August… So many words spring to mind at just the mention of this month. For me, as the mother of a school-age child, it represents the start of the next school year (do you hear angels singing in the background? Just me?) It’s not that I don’t enjoy the slower pace of summer and the extra time with my son. It’s the perpetual “I’m bored!” and the unremitting desire of children to be entertained every minute of the day that I despise. I am eternally thankful for grandparents, summer camps, and summer child care during the seemingly incessant months of June and July.
But upon the arrival of August 1, parents begin to see the light at end of the tunnel. We begin to look fondly at our children’s sticky faces. Outings to the pool and swimming holes are more enjoyable. The messes left behind from Popsicles and juice boxes no longer trigger a mother into a vortex of hysterics and fits of convulsive rage.
However, along with the commencement of school comes four of the most dreaded words for parents: back to school shopping. Parents embark on great expeditions to multiple shopping locations in search of the specific type of glue stick, the correct pencils, and the exact size of notebook mentioned on the school supply list.
After conquering the school supply list, the shopping for accouterments and accessories begins. This often results in war between parent and child; the child demanding a certain brand or style of clothing, and the parent scoffing at the price or process to obtain such items. After hours of shopping in high temperatures and battling cantankerous crowds, a compromise is made. Unfortunately, the draining of the parents bank account is usually an unavoidable casualty.
With my son going into second grade, I too am part of the frenzied aggregation of shoppers. One afternoon I set off in search of the items catalogued on my son’s supply list. I barely secured a parking space on the outskirts of the parking lot and made my way to the store’s entrance. Halfway there, I spotted a brown leather wallet on the ground. I picked up the wallet, carried it with me into the store and straight to the customer service desk.
“Can I help you?” asked the store employee.
“Yes, ma’am, I found this wallet in the parking lot and wanted to turn it in,” I told her.
She took the leather wallet from my hand and tossed it into a large plastic bin containing random items.
“Is that the lost and found?” I asked.
The employee looked at me with annoyed eyes. “Um, yeah I guess.”
I had an uneasy feeling about leaving the wallet there but was unsure what else I could do. I left the customer service station and started my shopping. After crossing off all of the items that could be purchased from that particular store, my mind wandered back to the wallet. I would be a nervous wreck if I had lost my purse. After purchasing my basket full of supplies, I returned to the customer service desk. The same employee was standing at the front.
“Hi, I turned in a wallet I found in the parking lot earlier. Do you know if anyone has claimed it yet?”
The employee looked at me with the same annoyed stare.
“No,” she stated.
“Well can you check to see if there is a driver’s license in it? Maybe I can take it to the address on the license.”
The girl turned around, rummaged in the large white bin and retrieved the wallet. She handed it to me without checking it for a driver’s license. She moved on to the customer behind me. My eyes widened at her briskness, but I just turned around and exited the store.
Once I was inside my car, I opened the wallet and checked the driver’s license. It belonged to a middle aged man named Robert. It had his address listed so I started driving in that direction.
I located the house, pulled into the driveway and hoped Robert had put his current address on file. I walked down the winding sidewalk to the front door, passing well groomed shrubbery and meticulous flower beds. I pushed the doorbell and a lovely chime rang out inside the house. I heard footsteps approaching and the door swung open. A barefoot teenaged boy in swim trunks and long stringy hair looked at me and shouted over his shoulder “Dad! There’s a hot old lady at the door for you!” And with that he turned around and walked off leaving me standing at the doorstep with the door flung wide open. I wasn’t sure how I felt about his backhanded compliment… “I’m not THAT old…” I said, knowing no one could hear me.
After about 10 awkward seconds, a man who’s face matched the one on the driver’s license came to the door.
“Hi, can I help you?” He asked.
“Yes, I found your wallet in a parking lot and I’m just here to return it to you.” I handed him the wallet and explained the situation at the customer service desk along with my doubts that he would find it in their makeshift lost and found.
“Thank you so much,” he said. “I just realized I had lost it a few minutes ago and was about to call and cancel all my cards. I went to get my son’s school supply shopping done and I must have dropped it when I was putting my bags in the car.”
He thanked me again. I insisted it was no problem and said I would want someone to do the same for me.
Once I got back into my car, I pulled my visor mirror down and looked at myself in the mirror. “Well, at least you’re not an ugly old lady!” I said to my reflection and gave myself a wink.