Today was a flurry of activity. Greg’s BFF, Mike, came out to the boat with his two boys. Not long after that our friends Chris and Gabe from Alaska arrived. Though they landed in Miami close to midnight the night before, they ended up staying at a hotel for the night, so they were well-rested. It was a day of fun, with the boys jumping off the boat and playing in the water, while Chris and Gabe got their sea legs. Around noon Greg christened our grill by cooking up a bunch of burgers and we put out a bowl of salsa with chips and we all crammed into the cockpit like one big family.
After lunch, to shake Chris and Gabe out of their afternoon stupor, partly incurred by the Dramamine, the three of us went for a walk around No Name Harbor and out to the tip of Key Biscayne. Halfway along the seaside trail Chris looked down and picked up something from the ground I’d only seen out of the corner of my eye. It was a wallet. She opened it up and found several credit cards and over $100 in 20s and some British pounds.
We looked around, but no one in the near vicinity appeared to be missing a wallet. We speculated that it had fallen out of a surrey bicycle that had whizzed by us on the path with a family and a little girl on the front, but they were long gone.
Chris started examining the cards and found his name: Sean Hayward. We all took a good look at Sean’s face on his UK identification card. We checked his age. That narrowed it down. We were looking for someone our parent’s age with a receding hairline who spoke Queen’s English.
“I love a good mystery!” Chris exclaimed. “I feel totally awake now!”
Having worked for the park service, Chris and Gabe were certain that a seasonal employee would take the money. So after we finished walking to the nearest parking lot, and found no one resembling Sean Hayward’s description, no one who appeared to be frantically looking around at the ground, and no one who responded to the name of “Sean” when Chris called it out to a few passing individuals, we turned around and backtracked because perhaps Sean Hayward was backtracking, too, looking for his wallet. If he wasn’t, we would return to the boat and announce it on the radio and ask that anyone missing a wallet hail us and identify himself. (This because I assumed he was a cruiser like us – not realizing that Bill Baggs State Beach is one of the busiest state parks in Florida.)
When no one along the path appeared to be wallet-hunting we got another idea and called the number on the back of his credit card. We thought perhaps the credit card company could contact him and let him know where he could find his wallet, but they wanted no part. They did not arrange meet-ups, the representative informed me. She offered to shut down his card, but we decided that would really suck for Sean if and when he did recover his wallet.
Somehow we all agreed that, as we were the first to find the wallet, it had to have been someone who had passed us on the path less than a minute or two before Chris discovered it. It had to be the family.
“Let’s call the surrey bike operator and ask if Sean was one of their recent customers. They might have his phone number,” Chris suggested.
I tried calling, but the number was busy, so we headed off walking toward the bike pavilion, about a 10-15 minute walk from where we were, down a path that took us through a “no trespassing” area and what looked like personnel housing.
The park was closing soon and as we turned onto the main road we found a mass exodus of vehicles leaving the main parking lot. Was Sean in one of them? I suggested that perhaps Chris should walk with her hand outstretched holding the wallet, but this idea did not go over well. Then, halfway into the parking lot, I spotted a man peering under neighboring cars.
“What are you looking for?” I called out to him. “Perhaps we can help you?”
“It’s my wallet!” he said, in exasperation. In unison came our joint follow-up question: “Is it a wallet?”
“What’s your name?” Chris asked shrewdly.
“Sean!” he replied excitedly.
Chris handed him the black leather packet that contained the keys to his personal wealth. He could hardly believe it.
“You don’t know what you’ve done,” he said, then he spontaneously hugged her. “Can I buy you dinner?” he asked. We all wanted to say yes – we didn’t want the adventure to end. We wanted to sit back over beers and tell him all about it. But, of course, we would not be joining him for dinner.
“No thanks,” Chris said, “But how about, next time you buy an ice cream cone, buy one for the next person behind you in line and tell them,” she paused dramatically and I thought she was going to say her name, and added, “tell them it’s from Hillary Clinton.”
Then we walked back to the boat, sharing other stories of missing and returned objects. As if on cue, Greg showed up at the dinghy dock with Mike and the boys, who wished us well and departed just as it began to rain. We ate a dinner of fattoush and muhammara inside the cabin and talked about the incident.
“My mother would have called it a miracle,” Chris said. “Think of all the small things that had to happen in order for Sean to get his wallet back: it had to be us and not someone desperate who discovered it. And if we hadn’t gone back toward the bicycle rental, or hopped over the “no trespassing” sign, we wouldn’t have arrived in time to catch them.”
It did feel like a miracle, a small one anyway. And it was hard to imagine our trip starting off with better karma.