Friday, March 9, my husband and I stopped by McKay's bookstore in Knoxville around 7:50 p.m. to pick up a Metro Pulse and drop off some books. We had spent a lovely day, far from our northern Grainger County home, celebrating our anniversary by having a rare trip out to eat, and running errands. Waiting in the car for my husband at McKay's, I took out some money to buy gas for our 50-mile trip back to Washburn. When he arrived back with some rejected books, I got out of the car to help him and inadvertently must have dropped the cash on the ground. We noticed about 10 minutes later, driving down the road, that the money was gone. After stopping and searching the car, we headed back to McKay's, parked in the same space, and searched the parking lot for the money. None was found.
I went inside and told the young women behind the counter what had happened and they said no money had been found or reported to them. I told them that I had hope that someone finding the money would surely return it, as an act of kindness and good will toward a stranger, and they looked at me with empathetic eyes, but I could tell they probably thought no money would show up in their lost-and-found box that evening. While losing this money was upsetting, even more disheartening was the fact that these young women looked as though they felt little hope could be held for an act of anonymous integrity to happen.
Volunteering with many groups for many years, I have witnessed true need often in Grainger County. The stories of poverty and lack can be told about many, many households in our county. My husband and I are very blessed and have so much to be thankful for; our need is very little compared to most folks in our community, our country, and our world. Food, shelter, a wood stove for heat, good neighbors and friends, and our shared love make me feel blessed with great abundance every day.
But I feel somewhat sad that helping others with their personal loss was not perhaps the first thought of those who found our money on Friday night. If I had lost money at our local Petticoat Junction Grocery store (a very tiny store in Washburn where wise-elder men sit and whittle on benches in front of the store every day, and the owners make everyone feel like family), I feel sure that someone would pick up the money, bring it inside, and try to find the owner. I would also hope that most folks in Knoxville would do the same.
While this loss made it hard on us for a short time, and I hope whoever picked up and kept the money truly found abundance from the experience, we will surely find blessings to come in our life. I only hope that our young citizens know that goodness can be found in what often feels like a me-centered, cynical world. I hold out hope that someone will yet return our lost money to McKay's. I also hold hope that the recipient of the bundle of bills may perhaps, more importantly, feel compelled to return the lost hope to those folks who wonder whether anonymous integrity still exists.