Here is the sequence of events, as best I could originally reconstruct it. On Thursday Aug. 1, I drove to Lueken's North. Either when I first got in the car or before entering the store, I thought I put my newer, three-fold wallet in my left pants pocket. (Why “newer” wallet? Because I have an older one, possibly Elaine's. It has a snap to close it, but it is beat up, and has less card-carrying capacity than the new one.)

I'd left the store ad at home, so picked one up and sat opposite the help-desk to check for bargains. Bought lots, including a Roscoe's Wrap for two lunches, and enough overall to justify using my Visa card. So I reached in my pocket, but the wallet wasn't there! Decided I must not have put it there: “Be right back, gotta go get my wallet.”

The wallet was neither in the glove compartment, the pile on the shotgun seat, nor among the items in the back seat, all of which I examined carefully. Fortunately, I had enough pocket cash, so was able to pay the check-out person. Reported the lost or stolen wallet to the man at the desk. He took my address, phone, and email address to notify me if the wallet showed up. No sign of it by Friday morning. It never did show up at Lueken's.

Late Thursday evening, I figured out what probably happened: the wallet had slipped out of my too shallow pocket when I was on the bench, and someone had picked it up and kept it. Knew I'd have to go through hoops to replace my Visa, driver's license and Medicare card. The cash, of course, was a loss.

Thinking further about it, achieved a more grown-up perspective, if still somewhat unsettled. Perhaps the wallet was found by a single mom, with two youngsters to support on two minimum wage jobs. She needed the money more than I, but might regret her “sin” forever. Hoped she wouldn't make thievery a habit, and forgave “her.”

Or, unhappily, it could have been found by a shortsighted teen addict who would simply use the cash to get more of their preferred fix. All kinds of scenarios were possible: some ordinary or maybe extremely unusual human had my wallet, and I had several hours of “busy” ahead. Whatever, we prayed for the culprit(s) at Joys and Concerns time at United Methodist (BUMC) that Sunday.

Presumably the “thief” did the safest thing with my ID items, keeping only the cash and tossing the rest in the trash. A more considerate thief would pocket the cash and quietly leave the wallet with its personal items where a store employee or other upright citizen could find it and turn it in to a “lost and found.” That didn't happen.

Friday morning I phoned to cancel and replace the Visa card, and was then without a credit card for two weeks. Also, the supposed thief might try to use the canceled card, but they were apparently too savvy to risk that.

I did the form for a new Medicare card at Social Security, and the application for a replacement driver's license at the county building. Got documents at each place to show I was legal, pending the arrival of the appropriate cards. The duplicate license cost me $17, the only financial loss except for the unknown cash in the wallet. They don't have to retake your photo; MDOT has the old ones on file.

Everybody treated me very well. Perspective again: they deal with such losses routinely, sometimes perhaps with less cordial customers. But there's no point in grumping at people who are not the cause of your problem. Bemidji has a lot of agreeable people at checkout counters, public and private reception desks, and even hospital volunteer stations.

Also visited/consulted with my favorite banker, pastor and broker and my retired pastor son and wife. They are back in Bemdiji, and have been a godsend. Anyway, as of Friday Aug.t 16, I now had a new Visa card and duplicate licence and Medicare card, and am only out whatever cash was in the newer wallet. End of story? Not quite.

I think it was Thursday, Aug. 15, after I was done copy-editing the BUMC weekly bulletin, that I happened to glance down as I got into the car. There was a wallet between the seat and the body of the car, below the seatback-adjusting handle. What was my older wallet doing there? It wasn't my older wallet; my newer wallet had never left the car!

Please don't conclude that Evan was crying “Wolf'!” The kid in that tale knew there was no wolf; he just wanted attention. This was more like Edgar Allen Poe's “The Purloined Letter.” But “M. Dupin” found that in plain sight. Who looks down by the driver's seat each time they get in the car? Not many of us, I expect. I may start to.

So BUMC has sent out prayers for two people that don't exist. Perhaps Elohím will apply them to people or other creatures who do. Meanwhile, I am grateful, but I do feel stupid.

Evan Hazard is a retired BSU biology professor.