Two For the Price of One
Upon inspecting her latest treasure Sarah Thomas, an Oregon businesswoman, discovered something was not quite right. The bag she picked up for a fraction of its original price, felt a little heavier than it should. As she lifted it, it seemed like an object shifted across the base of the bag. Reaching in to investigate, she felt a hole torn into the lining.
A heavy, rectangular object was detectable inside of the lining. She flipped the bag on its side and the object came sliding down. Pulling it out of the lining, she was sure. This was certainly not a design feature of the name-brand diaper bag she had just snagged for a steal!
She Has an Eye For These Type off Things
Sarah had always been an avid collector of vintage treasures. It all started with a passion for finding a great deal. To locate these bargains, there was not a thrift shop she could pass up. Goodwill stores, garage sales, and vintage clothing shops all registered prominently on her treasure-finding radar.
When she began to accumulate more than she could ever use or gift, her bargain-shopping hobby morphed into something new. She realized other people might want to buy the rare and special items she fastidiously uncovered day in and day out. But this diaper bag was different. It contained a treasure inside of a treasure.
She Found Her Passion
When a passion becomes a calling you work industriously, out of love for what you do. When Sarah began selling a few of her finds, she realized it was generating more income than she imagined it would. So, like many entrepreneurs, she launched a Facebook business page. Her business was officially named, Sarah’s Southern Oregon 2nd Hand Deals.
Her Facebook business page — Sarah’s Southern Oregon 2nd Hand Deals — proved to be so successful that it started generating a steady stream of supplemental income. She worked hard, traveling to the local Goodwill stores several times a week to find that special item. Some days were good, and she’d snag designer dresses, shoes, and handbags for just a few dollars. But other days weren’t as easy.
It's Way Harder Than it Looks
Shopping for deals is harder than it looks. Many times, upon spotting a gently used item with a popular brand name, and offered for only a few dollars, Sarah’s hopes would soar, only to crash in vain. Turning over the item, perhaps a stylish jeans jacket, for instance, would reveal a disappointing ripped seam. This is exactly what happened when she got that designer-label diaper bag home.
But it looked absolutely perfect, and for 3 bucks, how could she go wrong?
The Designer Diaper Bag
The designer diaper bag retailed for $200 in its day! And since it was made more than 20 years ago, Sarah knew well by her trade, that it was also a vintage item. What luck! She discovered a high-end designer bag in good condition. If it was less than 20 years old, she knew, it would only be considered “retro,” but this bag was absolutely, verifiably vintage.
How much could she sell it for? She knew the numbers exactly, and the calculations filled her thoughts. Without thinking of much more, she gave the clerk the $3 and left with the glorious prize in her hand. It wasn’t until she got home that she started wondering if something wasn’t quite right.
Something About the Bag Was Fishy
“I was cleaning it and just noticed something heavy shaking around in there,” Sarah said. It made her uncomfortable because it seemed like there might be a problem to deal with.
Possibilities raced through her mind. What if it was some piece of rubbish she didn’t want to see or touch. With people’s used stuff, you never know what you’re going to find. Undeterred, she began rummaging through the bag’s pockets and compartments, but she found nothing.
She Couldn't Fight the Curiosity
Growing even more uncomfortable, she wondered if she should take it back where she found it. But that heaviness...her curiosity got the best of her.
With a flash, she spied a small hole inside the pink lining. Putting her detective hat on, she could scarcely guess that she was about to solve a seven-year-old puzzle.
Lo and Behold!
The sparkle that caught her eye came from behind the fabric. The only way to get to it was to stretch the little hole open wide enough to allow her hand. What could it be?
Perhaps a treasure upon the original treasure lay inside? Or is she tearing a larger hole for nothing? Already working away, it was too late to turn back. Finally, her hand squeezed through!
It wasn’t a travel-sized box of diaper wipes! It was too rigid and metallic. She pulled the rectangular object from under the lining and found a Sony digital camera in brand-new condition. Before resale numbers started adding up in front of her eyes, she stopped.
