Forgetful thief gives gift of memories

Elaine Luddy Klonicki, Columnist

The other day the phone rang, and a friendly caller asked if I had lost a maroon wallet in the early 1990s. I had! I remember because it was so unsettling.

I was working at a real-estate software company off Six Forks Road. When I reached into my handbag to see if I had enough cash for lunch, my wallet was gone. I searched my car and the parking lot. I also went back to the movie theatre and my church in case it had dropped out over the weekend. 

When I didn’t find it, I began to wonder if it had been stolen. We’d all been in a company meeting that morning and the security system was activated. The only other person in the office was a guy working on the heating and cooling system. I didn’t want to think that he’d taken it, but it seemed the most likely scenario. Jaded, I finally gave up, cancelled my cards, and went to the DMV for a new driver’s license. I figured the wallet was gone forever.

As soon as I got the call about the wallet, I drove straight to the Fonville Morisey office at Six Forks and Sawmill. I met Kate Law, the caller, and Regina Reid, both administrative assistants there. They were as amazed as I about the happenstance. It seems the wallet had fallen out of their ceiling when a tile was removed by a security system installer. Ironically, the system was being installed in response to a recent rash of wallet thefts in their building.

As best any of us can figure, the guy who lifted my wallet probably stashed it in the ceiling of their building, about a mile away from where I used to work, on what might have been his next job.

Going through the wallet was like going back in time, and 1992 was one of those breakout years for me. I had needed a change, and in one week I got a new job, a new car, and a new hairstyle. The wallet contained:

  • • my driver’s license — a younger me!
    • my social security card. (We didn’t know about identity theft back then.)
    • Belks, Dillard’s, Penney, and Sears cards. VISA wasn’t yet universally accepted.
    • a card for PACE Membership Warehouse, the predecessor to Sam’s Club. From our buying-in-bulk days.
    • a rental card for All You Can Watch Video store. My favorite “charity” at that time. With a teenager and a pre-schooler, it was impossible to watch our grown-up movies.
    • a This End Up card from the first time it was in Crabtree. Before it went national, got bought out, went bust and rose again.
    • a Wildflour frequent lunch card. Wonder if it’s still valid?
    • a receipt for Glamour Shots from Mom’s birthday. She’s still glamorous at age 88.
    • a picture of 3-year-old Jenny, from when we called her Jen-Jen—no picture of her 14-year-old brother Doug, then experimenting with purple hair.

So thanks, Kate and Regina, for making the effort to look me up. It isn’t often we get to open a time capsule of our own lives, to compare then and now.

Would I want to go back? Yes!

Just for a day. For one more chance to see my dad again, to have both of my kids back under the same roof, to have Jen-Jen snuggle up on my lap. And while I’m at it, just one more day with longer hair, a smaller waistline, and fewer wrinkles.

But not at the expense of all that I’ve experienced since then.

This article fist appeared in The News and Observer, November 24, 2006

return to top