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The first summer I lived in Boston, a friend of mine (in town doing research at the Historical Society) took me out for lunch and left her wallet on the table when we left. Ten minutes later, when she realized it was gone and went back for it, someone had already taken it and disappeared. What followed were endless phone calls to put holds on credit cards, debit cards, renew IDs and replace other vital forms of information (library card anyone??). Not as catastrophic as it could have been in the identity theft department, but certainly a headache all around.

Color photograph of Boston T (electric train), Cleveland Circle line, crossing the Coolidge Corner intersection in Brookline, Mass. Photograph by Anna Cook, 2009.So this morning, when — tired and distracted by the back-from-research-trip “to do” list — I left my wallet at the Coolidge Corner post office on my way to work, and didn’t realize I had abandon it until about fifteen minutes (and a mile’s walk) later, I was prepared for the worst. I was already starting to make a mental list of the places I was going to have to phone as soon as possible to make sure our bank accounts weren’t drained through the ATM machine.

Which is why I would like to extend my fervent thanks to the anonymous, civic-minded soul who picked up my wallet from the post office counter and turned it in — every piece of money-generating plastic inside — and handed it in to the post office staff. So that when I turned up, sweaty and anxious from my one-mile trek back up the road, they could hand it back to me.

I don’t expect generosity from strangers, but it’s sure as hell a wonderful feeling to know there are people out there in the world who choose to be generous in their daily lives. Generous to someone they’ve never met, but whose life they’ve just made a hell of a lot less stressful than it could have been today. So whomever you are: Thanks.

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