Pizza Pay Back

pizza, margharita pizzaThursday night is pizza night. I begin to salivate when I call ahead and order our margherita pizza. With roasted red peppers. And spinach.

As my guy and I prepare to pick up the almost-ready pizza pie, his voice hitches up a notch as he admits, I can’t find my wallet.”

Turns out, he’s been searching for it since I made the call 15 minutes ago.

In our house, I’m the one who loses things (like keys and glasses, of course, and my wits from time to time). My guy is methodical and organized and never loses anything.

So I panic a bit. We search through all the places we search when I lose something: closets, coat pockets, every corner of the car, kitchen drawers and bedroom dresser drawers, counter tops.

No wallet.

We dig deeper, into trash bags and garbage cans and, getting desperate, even in the potted plants.

No wallet.

I try to hypnotize him. “Close your eyes. You’re getting sleepy. Now, retrace your routes. Where did you last use your wallet?”

The hardware store, two hours ago, he remembers. I call and talk to the manager. My panic has increased commensurate to the calmness of my guy.

The store manager puts me on hold as he looks through their “lost & found” drawer and then talks to all the other clerks.

No wallet.

It’s been an hour, and my guy announces the next most important task. “Let’s get the pizza.”

Is he kidding? What about his wallet?

By the time we’ve returned home, it’s 8:30 p.m. We’re exhausted and famished. He pours the Chianti. I worry. Why hasn’t my guy begun canceling all of his business and personal credit cards? They’re all in that wallet, as well as his driver’s license. Identity theft!Chianti, wine

We sit down with a microwaved slice and a glass of red. Just as we take our first bite and sip, the doorbell rings.

“Fudge!” my guy says. (Well, not exactly that word. You do not interrupt him when he’s eating pizza.)

I stay seated while he answers the door. I hear a hesitant voice ask him in halting English, “You live here?”

Hoping my guy doesn’t answer the obvious in a snarky tone, I stand in the hallway. A dark-haired man, 50ish, waits for the answer and for some proof. “Who are you?” the man asks more specifically.  

My guy notices his wallet in the man’s hands so reveals his name. The man’s face breaks out with a smile so sunny it brightens the starless night, and then he hands over the wallet.

I jump out to the front stoop and exclaim loudly, “Thank you!! Where did you find this?” I notice then a woman standing yards away near the beat-up dark blue car that is parked in our driveway.

“That’s my wife,” the man says, seeing my glance. “We were driving on N——- Road and saw the wallet on the street.”

That’s a busy road half a mile from our house.

I address the wife. “How wonderful of you! Do you live near here?” She shifts her gaze away from me and closes herself in like a turtle into her shell. I realize I’ve asked a question she’s afraid to answer.

The man continues, “I stop and retrieve the wallet. Some stranger did that for me once, and I must pay it back.” He searches my face, asking silently if that is the right expression.

“You wanted to pay it forward!” I exclaim. He smiles, relieved. I want to hug him, but I respect the reserve in both him and his wife.

“I only look in wallet for address, I promise!” he adds. “I take no money.” Now he’s fearful.

“No money was in there!” my guy assures him before he turns and looks at me contritely. “I kind of remember putting the wallet on the car roof while I placed my briefcase and shopping bags in the back seat. I guess I forgot about it.”

Then my guy hesitates, and I know what he’s thinking. Perhaps this man would like a reward of some kind. “Please, wait here, I’ll be right back,” he says.

But the other man stops him immediately. “No! I want nothing. I am so glad I found you.”

We all shake hands, smiling. His wife is huddled in their car, and I imagine that she had begged her husband to not do this. To not expose them to questions.

But the man wants to pay it forward.

My guy and I return to our wine and our pizza and toast all the good people out there. To the many who are sweet and just and kind.

Despite their fear of being told that they don’t belong.

May we all pay it forward with acceptance, kindness, and compassion for everyone.

109 thoughts on “Pizza Pay Back

  1. Pizza, a truly HAPPY MEAL. I make my own and one of the favourites is carmelized onions with goat cheese or feta… Imagine the possibilities.

