Beyond the Cover

by Ed Roberts
Texas, USA

In the late 1960s, when we lived in California, my wife went grocery shopping one payday. She had cashed both of our paychecks at the store and bought a few groceries. When she got home, she realized that she had left her billfold in the shopping cart when she put the groceries in the car.

Beyond the CoverWe went back and searched, checked with lost and found, and asked several people if they had seen it. No one had. We searched all of the baskets in the parking lot. When my wife tells the story, she says that I was pretty grumpy that day.

We had moved from a trailer park into a house a few months before, and the folks who were renting the mobile home were behind on their rent. So I went there to try to talk them out of some money to get us by. It was two weeks until the next paycheck, and we were broke. But they were broke, too.

When I came out of the mobile home, I saw a young man with long hair, a knapsack, sandals, and a guitar strapped across his back. He was talking with my wife, who was sitting in the car.

Back in those days, she changed the color of her hair about twice a month. This particular day she happened to be a blonde, which was not the color of her hair on her driver’s license. He asked her about the color of her hair, where we lived, where she worked, and a few personal questions. He asked why we were at the trailer park if we had moved.

This man was a stranger to me, and I was starting to get upset about his questioning when he reached inside his shirt and took out the billfold and gave it to her. He said that he wanted to make sure he gave it to the right person. We hadn’t changed the address on her driver’s license yet, so he had come to the trailer park to find her. I looked in the billfold and every cent was there.

I tried to give him a reward for the billfold. He told me that if both of us had to work, we couldn’t afford to give away any money. He told me that he didn’t need much money. I stuck some money in his shirt pocket anyway. When we got home, we found the money we had given him lying on the front seat of the car. He must have pitched it in the window before
he walked away.

To this day, if I find money I do my best to find the owner. I’ve found money on several occasions and I’ve always been able to find the owner. And one more thing: I also learned to not judge a book by its cover.

Originally published as HeroicStories #528 on July 5, 2004

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