Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I love this city!

There are so many things about this city that can get under your skin, just little things like the time you have to wait for a bus to show up (and then have 3 in a row come by) or the way people forget that you're squishy and almost run you over with their cars.

But then there are days like today: A day where a small action had a large repercussion and helped to reaffirm my belief that there are good people out there after all.

By the time I realized it was gone I knew it was too late. Standing there on the platform of Runnymede station I felt the cold bolt of fear grip me: my wallet was missing and I had no idea when or where it fell out.

Fell out. That's the key. My sister had gotten me this slick new jacket for Christmas, looked very nice with one minor exception: The pockets were far too shallow. It would seem that that's where my problem began.

While on my way to do some grocery shopping with my girlfriend, I'd scurried across the road and never noticed that my wallet had fallen out of my pocket and into the middle of the street. I would be at least 30 minutes in there and down into the belly of the TTC before I'd realize.

And I backtracked my steps, I went to every place we'd been to that day, back and forth, scouring every nook and cranny where it could have possibly been. No luck. My temper flared - how could I be so stupid?! I knew better than to put important things in those pockets. It was a simple mistake, a thoughtless action but there it was: my life, clad in a 4x3 inch foldable leather housing, was gone.

Debit Cards, VISAs, my Birth Certificate, SIN Card, Health Card, Driver's License - just the thought of that much personal information being at the hands of would-be ne'er-do-wells made my skin crawl. I became frantic, trying to remember everything I had on me, the places I'd have to call. I dialed my Visa's first and waited in silent agony as my girlfriend watched in shock as my mood had steadily declined. She tried to be supportive and I wanted to let her but I was inconsolable. The more I thought about it, the more I started to imagine. I imagined all the things that could've been done - I mean, not even to my Credit Cards, those are a quick fix, they've been great at reporting illegal usage before - No, it was my Identity. That scared me. All that I am on 4 separate pieces of paper and plastic with the most sophisticated of them being protected by a photograph and a magnetic strip.

Finally I'd weathered the storm of "extreme call volumes" -- really, how is it supposed to instill confidence in the consumer if you're telling us that your service reps are being inundated with phone calls? -- and I got to talk to a guy who sounded like he was reading from a manual. After my every sentence he began with "Yes sir, I will see what I can do for you". I mean, sure, politeness counts but come ON! And so he asked me the standard ID questions, I answered and then he told me I was calling the wrong department. So he transferred me and I got to wait again while he put me through - wow, who uses ABBA for their hold music? Good stuff!

So then I'm on with this other lady who asks me the same questions in the same order. Apparently the other guy forgot to inform her that he'd already cleared my identity. She went over my last purchases and I did my best to calmly state that those purchases were valid and that my wallet had only been missing a couple hours at most (I hadn't been out of the house that long). She put a temporary block on my card and completed my call. Great, one card down, only took me 20 some odd minutes. Good times.

We decided to call off the search, we'd been everywhere it could possibly be and no dice. I sat on the subway home and grilled myself, knowing what a dumb mistake I'd made, thinking about what a pain in the ass it was going to be to try and get myself a new birth certificate and SIN card. I made my way home and began to call the rest of my VISA's. One by one they confirmed that my accounts would be frozen for 3-5 business days on the off chance my wallet would turn up.

I was right in the middle of a conversation with my last VISA when the beep came - another incoming call. "Name Witheld". I almost let it ring through, but something told me to answer it. I put the customer rep on hold and switched lines.

"Hello, Mr. Laraby?" "Yes?" "This is Constable Derek Saleh (sp?) from the Toronto Police, I have your wallet here."

And my heart jumped into my throat.

Apparently a man named Bill had been walking along and happened to see my wallet laying out in the middle of the road. He picked it up and his first reaction was to call the police.


They, in turn, called my bank and got my phone number.

The Constable took the time to drive over to my house and personally deliver it to me, watching as I went over everything to make sure it was there - it was. Every last thing accounted for and undisturbed.

I held the weight of it in my hand and asked him if he'd happened to have the contact information of the person who'd found it and he did.

I began this entry just after I'd gotten off the phone with him, thanking him profusely for his honesty. I wish I'd had something I could give him in return, some money or something to represent my appreciation for his good turn. Something to reward not just the action but the purity of thought behind it. Goodness deserves to be rewarded and though I don't have much to give monetarily, I certainly plan to pay it forward however I can.

Thank you very much to both Constable Derek Saleh (God, I hope I've got that right) and to Bill, the man whose first instinct was to do the right thing.


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