by Todd Rockhold
San Diego, California, USA
In 1970, while in California’s Yosemite National Park on the first day of a week’s vacation, several friends and I rented bicycles to tour the valley floor. I was a naive college kid and had just about all of my life savings in US currency in my wallet. But that was OK — I was being careful, right?
About 2:00 p.m., an almost canonical hippie-mobile pulled up next to us — an old Volkswagen bus hand painted bumper to bumper and top to bottom with a bright yellow sun, pale blue clouds, deep blue lakes, a white crescent moon, dark green trees, some multicolored paisley.
One of those unwashed, unAmerican, lazy, foul-mouthed, long-haired, pot-smoking, likely criminal hippies (as I thought at the time due to an unusually insular, conservative upbringing swallowed whole — well, his hair was in fact long, OK?) was at the wheel. Three or four others were passengers.
The driver called out, “Hey, any one of you know somebody named Todd Rockhold?”
Shocked as almost never before in my lifetime, I managed to mumble “Uh, yeah, that’s me.”
“Groovy!” he said. “We have been looking for you for FIVE HOURS! We’ve been driving all over the valley asking everyone we saw if they know where you are. You dropped your wallet, man!”
To prove there was some mistake, I reached for my wallet in my back pocket… and found nothing. So I walked over and got my wallet back, all the cash still in it. Big smiles on everyone in the bus.
Losing a belief built over much of a lifetime in about 15 seconds, I stood mute as they drove away.
Available in The Best of HeroicStories, Volume 1.