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A stranger's kindness helped NPR's Mary Louise Kelly reunite with her lost wallet


"My Unsung Hero," from the team at Hidden Brain, is a series about people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else. Today's story comes from me. It's about an evening a few months ago.

I was here in Washington, walking home from my local bookstore, when I reached in my pocket, and my wallet was gone, vanished. So I started retracing my steps. I'm down on my hands and knees, looking in the gutters around the streets. I go back and forth and back and forth. My wallet is nowhere.

I go back in the bookstore. The nice guy at the register who had just sold me my books says nobody has turned this wallet in. So I trudge home. I think, all right, I'll have dinner, and then I guess I need to start canceling all of these cards.

And an email appears. It is from a man named Adam who says he has found my wallet right exactly where I was searching the sidewalk. He recognized my name because he listens to NPR. And he had a friend who had a friend who also works at NPR. Long story short, she found me.

I texted Adam. He texted back his home address. So I call an Uber and send it to his address and ask if the Uber driver can collect something for me and bring it to my house. And 20 minutes later, the wallet arrives at my front steps safe and sound, everything intact, nothing touched. Adam has tucked it in a brown paper wine bag. And the loveliest detail - as I'm digging the wallet out of the bag, and I realize at the bottom, Adam has dropped a Cadbury caramel egg, which he could not have possibly known is my absolute favorite.

And I've been thinking about this because there are so many stories of villainy in the world, of badness, of greediness and corruption and evil, that to come across the most simple of stories of kind people, good people willing to go out of their way and do a nice turn for a stranger feels worth sharing. And so I want to say here what I said to Adam that night, which is thank you.

And to all the others who helped - the driver who brought it back, the friend of a friend who helped connect everybody, there are good people in this world. There are kind people in this world ready to go out of their way to help a stranger. And I am grateful to these strangers for reminding me of that, and I will be looking for chances to pay it forward. My story of losing my wallet and the quiet heroes who helped me.

You can find more stories from "My Unsung Hero" wherever you get your podcasts. And to share your own story, record a voice memo on your phone and email it to myunsunghero@hiddenbrain.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.