  2. Such a wonderful sunshine story, I quite fall in love with the couple who
    brought back the wallet. There are indeed so many good and caring
    people out there.
    The desperate search by you and your guy really is so funny.
    Thanks for this morning post

    • I think someone could have made a black and white silent film, sped up, to show the humor in that ‘desperate search,’ as you so aptly call it, Miriam. And then, the deep kindness of strangers at our door. These are the simplicities of life that count, yes?

  3. Ahhh good pizza! That is something we really miss here in Sri Lanka! Yum!

    What a heartwarming story. Believe it or not, leaving a wallet on the roof of a car is quite common. Usually happens while filling up at the gas station. 🙂

    Here’s to kindness and paying it forward!


    • 🙂 Sounds as if you speak from experience, Peta, on the frequency of leaving wallets behind. I have left cups of tea on top of cars, and once a full notebook of stories, never to be restored. ;-0
      But kindness – now that can never be left behind. Kindness stays with us forever. ❤

  4. I’m flying high over the North Atlantic and just decided to try the airline’s internet access. Got on the web and thought I’d take a look at today’s installment of RoughWighting. Imagine my surprise when I saw the topic and read through the post. Good job Pam, even though I’m a bit embarrassed over losing the wallet in the first place. Your Guy

  5. What a wonderful story. We need these stories in the midst of all the bad stuff we hear lately. Kindness is everywhere. So glad you got the wallet back before cancelling everything. My bag was stolen in a shopping mall in Barcelona a few years ago. A lady found it in the parking lot, under a car. She found the card of the place we were staying at inside and took it back to the hotel. All that was missing was my camera and my red lipstick!!!

    • That must have been one hot tube of red lipstick! Yes-I love hearing all the stories of people who go out of their way to help return lost items. How wonderful is it to know that the majority of us out there are caring giving people? Unfortunately, these are not the kinds of stories that “sell” newspapers. Thus, we have blogs!! 😁

  6. Despite what we see on the news, there is kindness all around, we just have to take time to notice. Recently, my mother left a very expensive watch in a dressing room at our local mall. Once home, my father called the store and someone had turned it in.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this story, Pam. We need to be reminded that there are good people in the world.
    I imagine your pizza tasted extra good after that. (I love pizza!) 🙂

  8. Too often we focus on the bad things and people in the world, but there are so many amazingly good things and people to focus on instead. Great story and now I want pizza (pizza for breakfast works, right?).
    Hope this weekend treats you kindly.

    • Pizza works for breakfast lunch and dinner. And it’s great for snack too! 🙃 The same with kindness, which thankfully is out there morning noon and night-sometimes we just need to give it more attention than the nasty stuff that’s out there. ❤️

    • Ha ha – thanks for the laugh. Yes, I have come up with some good stories based on missing keys, glasses, cell phones, and now a wallet. Hmmmm, I wonder what I’ll lose next? 😳

  9. What a lovely, uplifting story! As for the pizza, YUM! My kids brought over a gigantic, and I do mean gigantic, New York style pizza on Tuesday night. One slice was a full meal. I am addicted to pizza, unfortunately for my waist line.

    • Pizza IS addictive. But I figure all the vitamins in the tomatoes and spinach and the protein in the cheese make pizza an extremely healthy meal. (Oh, and the fiber in the crust, too, of course!) 🍕

  10. as you so often do, you touch a very familiar place in the heart and soul. Such good and gracious Good Samaritans — “playing it forward,” maybe, or perhaps more likely a decent, moral, good-willed couple. Gracious story of graciousness, but was/is the undercurrent of their fear, suspicion, and reluctance not a reflection of the present day terrors visited upon those who come to this land-of-plenty without papers and are subjected to the venom and hunt of the Administration and its armed force? A beautiful story, Pam, with a subtle reminder of the emotions and realities present in America and daily face by the proud, innocent, non-violent, hard-working, make a life for themselves people trying to get away from the corruption and violence and greed of their homelands– sad, tragic, unconscionable.

