Christmas throughout the World

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I found a wallet in the middle of the street the day I was leaving to drive up to Chicago for Christmas. At first, I drove by it, but thought I should go back. It had no money, but had a driver’s license, credit cards and a student ID from University of Arkansas Pine Bluff. I figured there wasn’t anyway I could find out the phone number to the guy, so I decided to drive across town and give it to him.

His address was at an apartment complex in West Topeka. I found the apartment, knocked, and no one answered. I could here people in the adjoining unit, so I knocked on their door. A Hispanic man answered the door and asked me if he could help me. I told him I had found a wallet and was wondering if he knew his neighbor. He told me he didn’t know who lived there. I thought that was weird, since their doors were virtually connected. So, I opened up the wallet and asked the man if he could look at the driver’s license and tell me if that was the man that lived there. He was apprehensive, but took the billfold and looked. In the background, I could see into the apartment and it was completely full of stuff. Every flat space was covered with things. There was an older woman speaking to the man in loud Spanish.

The man looked at the driver’s license and then seemed to relax some. I could tell by his facial expression that he wasn’t on guard. He said that it was his neighbor and that he wasn’t home, had left for the holidays, he thought. He suggested that I leave the wallet with him and he would give it to him. I felt a little weird about that, but knew I was driving out of town for a few days and that it would probably work out okay.

Anyway, I thought about the encounter on the 9 hour drive up to Chicago from Topeka. I still had a bit of uneasiness about leaving the wallet. I thought that maybe I should have just put a note underneath the guys door with my phone number on it and he could call. After the Hispanic guy lightened up, I felt pretty sure that he would give his neighbor back his wallet, but wasn’t positive.

Then I thought about missing out of the gratitude of returning the man’s wallet. I’m almost embarrassed to say it. I would have really liked to give the wallet back to the owner and receive the thanks for returning it. It seems so trivial.

I’m not sure why nowadays, people don’t seem to trust each other so much. The Hispanic man didn’t trust me when I knocked on his door. Then, I had to talk to him for a little while before I felt comfortable enough to trust him with the wallet. And then on top of it all, I feel “cheated” out of receiving gratitude for something that should be expected. It is all wrong.

Right now, we’re arguing between each other whether it is better for Americans to have the right to carry around assault rifles or if it’s better for society to not have them around. Man, what problems we have as group.

I don’t leave a small footprint on this planet. No Americans do. I drove my van 600 miles to spend Christmas with Trudi’s mom. And 600 miles back. We all drive or fly unbelievable distances to ride our bikes around in circles. It is a super extravagance. I would venture to say that the majority of the population of this planet has never been 600 miles from where they were born. In China, there are only 8 automobiles per 100 people. In Afghanistan there are two. It’s hard venturing very far from where you live by walking. In the US there are 81 per 100 people. We have more than we need. We have more of everything than we truly need. But, we all want more. Always more.

Anyway, since today is Christmas, I think we should all be thankful for the hands we were dealt being born in the United States. If only if all of us could realize how lucky we were from the get go, then maybe we would be more generous and understanding of those people throughout the world with much less. Less of everything. Food, medicine, safety, dreams, nearly all things. It could very easily be us.

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas.

The Floyd Shirt.

12 thoughts on “Christmas throughout the World

  1. Rsteve

    Steve the reason you wanted to see the guy whose wallet you found is that it does feel good to do nice things for people. There’s nothing wrong with you wanting to feel good. About the USA yes we are lucky but some shit needs to change here or we are all in big trouble. Happy hollidaze from Colorado

  2. sb

    Merry Christmas to you and yours Steve! And THANKS for sharing your thoughts and life with us all year.

  3. Bernd Faust

    Steve, Frohe Weihnachten, Felix Navidad, Merry Christmas.
    To receive a thank you from the guy who lost the wallet was your underlaying thought. #1 was probably you want to make sure he gets it. You giving it to him was for sure, the neighbor you are unsure of so…
    Still great thoughts…
    Lots of people have less, but lots of people are also happier..material possessions do not really make one happy.
    Once again Frohe Weihnachten

  4. BD

    I am sure he will come home to an unexpected post christmas gift from his neighbor and get something more from it. Way to bring folks together. Thansk for the inter thoughts. Merry Christmas!

  5. jim robinson

    Thanks sincerely for a year of posts Steve — I enjoy reading your perspective.
    Best for riding in 2013. Keep returning those wallets.

  6. Joe Saling

    Steve, I found a wallet riding a few years ago. Saw a dollar and stopped to pick it up. By the time I was done I had $180! Then I got a little greedy and kept looking. It was then I found the wallet under some leaves. It had the usual stuff, the US$ were on the street and it had some sort of Asian $ in it. I went to the address on the license and the guy came to the door, said “I wondered where that was”, took it and closed the door! No thank you, kiss my ass or anything. I was pissed because I, like you, was looking for that “feel good” deal returning something valuable to someone. Unfortunately, I might give it some additional thought if I am faced with a similar situation in the future.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, Trudy and Chris. See you in Louisville. We are off to Anguilla, BWI for the first two weeks of Jan. My final tuneup for the worlds!


  7. Paul


    hope the socks are keeping you warm, – thanks for the shout out on the blog.

    There is a great Seinfeld episode where George puts a tip in the tip jar, but right as he does it the guy turns around and doesn’t see it. Great episode, and happens to us all. Does altruism even truly exist? who knows. you are one of the good ones, keep it up.


  8. Bernd Faust

    Joe, Asian people are somewhat very different in their ways. A friend of mine who passed away tought English at 2 different colleges in China north and south for a period of 3 years….he thought they somehow don’t care much or say little and are very rude on a daily base living….different culture
    my 2 cents
    Viel Spass im Urlaub!

  9. Doug Long

    A number of years ago I was returning while on a training ride to a community that is about 25 miles away. I glanced down just in time to see a wallet and stopped and picked it up. There was a little over $100 in cash, credit cards, etc,,, and then I pulled out the drivers license and I was staring at the face of the father of our 103 pound wrestler. ( I was a wrestling coach.) I finished the ride and gave Wayne a call tell let him know I had found his wallet.
    You talk about weird fate? They had stopped to get gas at the Casey’s in that community and Wayne had evidently rested the wallet on the roof of the car and then drove off. Good karma will follow good deeds.

    Long rides and long drives- seems like the older I get the more my mind wanders and I find myself in deep reflection as the mile posts click by. 600 miles is a long time to reflect.

    Steve, Trudi, Bro, and all the Topeka posse: Hope you had a merry Christmas and enjoy the remainder of the holiday season.

    I’m loading the bikes and heading to KC today for Boxing Day Cross. I figure it might give me an insight to what nats may be like. I just hope someone else shows up. Weather service is showing 12 degrees in KC and 19 at Madison, Wisc. Go figure!

  10. Bryan

    It’s not that unusual in apartment complexes to NOT know your neigbhor. Many times the turnover is a very high rate and you just don’t get to know them before they leave. One of my neighbors left after several months, but I don’t know what they looked like. They kept their blinds close, and never used their front door. They always went in/out their back door, whereas I was the opposite. I left in the morning before it looked like they were awake and they were not yet home when I returned home in the evenings.

    It’s not like when I had a house in Texas. I lived there for nine years. Both of my neighbors on either side lived in that neighborhood even longer. We all knew each other very well.

  11. Rod Lake

    I stopped to pick up a wallet one time during a ride in Topeka. As soon as I bent down to pick it up—whoooose, there it went, sliding along the ground. That’s when I heard the distinct giggling of grade school aged boys. Got me.


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