Finding the camera increased her curiosity. How did a camera get in the lining? Who did it belong to? What is she supposed to do with it? Did someone try to hide it? And why would they do that? Sarah had more questions than answers.
In Perfect Condition
Was it a brand-new camera? There’s only one way to find out. Afraid of what she might see yet bracing herself for the disappointment of a dead battery, she held down the power button. Voila! Chimes. A lit display.
A memory card full of images was in her hand. Amazing. The battery was in working condition! But once the pictures animated the screen, Sarah felt pangs of fear or regret. Looking through someone’s photos seemed really intrusive. But she couldn’t stop clicking through the images.
And Then it Dawned on Her
Looking through the pictures, she saw a baby and a mom together during happy times. But now the mom doesn’t have any of these pictures. How would it feel to lose the only photos you have of a child who is now older?
Someone must have lamented losing these photos. But what could she do and how could she ever return them? Who are these people, and how could she find out?
She Made Up Het Mind
Regardless, Sarah’s mind was made up. She was going to return these photos no matter what. Imagining herself in this woman’s position motivated her to take action.
Looking at the photos of mother and child reinforced the decision she made. Her mission: Find the owners and return that camera.
Thinking about the irreplaceable memories she held in her hands, Sarah flashed back to the days when her child was an infant. She thought about the stacks of photo albums she had carefully assembled.
The moments depicted, of the first bath and sitting up, and so many more, all neatly ordered and lovingly admired now and again; what if they were gone? Lost for good? The anxiety motivated her to put that detective cap back on and solve the mystery.
It Wouldn't Be Easy
It was a long shot, but maybe her plan would work. Ever since she started her 2nd Hand Deals company by using Facebook to post and sell the items, she accumulated quite a collection of followers. The likelihood that one of her contacts was the owner of the camera was pretty slim, but she went for it.
Even if the owner wasn’t one of her followers, the dire message might get to her by shares and reposts. But, then again, how likely was it that the person could be tracked down on Facebook?
She Used Social Media
Sarah composed the plea and posted it to her Facebook page: "I’m not sure if this is ok to post here, but I purchased a diaper bag at the Goodwill and found a blue Sony Cybershot camera inside with photos. Does anyone know who this family or people in these pictures are? I want to make sure they get their camera and most definitely their SD card."
Miraculously, the camera’s owner lived nearby. The wonders of social media brought her and Sarah together.
Oblivious to Her Missing Photos
It only took an hour. From the time Sarah posted the message, to the time Katie Connor replied. Amazingly, Katie was one of her followers. But she was very confused and said she had no idea what Sarah was talking about.
Sarah sent a DM to Katie explaining that she had her camera and the SD card loaded with photos. Katie replied that she hadn’t lost any photos. So, Sarah decided to send Katie some of the pictures, just to be sure.
Lost and Found
She was right. Katie had lost those photos. Believing they were gone forever, she practically burst into tears seeing those pictures of her son! The memories came rushing back.
The two met at a local Target store. What an emotional reunion Sarah brought about!
“Thank you!” An ecstatic Katie practically shouted, amazed and relieved. Sarah handed the missing camera to her.
“I think we thought it was long gone!” When Katie told Sarah how long the camera had been missing, Sarah was shocked. She never expected it could have gone missing so many years.
It Had Been Long Gone
The camera had been gone since 2010. Katie’s baby was seven years old by the time of the reunion! Sarah found the camera inside of the Goodwill treasure diaper bag in 2017. It’s amazing it had not been found in all those years!
Katie, for one, was super excited about taking those photos home, so she and her son could look back at those years when he was just an infant. With Sarah’s miraculous find, now this was possible.
The Good Samaritan
The local paper called Sarah a “Good Samaritan.” Sarah was humbled. She did what anyone else would do. “I didn’t think of it as a big deal,” Sarah told the local paper, “I would think that anyone else would do it, but I guess maybe nowadays that isn’t the case.”
And, as for Katie, she feels indebted to Sarah for her act of kindness and thankful a good citizen tracked her down. Doing the right thing comes naturally to some people!
