It was Halloween and there was little to care about. I made a quick run to the corner store to get some last minute supplies for the complex Halloween festivities. I was standing around with some friends catching up on the week and reminiscing on last year’s Halloween shindig, when out of the corner of my eye I see a man approaching the gate. “He’s probably here with some kids for a little candy,” I thought to myself. “Is there a Brian here,” he says hesitantly. “Uhh, that’s me” I reply, guarded and unsure of who this stranger is asking for me. Instinctively I get defensive and begin analyzing him in every sense. His clothes, stature, tone, all run through my head. “Brian Gal-etto?” By the way he butchered my last name I could tell he had no idea who I was, which made me even more confused and curious. I began walking towards him. The gate separates us so as I approach him I am less anxious about what he wants from me. Plus, he’s an older man- I could easily take him if it came to that. When I ask what he wants with me, he holds up my most valuable possession: my wallet.
I had a debate with some friends a few months back on the value of a wallet and a smart phone. Which one do they consider more valuable? More importantly, which one are they more afraid to lose? For me, it was my wallet- hands down. The hassle of voiding your credit/debit cards, not to mention needing a new license, is a nightmare and one I prefer not to go through. So here is this man, holding my most valuable possession. The same possession I so carelessly dropped on my half block walk back to my apartment. Cash, cards, and comfort are represented in that small piece of leather. He eliminated the anxious hours I would have spent looking, hopelessly, for that small, black leather lifesaver.
“Holy cow” I say in a slow, surreal manner. He extends his arm and hands me the wallet. “Thank you,” I finally stammer, still perplexed and shocked by the last thirty seconds. Before I could even get my thoughts together, he was gone. I didn’t even open the gate to shake his hand, to hug him, or show any form of appreciation for his actions. In our brief encounter, he told me he found it in the middle of the street. He stopped his car, picked up the wallet, looked at the license, saw the address was just a few houses down, and boom, he appeared. An angel, a lifesaver- he represented the exact opposite of Halloween. There was nothing scary about him. Instead of representing death, he represented life, redemption, and most importantly, reinforced my belief in humanity. He went out of his way to do good for someone else. That someone- a complete stranger- was me. He didn’t know me, but it didn’t matter. He saw a chance to do the right thing, and he seized the moment. He doesn’t know how much that meant to me, nor will he ever know. He’ll never read this; never understand how grateful I am to him for stopping to help a careless young man like me. The beautiful thing is I can bet he did it expecting nothing in return. Just doing something he would want done for him if he were in that situation. What goes around comes around.
As I walk back to my friends and conversation, they begin busting my chops, “must have been all of those socks you collected for the homeless. Good karma for you.” I’m not sure if I believe that, but I do think there are good people out there looking out for one another. This man, whoever he was, reinforced that belief.
A Happy Halloween indeed.