    • Yet, despite all that, this couple still wanted to pay it forward with strangers who they had no idea which side of the political fence they sat on. That is astounding and an act of faith to me.

  11. I want to cry with joy reading this wonderful story. These days there seems to be so much hate towards those who have come to a country that they only want to do well in. This wonderful and selfless act is an example of how much good comes with embracing diversity. The story made my day and I am sure yours too. Beautiful.

    • Thank you for your enthusiastic response, Sue. And I know how you have worked with and helped people who come from difficult situations to your beautiful country to find a safe and peaceful place to live. May we all learn to have open arms and hearts for all.

  12. What a great story and yet it broke my heart that these good-hearted people were so fearful. I wish them the very best and hope they are met again and again with kindness. And this is a familiar story as my husband leaves his wallet on the truck bumper. So far so good, it’s always been returned to us by some good samaritan.

    • When I meet people like the ones who returned the wallet, I truly hope that karma really lives. In fact, your husband must have good karma since his wallet is always returned. I shared his bumper loss with my guy and he gave a thumbs up. 👍😏😂

  13. I am amazed how you can turn such a worrisome incident into a lovely story with a dash of humour. Goes well with your Pizza!! Pamela you are a true story teller! I love the kind people who still think of helping the strangers…reassuring that goodness is alive!
    This reminds me of another incident, which happened with my sister-in-law in an alien country when she kept her bag at the top of the cab and lost it, with even her passport in it and then had to face…you can imagine all the hardships…above all the wrath of her hubby!! 🙂

    • Oh noooo! I feel so badly for your sister-in-law in losing her bag with her passport. I can’t even imagine how much trouble she was in. Yes, we all need a sense of humor with our pizza and our tendency to lose things. Thank the spirit for the kindness of strangers. ❤️

  14. Such a beautiful story. I love that there are such honest and trustworthy people out there that only want to do the right thing. And, isn’t it interesting how quickly we judge, based on appearances. I’m so glad you shared this story. It made my day.

    The Irma Brombeck contest is coming up in the winter of 2018. Hope you enter. Start thinking about it now.

    • Sometimes I think the more humble people are, and the less they have, the kinder they are to strangers. Perhaps they have an empathy that those who have too much don’t feel.
      Thanks for reminding me of a Irma Brombeck contest-I love how you are pushing me along in this one. I will submit in 2018! 🤓
      Oh, and how fun-as I’m typing this I see you have just tweeted! I love coincidences like this. The world works in mysterious ways.

  15. Your story made my day. So wonderful and I’m assuming that he was a foreigner. I hope that he and his wife will be blessed with goodness and mercy be allowed to continue to make a home in America. We need these wonderful folks who are so honest and want nothing in return.

  16. Love it!! What wonderfully kind people. I bet the pizza tasted even better when you all went back to it and that your hubby was glad for that interruption! 🙂

  17. Here’s to paying it forward and good pizza. My guy lost his wallet in a parking lot and a kind soul returned it to the store. When I was in Germany this last April a young girl on drugs was begging for money in a streetcar in Frankfurt. One young girl pulled out her lunch sandwich and gave it to her. Another girl pulled out a candy bar and gave it to her. Those acts of kindness make my eyes tearful. We all need more stories like this.

  18. What a wonderful story, Pam! I’m so glad there are still honest and giving people out there. This is a story that should make the front pages of the newspaper instead of all those yucky ones 😀

    • We wanted to invite them in for pizza but could tell they would not be comfortable. May we wish for days in which strangers can quickly become friends and we can all share pizza. 🍕

  19. An act of kindness is just as easy as an act of harm. Before we make a choice between the two options, we must decide which option brings greater peace to our heart. Thinking in these terms may guide people to follow a path that produces greater VALUE to their own lives.
    Glad the wallet was found especially in this manner.

