Karma is everywhere. Even on N train, although N stands for ‘never’, remember? The train that never comes.
Last Sunday’s morning found me in my boyfriend’s bed, in East Village. We had to eat breakfast quickly and run to Brooklyn to get some stop motion work done.
– Wait! There is a fair on Broadway, – I said on our way to N train stop. – Let’s check out what they are selling!
Three weekends ago my boyfriend got socks at a street fair, and I would use any excuse not to work on Sundays. At least delay it a little bit if I can.
– Yah yah, – my boyfriend said, keeping the pace, aiming at 8th street subway stop. – Street fair wont get your work done.
We just missed the N train, by a hair, and stood on the platform looking at passing by Q trains and the R that always comes when you don’t need it.
The N arrived 15 minutes later.
We sat on the hard seats and continued the conversation about why public art most of the times doesn’t work (not sure if the mosaic art of the 8th street stop is even art).
Then I turned my head and saw across the door isle a wallet, laying completely alone on a seat. 7 feet away from me. So lonely, it seemed to emit a slight whine.
A complicated thought flashed through my mind in a less of a second: “The $188.23 check that 3 weeks ago I lost and a stranger found and mailed for me, that was a Karmic loan, now I have to return it.”
– A wallet! – I shouted. Everybody around me startled. Quickly like a cat I went after the wallet and snatched it from the seat.
When I sat back next to my boyfriend, my fingers shivered with excitement.
– We have to call the person right away! – I said and pulled out the first thing which, of course, was a credit card.
The person had a male name and a Slavic sounding last name. Lets call him Victor Letkov.
– Where is the phone number? – I wondered. – Why credit cards never have person’s phone number?
My excitement subsided. One thing about having a stranger’s wallet in your hands is that it makes you feel trespassing someone’s privacy. Feeling uncomfortable, I gave the wallet to my boyfriend. Let him to violate Victor Letkov’s privacy.
He went through the cards methodically.
We found out a lot about our Victor from those cards, but no phone number.
– We could take it to a police station, – my boyfriend suggested.
I thought of poor Victor discovering the loss of his wallet with a scream, then desperately trying to cancel the credits cards on Sunday when the banks don’t work, all the while he didn’t have to worry about screaming nor canceling because the wallet got into our good hands.
– Wouldn’t giving the wallet to police delay Victor’s reunion with his wallet for at least 5 days?- I asked.
– It would.
By then the N train got on Manhattan Bridge and stopped. The cell phone service was available.
– Lets call 411 and get Victor’s number, – my boyfriend suggested. And so we did, but by the time we got the operator, the train started to move again and went into the tunnel closing the signal.
We had to wait till the slowly creeping N train reaches our stop. My boyfriend held Victor’s wallet but I started to worry. First I worried about Victor getting worried. Then I started to think about the fine line between a good deed and a crime: what would be a formal distinction between a person taking a wallet with an intent to cash the credit cards and us holding the wallet with an intent to return it? Intent in an invisible, unprovable idea. The deed of the intent hasn’t happened yet. Here we are, with a stranger’s wallet in our hands. Who knows what we are going to do with it? Even we don’t know for sure. We might as well be thieves.
Then I started to think what would happen if we did try to cash the credit cards. You know, to raise money for the film. Most likely our pictures would be taken at an ATM and posted all over the Town. But we could go to expensive restaurants and eat all we can, no one would know.
I started to burn with the desire to return the wallet ASAP.
The moment we got out of subway we called 411 with Victor’s name an address.
– Number unpublished, – was the short 411 reply to our inquest.
– What a fool! – I shouted in frustration. – Why didn’t he publish his number? Didn’t he expect to lose his wallet one day?
– Lets go to your studio and try Facebook, – my boyfriend suggested. He is a big believer in Facebook because everybody his knows is on it.
Well, turned out, our Victor was too private a person to be on Facebook, his business didn’t require self promotion or publicity.
We Googled him again and found that one could send him a request for service quote through some business site. So we sent him a message through that site and gave it a rest. Who knows when Victor checks his work related mail.
Ten minutes later my cell phone started to ring with urgency.
– Victor Letkov here, who are you? – an excited male voice demanded.
– Victor! – I greeted him like an old friend, although I knew him intimately only for an hour and half. – What a relief! We have your wallet!
– I am not a mother, but this is a greatest gift for the Mother’s day! – Victor said and it sounded he was about to weep. – I have been desperate for the last two hours, just going crazy!
Since my boyfriend had to go back to Manhattan that evening to see a show, he and Victor arranged a meeting.
Before he went, I asked:
– What if Victor wants to give you a reward?
– Nah,- my boyfriend said. – I won’t take a reward, I’ll tell him to pass the good deed to the next person. You know, finding a wallet or lost check and doing the right thing.
We were on the same page about it.
– Yeah, – I said. – What would $20 would buy us anyway? Half a dinner. Nah.
I though $20 was the going fee for finding one’s wallet. How wrong I was.
After meeting Victor my boyfriend called.
– Did he answer the questions correctly? – I asked. We wanted to make sure it was the right Victor and decided to ask him his birth date and his wife’s name before giving the wallet into his hands.
– He was the Victor all right, looked just like on his ID, and he got the birth date right, too, – my boyfriend said. – He also had an envelope prepared for us, with $500 inside.
– Five hundred! – I said and my heart stood still.
$500 could buy us 25 dinners (we eat cheap but well), or it would cover 1/4 of my rent, or it would add funds to the “Rocks In My Pockets” ($500 is 1/200 of the budget).
– I turned it down, – my boyfriend said.- I told him to pass the good deed to the next person.
Here’s a Karma for you.
It doesn’t care for the math. $188.23 or $500 is the same thing for Karma. Wouldn’t someone’s good deed worth of $188.23 be repaid with my good deed worth about the same? Or, I could have at least kept the change.
I also know for sure now that my boyfriend is a saint.
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