A week ago last Sunday afternoon, in the pouring rain, Chuck jaywalked to expedite his journey to Starbucks to read on one of their comfy chairs, but returned back to my studio abode in downtown San Rafael within two minutes, frantically tearing apart systematiclly searching through what appeared to be a woman’s wallet, while I was intently studying my Spanish flashcards.
“Dude, what are you doing with that wallet,” I said, but he did not answer, because he was hyperventilating, and sweating.
“Dude, what are you doing holding all that cash,” I said, as he was counting up a stack of hundred dollar bills.
He finally let it escape that he had found this wallet, laying on the sidewalk. “I can’t find a phone number.” he said.
It contained one brand new passport, one brand new visa to India, and one very large stack of cash, and no other contact information, save for some receipts, check carbon copies, and some kind of proof of insurance, possibly expired, now that I think about it.
It looked like its owner, one Marsha Harley Higgenbottom (that is not really her name) was about to take a big trip.
The checkbook showed a Santa Monica address, with no phone number. “She’s smart,” said Chuck.
“Not to fear, Chuckarooni,” I said. “In case you did not know, I am an expert at stalking people. It is very easy to do.”
Google quickly indicated to me that the reason why her phone number was not readily available to the public is because she is a movie producer, philanthropist, and, in other words, a wealthy, generous, kind heared celebrity and impossible to find.
Chuck continued digging through the wallet, hoping for any possible contact, while I used my noggin again and called the San Rafael Police.
“No, we can’t find any phone listing for Marsha Harley Higgenbottom,” said the San Rafael Police Operator. “What you need to do is drop it off here, and she can come pick it up.”
“But how is she going to know–”
“Can you hold on a second?” She put me on hold. “Right. Just bring it by the station.”
“But how is it it going– ”
“I’m sorry, can you hold?” She put me on hold again. “Right. Well, drop it off, okay?”
“How will she get it back?”
“Look. If she doesn’t pick it up, we’ll mail it to her to the address listed here in Santa Monica.”
“Listen lady,” I said, kind of, maybe not using my mouth, but my mind. “Don’t you understand? She could be headed to the airport right now. It is mission critical that she get her wallet back. Can’t you imagine the state of panic she is in? Have you no empathy? Good God, woman!”
“Oh, okay, thanks for your help,” I said.
I hung up, and I could hear Chuck in the dining room on his cell phone. He had made some kind of contact with an insurance company.
“Look, I don’t know the lady,” he said. “I just need to –. Right. Right. I know that you can’t give me her–. Right. I know that. Right. Can you just call her?”
“I think her insurance company is going to call her,” he said, when he hung up the phone. “I”m going to go read at Starbucks.”
“What about the police, Chuck? They said to drop the wallet off. Wouldn’t that be the right thing to do?”
“Eff the police! Did you see this wad of cash? She’ll never get her money back!”
Chuck went to Starbucks, and I continued my Google stalking. I found and called every organization she ever donated to in Marin County or San Francisco. I e-mailed a place that she had written a check to where I thought she had her blinds done, but whoopsie, that was in Ontario, Canada. In facebook, I sent out an all points bulliten as my status update.
Katie Kelly Does anyone know Marsha Harley Higgenbottom? Chuck just found her wallet.
George Jenkins Just throw it in the mailbox.
Molly Middlbury Can’t you just take it to the police?
Rhonda Rhondstadt Finder’s fee!
The next morning, at our weekly meeting in Berkeley, I explained the gravity of the situation to my co-workers, and my boss Steve began Internet stalking her, too.
Everybody was stalking Marsha Harley Higgenbottom. It was a team effort.
Ten minutes into the meeting, I got a call back on my cell phone from the receptionist at the San Francisco Film Society. I ran out into the hallway to intercept the call with the middle man. My hands shook.
I texted Chuck to tell him my good fortune.
“I already talked to Marsha,” he texted back. “Will pick up tonight.”
Okay, so there is a possibility that maybe my stalking was not entirely necessary, but I’m telling you, celebrities are hard to find. I understand that this is for their own safety, but what are they supposed to do when they drop their wallets by accident on the sidewalk? Trust that the next guy to pick it up is going to find them? It doesn’t seem fair.
Later that night, after Chuck made the hand off at an undisclosed location in front of an outdoor Italian restaurant on 4th Street, we met up for burritos.
“I feel good,” he said.
“Me, too. I”m so glad.”
We watched some Mexican game show on the tv in the taquería, where the wives were supposed to push their husbands down a slide on a long table across the stage, in a drag race formation, and whoever’s husband got closer to the pair of chachas waiting for him at the other end would win extra points. And I learned a new verb, “cuchiplanchar,” which could be useful, I guess, in certain situations. “Planchar” means to iron. Maybe you can figure out the rest.
Chuck received a text message. It was from Marsha Harley Higgenbottom.
Here is a general synopsis of that message: “Dear Katie and Chuck. I would really like to compensate you for finding my wallet. I offer you three choices: a dinner at your favorite restaurant; a cash reward; or how about two tickets to the Oscars?”
That was probably the best grilled steak burrito I’ve ever had.
Coming up next: Just what does one wear to the Oscars? What do you say to the sales girl when you walk into the Gap?