a young woman's wallet is returned with the cash intact

The Wallet Returned With All Its Cash Intact

It really does happen

We often say the stories here on Good Turns can be anything from the tip of a lifetime to the wallet returned with all its cash and credit cards intact. But while we’ve written about the $10,000 tip, we’ve never actually run a story about a lost wallet that gets back to its owner without any of its contents going missing.

That’s exactly what happened to Elise Lasko a few years ago, however, when she was on her way to work as an artist’s model in Memphis when the car in front of her stopped short. Lasko jammed on the breaks, but when she checked her rear-view mirror, she saw a church van headed her way. “I knew there was no way he was going to be able to stop,” she told Good Turns recently. “He hit my car from behind, so we pulled over and got out of the car.”

“When I picked it up, everything was in it. That’s pretty rare.”

Lasko found herself in a stressful situation. The part of Memphis she’d been passing through was “not very safe,” she says. Her dog, which had been in the car with her, bolted when she got out to talk to the driver of the van, and she had to wind her way through stopped traffic to retrieve him. On top of everything, the driver of the van was “not very apologetic,” Lasko says. “He was being evasive. He was on the church staff, so he didn’t really give me his own insurance information. He gave me the church’s phone number, and I got the license plate number, but it was a very frustrating experience because he didn’t apologize and he wasn’t taking any personal action.”

Lasko was understandably upset. But her car was drivable, so she made her way to the artist’s studio where she was working as a model. “When I got there I was really shaken up,” she recalls. “He made sure I was okay, and that my dog was okay. He had dogs of his own that he kept in his studio, so I could have my dog at work, which was nice. He looked at my car and told me I should probably contact my insurance. He was a very logical presence and said, ‘It’s going to be fine, you’re going to take care of it, it’s not the end of the world.’ It was very comforting to me, so I totally forgot about it.”

But when Lasko went out later to meet some friends, it occurred to her that her wallet was missing. “It took me about five hours to realize I didn’t have my wallet. At the time, I had about $200 in cash in there, as well as various credit cards and stuff like that. I traced back to the last time I used it, which was when we were exchanging insurance information. I had taken the wallet out of my purse, had taken out the insurance card, and had set the wallet on top of the car. I was still in shock because he had messed up my car.” In her shaken state, Lasko had driven off with the wallet still on top of the car.

Though she searched everywhere—including going back to the scene of the accident—the wallet would not be found. Three days passed. “I was about to go get a new driver’s license,” Lasko says. But then she got a call from the manager of the apartment complex she lived in. “He called and told me someone had turned in a wallet at the front desk. They had opened up the wallet to see where I lived and return it, and when I picked it up, everything was in it. That’s pretty rare. Where I lost it is not a nice neighborhood, so it was doubly surprising that nothing had been taken out. And whoever returned it never identified themselves or told the manager their name.”

The story of Lasko’s lost wallet begins with an unexpected jolt and a less than charitable church employee, but continues with a helping hand from a friend and employer, and a timely good turn from an anonymous samaritan as well—a combination that allows her story to have a happy ending, and which gives us a perfect example of the type of small kindness that, along with all the grander gestures, we love to celebrate here at Good Turns.

(Painting of Elise Lasko by Adam Bennet Shaw)

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