Back at the hotel from our down town phone adventure, I got off at the bus stop and walked across the street to the OXXO store to pick up a few things. When I got to the check out and reached for my wallet I realized it was gone. I had just used it downtown at the cell phone store. I had a couple hundred Canadian and more in US funds plus a few pesos. The part that really bothered me was my driver’s license, my credit cards, my bank card, and several other personal items such as my medical card.
I left the basket on the counter and told the clerk I would be right back. Outside the store, I looked across at a small road side kiosk that we had bought some tours the day before. The man who owned it, Louis, spoke perfect English and was most helpful. I ran over to him and explained that I thought or at least hoped my wallet was on the last bus which had just left a few minutes before. What should I do?
Louis left his kiosk and went down the road to another bus and he explained in Spanish what had happened and that bus driver got out his phone and made a call. It took some time for the first bus driver to pull over and answer, then the bus drivers had a conversation while passengers quietly waited.
“What colour of wallet was it?” I’m thinking he has more than one?
“Brown leather,” I said.
“Where were you sitting?”
“Half way down the pass anger side.” – more waiting.
“He has it.” The driver was beaming, “But he cannot wait, he must continue on his route.” We thanked him and Louis directed me back to his kiosk.
“Come on. Get in that taxi. The new hero said pointing to one in front of his stand.
I jumped into the front passenger seat, he into the driver’s seat and we sped off.
“You own the taxi as well?”
“No but I know the route and drive faster than the driver will.” Louis cut back and forth changing lanes and cutting off other drivers, much like in the movies.
“You do not mind if I drive like a Mexican?” Who was I to complain, we had just stolen a taxi.
“There do you see it up there?” He said after a few miles. “When I pull up along-side wave out your window at him.”
A few minutes later the bus pulled over beside the road and I was standing on the steps. The driver was smiling proudly as he held up the tri-fold wallet by one end and I could see it had all spilled out and he had jammed everything into one bill compartment. I took it, thanked him and looked at the mess inside.
“Is it all there” He said and Louis repeated in English.
I could see Canadian hundred dollar bills, several American and Mexican bills but more importantly my cards and driver’s license were there. I figured if anyone had sole something they would have taken more and if the driver had he would have simply said he did not find it so I said yes and peeled off two US twenties for his trouble.
Back in the car the driver said he knew all the drivers as they stopped at his stand every day and I really should tip the first driver as well as we would never have found this had he not taken the time to call. I took out the last of my US money and handed him thirty-five dollars, “Is this enough?”
“Yes, that will be enough, I will see he gets it tomorrow. He will be happy.”
Back at his kiosk Louis suggested that I give the taxi driver $30 pesos for his car, which I did while he explained in Spanish why we took it. Later I figured out the value of 30 pesos, $1.38 US, which is why he looked so dejected. Sorry.
I told him I had to go to the ATM at the OXXO store, get my groceries and a tip for him.
I returned with three five-hundred pesos bills for him thinking it about $60 dollars but later calculating it was just over $100 Canadian. He was most pleased and told me the next day the other driver was thrilled as well. Over $200 in tips was a small price to pay as they could have made more just keeping the wallet.
It made me realize how kind and honest Mexican people, like most people, really are. Too often we hear rhetoric casting doubt on all people of one community or another. None of the four Mexican people I met this day had any reason to step up and help but they all did and I am very grateful.