An interesting thing occurred after I returned to the Land of the Rising Sun. I had been in Tokyo a couple of days, and jet lag had seemed not to be too much of an issue, thanks to napping at the appropriate times. However, after running about Harajuku with a friend of mine and visiting Oedo Onsen afterwards, I was a content and drowsy foreigner. We each paid the fee for all the wonderfulness that was the Old-fashioned Edo village inside the bathhouse, on the way out. We tossed on our shoes and hopped on the monorail towards Shimbashi station, so we could take a train back to Asakusa, where we could take a train home to our prefecture.

Except it didn't go that way. I fell asleep on the monorail. We changed trains at Shimbashi, and near to Asakusa station, I noticed my wallet was missing. I felt knots begin to tighten in my stomach, checked the rest of my purse, then sorted out with my friend a couple of plans. I had earlier booked a capsule at a hostel in Asakusa, since I had stayed previously and my laundry there was taking time so I'd be over the 10:00 checkout time. I decided I would stay in Asakusa that night, and try to make some calls to the Onsen and the monorail. Luckily, I did have my passport, still, so I really didn't freak out much.

My friend missed the last train back to our prefecture, so we went to her choice of hostel, but they were full up. No room at the Inn, make your own joke. So, we figured she could stay at the same hostel as me, provided they had a vacancy. While we were at a convenient store, I had to make a visit to the restroom and found someone else's purse. I turned it in and told my friend. She said, "That's a good sign. It's an omen!" I no longer believe in karma, but I do have faith in humanity. Still, I did not expect to find my wallet as I had left it.

That night, I looked up the statistics of returned wallets. I came across this site:

While my wallet had more money in it than those used in the test, I also --sorry fellow Americans-- have more faith in Japanese people to return such a valuable lost item. I told my friend that I would mind less that the wallet come empty save ID and cards, than not at all. Being a foreigner, it would be quite a hassle to go back and take care of resubmitting paperwork for my ID and closing/opening bank accounts.

Long story short, my wallet was returned to me, via the monorail office, everything intact. For a religious person, this incident might have renewed their faith in god, but for me, it was a renewal of faith in humanity. I was also assured that I am doing well on my road to reason. I didn't freak out, save for knots in my stomach. My friend was really astounded at that. I explained that freaking out wouldn't bring back my wallet. I could only do what I could do.

It was also a good lesson in how well and poor my Japanese ability was. There were instances where I made my intent known. I was able to fill out the police report on my own. However, there were times on the phone, where I needed my friend's help. I'm glad she was there, with me. Maybe I'd have freaked out more, if left to myself to make all the calls.

Though I don't believe in karma or omens, I do think that your attitude has a lot to do with how well things unfold. I would not have my wallet back, were it not for the person returning it, but also, they had contacted my school/workplace. If I had bad relations with my workplace, things might have been sour in the wallet's recovery. For me, this is a lesson and reminder of how we, as people, depend on each other. Pay It Forward is a real enough concept and philosophy. I hope the lady who left her purse at the convenient store was able to retrieve it, too.

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Comment by Nerdlass on January 10, 2012 at 2:39am
Wow, sk8eycat, that was a mix for you... I hope the ID theft didn't go far... did you have to get a new SSN, can you even do that? I'm glad you got your photos back, at least.

Yeah, I'm definitely going to be using this as a lesson to my students traveling abroad. They have a sister school in Britain, so some will be going there in the Spring.

Thanks, Steph. Glad you did. It could have turned out pretty bad. I was very lucky. I once had my backpack and a laptop stolen. It's no fun... luckily that time, I didn't have ID in it. Still harsh, to lose an expensive laptop. x.o
Comment by sk8eycat on January 8, 2012 at 1:49am


Years ago my wallet was "lifted" out of my purse while I was unloading my shopping cart at a supermarket checkout stand.  I also freaked out, the checker immediately sent two baggers after the theives...they work in pairs, it's called "smash and grab."  One bumps into you, and when you turn toward her to say something, the otherone grabs the wallet.  Of course, they had become invisible by then.

I called my bank, cancelled my one credit card and my checking account, and then went home, sans groceries, and cried because there were some irreplaceable photos in there.  A few days later I got a phone call from a man way out at the other end of the valley; his 8 year-old son had found the wallet at a bus stop. Of course it was missing money, ATM card, checks, driver's license, and Social Security card, but the priceless photos were still there, and so was my library card with my name and address on it; that's how they found me.  I drove out there, thanked the boy profusely for his efforts and honesty, and gave him a $10 reward (all I had left), and just for fun I gave him an autographed 8x10 Holiday on Ice glossy of myself and two partners in our bear costumes.

This is America, lotta crooks who just want your money, including the largest corporations and churches, but there is a huge black market in stolen Social Security cards, etc. for illegal aliens.  They also tried to clean out my checking account, but I'd already closed it. I think that tipped them not to try to use the credit card, but still...somebody, somewhere has  my SS#, driver's licnse, name and address.  That still spooks me.

I don't carry an obvious wallet anymore...I keep cash and cards in a little leather coin purse that fits in a zippered pocket inside my purse, and my checkbook is somewhere else...I hardly use checks anymore, anyway.  I pay my bills online.  Safer.

So...beware if someone bumps into you..look to your other side to see if they have a partner who does the actual lifting.  But try to keep your important stuff where they can't get their hands on it.

PS: Also years ago (1957 or '58, I think), some of my friends went to Moscow, when it was still the capital of the USSR, with the first American ice show to appear there.  When they left a tip for their waiter on the table in a restaurant, the waiter came running after them to return the money.  No tipping allowed in the "Workers' Paradise."




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