It finally happened Â – one of my greatest traveling fears – I lost my wallet in a foreign country.
Maybe it was the sleep deprivation after more than 20 hours en route, maybe it was the chaos of wrestling withÂ my squirmy 15-month-old, or maybe I’m just that absentminded, but I somehow managed to leave my wallet on the plane after a 14-hour flight from Washington Dulles to Beijing.
I realized it when we were at the baggage claim – far too late to turn around and go back to the gate. Â Before we left the airport,Â I contacted United’s baggage services, whichÂ had someone check around my seat on the plane for the wallet, without success. Â I also filed a claim with the airport’s lost and found. Â But I left the airport that day thinking it was gone forever. What a pain.
It could have been worse. Â My passport was tucked away in a much safer location. I only had a relatively small amount of cashÂ in the wallet. And I had ensuredÂ that my wife and I were carrying different credit and ATM cards in case of such an event. The biggest bummer for me was that I would need to spend several hours in line at the DMV to get my driver’s license reissued.
The next day, I got an email from my mother back in the US, who had received a phone call from LaVerne Gaither, a United flight attendant. Â LaVerne had found my wallet on the return flight back to the US and handed it over to the gateÂ agent at Washington Dulles airport. Â When I got home, I found out she had also contactedÂ me through Facebook, sending alongÂ photos of the wallet and its contents. Â I calledÂ United’s lost and found handling at Dulles and, after filling out a short online form, my wallet was on its way back to me.
I’ll be the first to admit – United has made a lot of negative changes recently, especially forÂ us lowly non-elites. Case-in-point – this never would have happened if I hadn’t had to get my wallet out to pay for my formerly complimentaryÂ drink on a trans-Pacific flight. Â However, this is a great example ofÂ how dedicated many United’s employees are. Â LaVerne would have done her job satisfactorily if she had simply handed my wallet off at the gate and gone home, but I would never have known to callÂ Dulles if she had stopped there. Â Were it not for herÂ taking the initiative to goÂ out of her way to find me, I wouldÂ be spending my day today standing in line at the DMV. Â It’s a simple thing, really – and it probably only took a few minutes of her time. Â But it made all the difference in the world to me. Thanks LaVerne – and all the hardworking flight crews for that matter. Â Faith restored.