Which isn't to say I didn't have fun reading them - I had a target of one book a day, as my cousins who left for the USA bequeathed their entire collection of both series to me and my sister. She never got into them (like most teenagers in her day, she latched on to Sweet Valley High) so I practically devoured both series on my own.
Today, I would have a mystery of my own, hence the title of the post.
Having come from an early morning training with a client, I stopped by the ATM machine to withdraw some money to settle some bills. Travel is horrendous in Makati once 8AM kicks in, unfortunately that was the exact time I was on the road (did I mention I met my client really early?) so I decided to stop by the convenience store of a gas station to let the rush hour pass by.
I got my goodies (the largest bottled water they had plus a sandwich) and paid at the counter. Unfortunately for the cashier, I withdrew thousand-peso bills so I didn't have "smaller change". After getting the change, I got my stuff and stayed at one of the available seats.
Little did I know that my wallet fell from my bag, onto the floor.
(Courtesy of global.rakuten.com)
All of this was witnessed by a child of not more than 10 years old, who probably was an only child, the way he was bibo (can't find the exact English translation of this that captures the thought perfectly) with strangers, used to playing with himself, using various voices for his imaginary scenarios, and running around playing hide-and-seek, all by his lonesome. (His dad and mom were busy discussing something in earnest, leaving the child free to do as he pleased.)
I did not even notice him being able to hide under my table to get my wallet from the floor.
I left the store, and while driving, I started to think of when I had to renew my driver's license, so I opened my bag to see the date on the card. The traffic was at a standstill so I could actually fry an egg by the side of the road and I'd be finishing the egg before the car would even move an inch. That was the only time I became cognizant of my missng wallet.
I began spewing invectives inside the car, and I must have looked ridiculous because I could see a couple of passengers in the bus beside me pointing at me. It's difficult to stay calm and composed in immovable traffic, while the thought of all my identification, credit and ATM cards were possibly being utilized by some thief at this very moment? I've heard the stories of how within 30 minutes of a credit card theft, the card was already maxed out and used to buy appliances.
It was an eternity before I was able to loop back to the convenience store. I parked the car and ran inside to look at the area I was seated in, which was obviously already cleaned up. So I approached the guy mopping the floor, and he said he did not see any wallet. We both went to the counter to confirm if anyone had left a lost wallet, and unfortunately, no one did. The cleaner thought of the surveillance camera and when we all looked up at the screen, it tunrs out they decided to close it that very day.
Great, I thought. Now I have to start calling the card companies, begin lining up for a lost license, etc. I also called Arthur before beginning the calls of frustration to the other parties, and he just chalked it up to "that's the way it is".
I was already dialling the number in the car for the credit card company when I saw the guard running towards me, in an obviously happy/excited combo. I knew right then and there that the wallet had been found.
As it turned out, the little boy's family left as soon as I also left, and the mom was wondering why her bag felt a little heavy. The little boy had actually also placed the wallet inside her large handbag without her knowing; they were already on a bus to the opposite direction I was headed when she discovered the wallet. Her husband had to go to work so she went back with her son to the convenience store to drop it off, after getting the information from the boy of where he found the wallet.
I thanked her profusely and wanted to meet the little boy; his mom said he was embarrassed and was hiding while I was talking with her. She apologized on his behalf, and that, in her defense, he's always been, uhm, "creative", with how to amuse himself as an only child, and that he never meant to steal or cause other people inconvenience.
I was just so happy that I did not need to reapply for new cards, I gave her a small reward, and just chalked it up to a wonderful day where people still valued honesty.
And parents who teach their kids by example.
That's what I got out of the whole exercise.