  20. Love stories like this. I left my purse in a shopping cart in a Wal-Mart parking lot once. I realized it about a mile down the road. I turned around immediately and went back. No purse! No one turned it in and it was nowhere to be found. I panicked.. called credit cards, bank, cried..called husband..cried some more. Called the police and filled out a report and cried again. Then about 2 hours later I got a phone call from the sweetest lady. She and her husband had found my purse but they were afraid to turn it into lost and found because there was cash in my wallet. So they did their shopping and waited until they got home to call me. I cried again..of course! That was when I took all sentimental things out of my purse, pics etc. I was so blessed but it made me very conscientious of irreplaceable items. I’m glad he got his wallet back. I have done things like that as well.. it strengthens my belief in Karma! What goes around comes around! 😉

    • What an amazing story, Courtney! If only we had stronger faith in the goodness in others, perhaps we wouldn’t be so fearful in so many ways. I’m glad you got your purse back. Here is to kind karma forever! 🙏

  21. Oh, wow, Pam … you said a lot here without “saying it.” I find myself riding that line continually as a blogger. Kudos.

    Yes, wonderful people. How awful that they felt fearful of being known, rather than feeling they could come right in and join you for some pizza and wine.

    I recently lost my wallet as well. Around midnight, I got a call from the local police department saying it had been turned in. I came to retrieve it, expecting it to have been ransacked. No such thing. Everything was right in place.

    How nice to focus on what is right with the world!

    • Thanks for the writing compliment, Erik. I stress always the SHOW don’t TELL mantra to myself and my creative writing students. Easier said than done, for sure. You add to that by saying SHOW without saying. I didn’t want to make this a political post. Just a humanistic one.
      Wallets are strange objects, aren’t they? They seem to enjoy disappearing on us, giving us little anxiety attacks, and then reappearing with a lesson. Hmmmmm. 🙂

  22. Oh my goodness, my eyes are watering down my face at the pool and my grandson looked at me, “Are you okay, Nana?” Such a sweet and loving post, sharing with us a positive and exemplary story. Loved this so very much, Pam. 🙌 💞 and the circle (as the world) is complete once again.

    • I really like the scene of you crying at the pool – good tears – and your grandson noticing the ‘water coming down your face.’ Empathetic grandson! What I like most about the scene though is your response to the kindness of strangers. May we keep circling the world with kindness and love for all. xoxo

      • Yes, so much depends on each of making the circle complete, leaving the ones who are independent from the love, kindness and best interests of others outside and not worrying what they are up to!
        I can tell you have raised already aware child and now, your grandchildren are making an impact! Thank you for noticing my grandson’s sincerity, Pam. hugs xo

  23. What a sweet and wonderful (and important!) story.

    In fact, the story is so sweet and wonderful (and important!), I will not even *think* about criticizing you for microwaving pizza.

    Because, well, that is ridiculous.

  24. What a beautiful story of paying it forward .. There are so many GOOD people out there, its such a shame the world media only concentrates upon the few that are bad, whom we then think the whole world is made up of..
    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story.. And what a delightful end as your husband was given his wallet back this way..
    May we all learn from this, and start to pay it forward more often..
    ❤ Hugs Sue

  25. Pam, what a wonderfully uplifting and upbeat story…I couldn’t help but start smiling as the doorbell rang and guessed what was about to happen.😀 It does take guts to return something like that, particularly when you don’t know who lives there and what reception you will face. This has put me in such a good mood and I can only agree wholeheartedly with your final words:

    ‘May we all pay it forward with acceptance, kindness, and compassion for everyone.’ ❤️

    PS. Hope you got to enjoy the last of pizza as your panic subsided and reassured all was okay. After years of research, I’ve found whilst eating pizza is the time most likely the doorbell will ring for one reason or another! hugs xx

    • Ha ha. Yes, pizza does encourage the doorbell to ring, doesn’t it? In this case, we are so glad it did, and that we answered the door, if not with a huge smile, at least with a quizzical expression. I can’t even imagine the courage it took for this man to return my guy’s wallet. I think he gets DOUBLE good karma for that. xoxo

  26. My children have both been in this position and did not hesitate to return the wallets and all the cash to their rightful owners. I think the younger generation is more civic-minded than we ever were, and don’t even think twice about doing the right thing. Gives me hope for the future.

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