FORT KENT, Maine — Despite being something of a cynic, I really do try to think the best of people and give them the benefit of the doubt.
Sure, decades of reporting on crime, natural disasters, politics and other breaking news has at times shown some of the less than endearing aspects of human nature.
But by and large I tend to view the world through somewhat rosy-colored glasses, and in my universe everyone gets along and plays well with others.
And every so often, a series of events unfolds to reinforce that somewhat Pollyannaish world view.
A little over a week ago I needed to make a quick work-related trip to Bangor, so I packed up overnight bags for myself and my chihuahua, Chiclet, loaded up the truck and pointed it south.
We made good time, despite snowy conditions on Route 11, and as we cruised down the interstate I decided to reward Chiclet’s very good traveler behavior with a visit to PetSmart.
She needed a larger harness — one that fits over her jacket, not so she can be a part of the Rusty Metal Sled Dog team — and maybe a new toy.
After pulling into the store’s parking lot and snapping the leash on Chiclet, I rummaged around in my purse to pull out my wallet, reading glasses and cellphone, all of which went into various jacket pockets along with my keys.
Now, keep in mind that even having a purse — much less schlepping one around — is still something of a novelty for me.
The only reason I finally got one after close to 54 purse-free years was at the insistence of my friend Julie, who grew weary of watching me stuff things into my pockets or worse, asking random people to hold items as I rummaged for something in said pockets.
But old habits die hard.
Inside the store we found the perfect harness, looked at treats and toys and stopped on numerous occasions so people could pet and ooh and aah over my tiny dog.
At the checkout I reached into my pocket for my wallet so we could pay for our purchases. Then I reached into my other pocket. Then a third and fourth pocket.
So I searched every pocket again and then a third time for good measure.
The nice young man at the cash register helped me look around the store, and I went out to check the parking lot and in the truck.
Somehow, at some point between getting out of my vehicle and stepping up to the cash register, the wallet — and all the money, credit cards and driver’s license it contained — had vanished, leaving me broke and without proof of identity in the big city.
Goodness knows this is not the first time something like this had happened.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve walked out of a store without my credit card after paying.
One time I was chased down by a shop owner waving my card over her head in Mendoza, Argentina. Closer to home, friends have transported my missing cards from whence they were found back to me.
Speaking of transport, there was the time I left my Kindle reader on a flight into Bangor. That time, the nice folks at the airport turned it over to a friend who lives in the area who then passed it along to another friend driving north.
This time was no different, and friends again came to the rescue after I left PetSmart without a new harness or Chiclet toy.
After I checked into my hotel for the night — which I was able to do thanks to discovering my checkbook in the truck along with my passport as proof of identity — these friends brought me food, cheered me up and made sure I had enough cash to get back to Fort Kent.
Once home, I sat down to begin the process of canceling credit cards, ordering replacement cards and getting a new driver’s license.
I was about halfway through that process when a message popped up on Facebook from an employee at PetSmart who had tracked me down on social media — the elusive wallet had been found. It had been hiding in the bin of on-sale dog toys, through which I had been rummaging, and had obviously slipped unnoticed out of my hand.
That afternoon a friend picked it up, popped it in the mail and by week’s end the wallet — and all of its contents — were safely back in my possession.
In relating this tale of wallet woe, many people have told their own lost wallet or lost checkbook stories — and every single one of them had a happy ending involving some unknown good Samaritan finding and returning them.
All of this was enough to thaw this cynic’s heart.
Next trip south, maybe Chiclet will actually get a new toy. And everything is staying in the purse.
Julia Bayly of Fort Kent is an award-winning writer and photographer, who writes part time for Bangor Daily News. Her column appears here every other Friday. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.