The cold rain continued to fall as I exited the Enmark store, where I had just gotten my morning coffee fix. I climbed into my old Ford truck and shook off the excess water from my coat. Setting my coffee into the cup holder with my right hand and sliding my wallet into my coat pocket with my left, I prepared to head toward Pinetucky meats to pick up the latest edition of The Crossroads Chronicle while I shopped for supper. First, though, I needed to visit the dumpsters out by the fairground. There was some garbage in the truck bed that sorely needed to be disposed of.
When I was just in front of Walmart on U.S. Highway 1, a flashing light on the dashboard caught my attention. The truck door wasn't shut all the way. Never slowing down, I opened the door fully and slammed it shut. Instead of latching, the door bounced back open as it met some resistance. I quickly slammed it again, and this time the door latched. I felt a sense of foreboding, that something may have fallen out, but a glance in the rearview mirror convinced me that nothing had.
Arriving at the dumpsters, I got out of the truck just long enough to toss the garbage into one of the green bins. As I left the lot, I noticed some stray pups outside of the gate, and I stopped once again to feed them. I keep extra dog and cat food in the truck to feed strays.
When I finally made it to Pinetucky Country Meats, I reached into my coat pocket for my wallet. It wasn't there. I got out of the truck and frantically searched down on the floor around the seat. When I saw my Open Carry Permit lying there just beside the door, panic began to creep in. That had been in my billfold. I had just sold a boat and motor, and I had over $700.00 in cash in my wallet. I usually do not carry cash, but I was planning to head to the bank to deposit it later in the day.
“My wallet must have fallen out in the middle of U.S. 1, right in front of Walmart!” That was 15 minutes earlier, and traffic had been heavy. Frantically I drove between Walmart and EnMark at least seven times, scanning the wet road for my wallet. It looked like I was out $700. Someone had probably just taken the money that I earned by selling a couple of my most prized possessions the day before. I had remorse over having to sell them already, and now I was just plain mad about losing the money. I hate to admit it, but my actual thought was, “God must really not like me.”
I had forgotten momentarily, in my panic, that I had also stopped by the trash dump. I knew it was a long shot, but I drove back and scanned the area around the dumpsters. No wallet, but the pups were happy to see me again. Since I had given up ever finding my billfold, I took the time to give the little beggars another can of food. I sat there in the truck, watching them eat for maybe 10 minutes because I was still fuming about the loss of my money. I needed to calm down. Watching puppies eat can be very soothing. (Unless you are me after losing $700.)
Very agitated and hating to ever give up, I drove back to Enmark. Being OCD as heck, I parked in the same exact spot that I had parked in earlier. I knew it was far-fetched, but I went into the store and asked if anyone turned in a wallet. "Nope," the cashier said. I gave up all hope of recovering the wallet or my money
now. My mood was exceedingly dark. I tried to slam the door on my way out, but the damper on the door didn't give me the satisfaction. That just made me angrier.
It had been almost an hour now since I had lost my wallet. As I pulled out of the parking space directly in front of the store's side entrance, I saw something. It had lain there for almost an hour in plain view. Obviously, run over multiple times and soaking wet, my wallet was right there. I had parked directly on top of it. For a moment, I was in disbelief but felt exceedingly lucky; I was ecstatic.
When I got out of the truck and retrieved my billfold, my short-lived elation came to an abrupt halt. There was no cash in the wallet. Someone had obviously picked up the billfold and took the money, then tossed it aside. 'So God, you are just teasing me now,' I thought. I should have been grateful that my credit cards and driver's license were still in it, but I was just even madder now, standing there in my pity pot.
I hopped back in the F-150, threw it in reverse, and stomped the accelerator, simultaneously throwing my cashless wallet into the other seat. I very nearly backed into a car pulling in behind me and was now angry at that driver. She had just derailed the outward expression of my tantrum. I actually stepped out of my truck to express my anger toward her. My sense returned, though. I realized it was me who was at fault. I simply looked at her and mouthed the words, I am sorry.
Now angry, and embarrassed at my behavior, I moved back toward my truck. Looking down to place my foot onto the running board, I noticed a little patch of green on the wet pavement. Leaning down to better see under the truck, I found seven very wet, one-hundred-dollar bills. Beside them lay a fortune cookie message that had been in my wallet for months. ‘Faith is the ability to trust beyond hope,” was its message.
I need to work on my personal relationship with God. He had just reminded me so. Too many times, I blame God for my misfortunes yet credit my blessings as mere luck. I see that both are only Him teaching me to be the man that I should be.
– Mike Braswell