I'm about to leave the house on my way to the airport and when I pat my jacket pocket to make sure I've got my wallet, it's not there.
Don't panic, I tell myself -- it's somewhere in the house.
Only, it isn't.
My guts go into a horrible free-fall and my shoulders sag. I am screwed. I can't go to JFK without my wallet. I can't go anywhere without my wallet.
And just the thought of calling those 800 numbers to cancel my cards, and following endless prompts before finally being connected to a trainee in Bombay who asks me to please hold and enjoy the sitar music while he seeks his supervisor...oh boy.
The clock, as they say, is ticking. I remember something my mother used to say when I was a kid, and couldn't find one of my toys:
"Pray to St. Anthony! He'll help you find it!"
Well, it's been a long time since I prayed to St. Anthony, and he probably wouldn't recognize me after all these years, so I can't ask him for help. Anyway, he's got a big weekend ahead, what with all those kids praying for him to help them find hidden Easter eggs.
I'm going to miss my flight unless my wallet turns up, but who ever heard of a wallet turning up?
Suddenly it hits me -- I have! When I was a New York Post reporter I must have written half a dozen lost wallet stories, most of them containing the phrase "big-hearted cabbie."
That's because it was usually a cab driver returning a wallet to an out-of-town visitor who got a little flustered on his first trip to New York City, and dropped his wallet while leaving the cab.
What the hell, I figure -- maybe I'm a miracle story waiting to happen.
So with nothing to lose, I re-trace my steps to the last place I remember using my wallet -- Rocco's Pastry shop on Bleecker Street, where I bought some cookies for my wife.
The place is jumping. Expecting nothing, I go to the counter and ask Franco, who's worked there since the earth cooled, if anybody has found a wallet. He beckons for a waitress to come over.
"Did you find a wallet?" he asks.
"Yes," she replies, turning to me. "Are you Charlie?"
Good Lord. "Uh-huh."
She hands me my wallet, which is totally intact -- right down to the five measly single dollar bills in it.
I am numb with joy and shock. I feel as if I've just set down an anvil.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" I gush, while flamboyantly stuffing that five bucks into the tip jar.
So now I'm at the airport, with the wallet safely tucked in my jacket pocket. I keep patting it, to make sure it's there.
Something else is there, too, something I feared I'd lost long ago. My faith in humanity.
Charlie Carillo is a novelist and a producer for the TV show "Inside Edition." His website is www.charliecarillo.com
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