I was doing right. If I ever lost mine, I’d want the same thing to happen to me.

That didn’t work so I took to a community Facebook page where, once again, I was met with approbation from citizens who thought I was a good egg for posting what I had found in the hopes that someone there might know him. I also checked Twitter and Facbook for the owner and nothing matched. I guess we’re all not all socially connected.

I even checked Craigslist. Nope.

Since I had the address, I thought that mailing it to the owner would be the next best option. I bought postage online, wrote a short note to the owner, stuck the wallet inside a padded envelope, put the label on the envelope and dropped it in the mailbox.

I kept checking the tracking number to ensure that the wallet was delivered and up until Thursday, it wasn’t. Then when the mail came that day, I got this:


The package has been returned to me. I apparently didn’t put the contents in the proper envelope and the wonderful, nearly bankrupt USPS has nothing better to do with their time than to nitpick every little thing that passes through their system and write personal notes pointing out the error of my ways on said envelopes. Ahem.

So now the wallet is back in my possession. It gets better.

Ann told me that it would probably be better to just turn it in to the local authorities and let them deal with it. So after dropping Anthony off at school, I decided that she was right and drove over to the local sheriff’s office to do the right thing.

We entered the station and were greeted by an empty desk with a phone and extensions to call depending on your situation. I called the General Help line and explained that I was there to turn in a wallet I had found. The woman said she would be right out.

With a notepad in hand, she was ready to jot down all of the information I had for her. I placed the wallet on the counter as she asked me where I found it.

“Between Heartwell Park and Parkcrest Christian Church,” I said. Her pen didn’t even meet paper when she suddenly became disinterested in my situation. She put them both down.

She then told me that because I had found it in Long Beach, I had to turn it into a Long Beach station. I told her that the license listed an address in 100-Mile-Away-City, to which she replied with the following.

“It doesn’t matter, he could have changed addresses. He was in Long Beach for a reason, right?”

Mouth. Agape.

Seriously, here I am trying to do the right thing and I’m being shot down by a person of authority. And far be it from me to argue with a person who carries a firearm for a living, but I could have really gone to town with her.

Assumptions? Really? Let’s make assumptions that this person now lives in the city? He could have been visiting, lost, who knows? And since I found this wallet somewhere out of your supposed jurisdiction, you can’t take it? So does that mean the next time I’m speeding through Lakewood, you can’t do anything to me because I live in Long Beach?

It was stupid. It made absolutely no sense. By the way, here’s a map of how close the two cities are and where I found the wallet.

wallet location

Honestly, it’s no wonder their boss recently retired.

Mailing it didn’t help. The local sheriff’s department was totally useless. Fortunately, despite all that had happened so far, there’s a Post Office next door to the sheriff’s department so I thought I’d just get the right envelope and send it on its merry way.

I went into the lobby and was greeted to locked doors. They were closed.

Strike Three. This was enough to, as Ann’s dad is fond of saying, “piss off the Pope.” I dunno. This new one seems kind of down, if you know what I’m sayin’.

The only local Long Beach Police station I could think of was at the other side of town or, as locals are proud to point out, across the street from Krispy Kreme. No joke.


“You owe me a doughtnut then,” Ann told me as we were driving over there.

We got there, parked, and strolled up to the door of the station. I really should have taken a picture for comedic effect because there it was, on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper in 24 pt. Arial and in red, the word CLOSED followed by an explanation.


By now I’m ready to just leave it on the ground and forget about it but that’s not the right. But as we were walking away, we saw an officer – decorated beyond anyone I’ve seen in a patrol car – who was just about ready to leave. I waved him down, explained to him what I found, what I was doing, and what I was told at the sheriff’s department.

I won’t repeat exactly what he said but to put it kindly, he is of the opinion that the work habits of some of those who work in the sheriff’s department often rival behavior that is indicative of a slow-moving animal stuck in molasses during the winter.

It was the best laugh I had had in a long time.

The officer took the wallet, info on where I found it and the date, time, and my contact info. He then thanked us and shook our hands. I should have bought him a coffee. Serving your community shouldn’t be seen as a roadblock, and this officer was well aware of that. He was a great guy.

And with that, it was over. The wallet is now in the possession of Long Beach police where I guess I should have gone in the first place. Hopefully they can get it back to the owner and everything works out alright.

Ann did get her doughtnut and I suppose I have some kind of satisfaction and good karma coming my way for spending money on a shipping label I never ended up using and for the gas I spent driving all over town.

Until then, I’m staying the H out of Lakewood.

Don’t lose your wallet in Lakewood…