Every morning, around 6:30, I go for a walk around the neighborhood with my dog Yogi (named for the baseball player, Yogi Berra, not the cartoon character, Yogi Bear, although that would have been a good choice, too. Our next door neighbors are from Indian and Audi’s parents were here a while back to help take care of their newborn grandson, Neil. One day, Audi’s mother saw Yogi and she asked what his name was. When I told her “Yogi” she said, “Ah, that means wise man. Namaste.” and bowed to him. He, of course, looked up at me as if to say, “See, she gets it.”).
Our apartment complex is adjacent to a shopping area and our morning walks usually take us past the retail stores, restaurants and offices that comprise what is known as “Park Place.” Right now, of course, most everything is closed or operating on limited hours. Before COVID-19 hit, we often saw early-morning exercise classes being held in two of the establishments that cater to people who insist on getting up at the crack of dawn to be yelled at while doing stretching routines. Those things seem to be going on less frequently now, with fewer participants. When we first moved in, there was a coffee shop that always had folks sitting and drinking and reading papers. It has since closed, as have at least two of the restaurants. Our early morning walks are very solitary these days.
Yogi has a highly-developed sense of smell, like most dogs, and he keeps his nose to the ground a lot of the time. He will also eat almost anything he finds, including bugs, bits of food left by who knows who, unidentifiable remnants of who knows what, and even used napkins. We had a nasty encounter with one of those one time. I won’t go into details, but when it came back up, I thought it was some sort of alien creature. Anyway, I try to keep my eye on him to discourage this sort of foraging. As a result, I have had the fortune (no pun intended) to find a total of $23.87 in coins and currency on our walks. Usually, it has just been nickels and dimes, but one day I picked up a $20 bill someone had dropped and yesterday, I retrieved a $1 bill in a grassy area next to the shops. My good luck has been somebody else’s loss and for that I feel sorry, but it seems unlikely that they will be coming back looking for their money, so it’s now mine.
One day, a few years back, I was in Winstead’s, a local hamburger joint. When I started to leave, I found two $20 bills on the floor in the entryway. Now, that’s a lot of money to lose and so I left my card with the cashier and said that if someone came back looking for their money, they could give me a call. I didn’t specify how much I had found. I figured that would be a way of checking whether the caller was legitimate. A few hours later, I got a call from a woman who said that she and her three kids had been at Winstead’s and that she thought that she had dropped two $20 bills somewhere in the restaurant or parking lot. They were on their way to see the kids’ grandfather who was in the hospital and had just stopped to have something to eat before visiting him. Well, the fact that she knew it was two $20s made her story seem true, so I gave her my address and she showed up later in a rather beat-up old car with the three kids in tow. I could tell that she needed the money more than I did, even if somehow she wasn’t really the one to dropped the bills.
I’ve been thinking that lost money might be a good hook for a short story or series of sketches about the people who leave behind nickels and dimes and dollar bills. Maybe I’ll give that a go one of these days. In the mean time, Yogi will keep his nose to ground and lead me to the riches that I know are out there.