The other night, I took my 11-and-a-half-year-old son, Jamiroquai (JQ) and his friend, Liam, to Fitness New West, at the community centre beside Canada Games Pool. It is a mini road trip for us, as we live in White Rock.
For me, Fitness New West is a reminder of my university days when I regularly attended fitness classes there.
As a treat afterward, Liam's mom, Andrea, and I toh of the best veggie burgers, in my opinion. As usual, Burger Heaven was full and busy! After settling JQ and Liam into a corner table, Andrea and I chose the neighbouring table so we could chat.
We ordered vanilla milkshakes for the boys, reminded them about restaurant manners and, more importantly, about not interrupting us, unless it was an emergency. Soon afterward, JQ came rushing from the washroom, exclaiming,
"Mom, it's an emergency! I found a wallet in the bathroom!"
He had indeed found a wallet, as he held a bulging man's black wallet in his hands. I told him to give it to our waiter, Steve.
We continued with our dinner. Steve later told us that he could not find a contact number in the wallet but that it had a large amount of cash in it - over $1,000.
He showed us the owner's driver's licence and asked us if we remembered seeing him at the restaurant. We had not.
Andrea decided to look for his phone number on Canada 411 from her cellphone. She found a number, called it and left a message, on the voicemail, that Robert's wallet had been found.
A few minutes later, a woman called back. Andrea asked her if she and her husband had been out for dinner. The woman, Vicci, replied that she hadn't but that her husband and son had gone for dinner at Burger Heaven. We knew then that we had found the wallet's owner.
Vicci asked Andrea if she had found the wallet and Andrea told her that her friend's 11-year-old son had found it in the bathroom. Vicci asked Andrea to thank JQ and that she would be sending her husband down to get his wallet.
Before leaving Burger Heaven, Steve suggested that I leave our phone number in case Robert wanted to contact my son. I gave my cellphone number to Steve and we left the restaurant.
Shortly thereafter, Vicci called and asked for our address or if we were close enough, could we come back to Burger Heaven, as Robert wanted to thank JQ. Since we were only minutes from the restaurant, I turned our car around and drove back. As I approached Burger Heaven, I knew t
hat the beige SUV parked right beside the restaurant was Robert and Vicci. I parked our car right beside their truck and JQ and I got out. As Vicci and I smiled at one another, it was as though we both knew that this was between a man and a young boy. She stayed seated in the driver's seat of her vehicle, and I stood at the driver's side of our car.
For me, I recognized the power of this exchange. For a boy; my son, who is growing up without his father, there was magic in this moment!
Robert is a burly, strong, bald-headed man. He hopped out of the passenger seat of his truck and approached JQ.
He put one hand on JQ's shoulder and shook his other hand.
"Are you JQ?" he asked.
"I'm Robert, and that was my wallet you found!" he said.
"Is that your mom? I want you to take this and buy you and your mom something nice." Robert said.
I could see that he was handing Jamiroquai a folded $50 bill.
I said, "No, no, that isn't necessary."
Robert emphatically said, "Yes it is! You have instilled in him good values. I am reinforcing them."
I turned and looked at Vicci and she nodded. We both had tears in our eyes.
Robert then said, "I don't usually have that amount of money in my wallet, but I don't get out of the house very much these days."
Robert gave JQ one final shake of his hand and a pat on his back.
"Thank you", he said.
JQ said, "Thank You!" with a smile from ear to ear.
They both returned to their cars. A boy to his mom. A man to his wife.
As we drove away, we honked and waved goodbye to each other. JQ opened his hand and out dropped two $50 bills.
"Mom, Robert gave me 100 bucks!" he exclaimed.
"WOW!" I said. "WOW!"
I knew that this was much larger than $100. This was a life lesson that was priceless.
I had no way of knowing as I drove back to White Rock just how much bigger this chance encounter would become.
The story got even sweeter!
JQ made several phone calls to his grandpa, his auntie and, of course, his friend Liam. He had a great story to share. As I tucked JQ into bed that night he told me that he was really proud of himself. I was really proud of him too!
He just knew that he had found something that didn't belong to him. He just knew that somebody would be glad to have it back. He had done the right thing.
Later that evening, I felt compelled to reach out to Vicci. I sent her a text:
HI...I just tucked JQ into bed..he had the BIGGEST SMILE and couldn't Be Prouder..THANK YOU for Extending your Gratitude with such Generosity and Kindness-And-Teaching a Valuable Life Lesson in the Process...he is an avid longboarder So will use the money for some great new gear I'm Sure...so glad to have gotten your wallet back to U...
- Sue & JQ Fuller
This is when the story got Sweeter.
Vicci replied back:
HI Sue..I am so happy how everything worked out. It really was very nice of JQ to do what he did. My husband is going through chemotherapy and is really having memory issues from the chemo so this makes the found wallet even better-something positive for him! Well, it is the beginning of summer vacation so we hope JQ has fun and hopefully enough $$ to get some new gear. We are not familiar with longboard gear. We were into hockey and ringette gear with our kids. Thank you and JQ and Andrea and Burger Heaven so very much!
It was so very clear! This was not a chance encounter.
This was what my sister refers to as a "God shot." It was a touch of heaven at Burger Heaven ... between a boy and a man named Robert.
Sue Fuller, New Westminster