Elmer’s Touching Story
One day on the streets is like the next. People bustle by. Hands in pockets, eyes averted. They avoid eye contact with a steadfast resolve. Scurrying back from lunch hour, or rushing to the shopping district, who knows where they’re going or what they’re thinking. Their busy minds, their normal lives, it all felt foreign to Elmer.
Elmer worried about his next meal. He worried about where he would sleep at night and feared waking up to authorities clearing away his encampment. Suddenly, his distressing thoughts up and left. He was laser-focused on a strange item that made its way to the sidewalk. What could it be?
The Paper That Caught His Eye
Perhaps it’s a lucky lottery ticket, he considered. Elmer was filled with hope. Destiny, freedom from the concrete, a new life; the ideas swirled rapidly. Just then a gust blew under that piece of paper he spotted. It flipped and swirled like the thoughts in his mind.
Keeping a close eye on the slip of paper as it dived and curled, he followed it where it blew. At last, the wind let it rest on the sidewalk, and he picked it up. Reading the lettering nearly caused him to collapse. Sitting down to steady himself, he stared at it in awe.
This Could Really Help Him Out
It was like finding money on the ground! Looking it over, again and again, reading the details written in black ink, he realized it was a check. The sum could save him.
The check was signed, and the amount was specified, but the recipient was left blank. Elmer knew that this check could be cashed without a problem.
He Couldn't Believe His Eyes
Looking at the row of zeros and counting them to be sure, this check was not written for $10.00 or $100.00. No, the amount was $10,000! Clearly written in someone’s handwriting, it reads, “Ten-thousand dollars and no/100s.”
He looked to find someone searching for a dropped item, but people flowed by, as usual, with many other thoughts on their minds than a lost piece of paper. The sum tempted him. He felt scared and excited. What was the universe telling him?
He Didn't Rush to Cash It
Roberta Haskie, CEO and President of Outreach Realty Services and Outreach School of Real Estate, sat at her desk, busily planning her day. Elmer, just a few blocks away, stood staring at that check, taut in both hands when suddenly he decided he should stash it away in a pocket to keep it safe.
Roberta worked her way up in the Real Estate world. It was a tough ascent, but worth the climb.
Started From the Bottom
Roberta’s ascent began from the very bottom. Like Elmer, she once struggled for survival. Homeless and alone, and with a child she had to care for while she was practically a child herself. At 17, this was her fate.
Everything changed for her when she received an internship at Yale University. Clawing her way out of poverty was not easy, and she will never forget her time spent homeless, living on the street with her young child.
He Knew What He Needed to Do
Curiously, Elmer pulled the check from his pocket to take another look. He flipped it over and found a phone number. He could not know that it was Roberta’s phone number, and Roberta did not yet know it was missing.
Their worlds were being pulled together. Elmer was tumbling through an unknown fate. He looked at that phone number again, and with a deep sigh, he knew what he needed to do.
Tracking down a payphone, Elmer slid one of the coins he had collected into the slot. Instead of no answer and his coins released back to him, a woman’s voice answered. He told Roberta what he had found.
Listening with as much patience and calm as she could muster, with her thoughts rushing in anxious flight, she collected herself and planned a meeting time and place. Inside she was frantic. She knew the sum of the check and the thought of it carelessly misplaced was making her angry at her own negligence.
Walking over to meet Elmer, she was astounded by his honesty and by the luck that blessed her. Like a miracle or divine intervention, it seemed to Roberta.
When she met up with Elmer and his friend, he handed the check to her. Documenting this momentous occasion, Roberta snapped photos and posted the story of Elmer’s goodwill to her Facebook page. Then she heard something that took her aback.
He Had a Rocky Path
In sheer shock, she listened to Elmer’s story. It wasn’t Elmer who could admit his horrible place in life. But his friend went on and on about how long Elmer had been living on the streets and about the difficulties of homelessness.
Roberta, with memories flashing back, didn’t need to hear about how terrible it is. All she could think about was how she could repay that honorable man.
It Was Destiny
Roberta was realizing their random meeting must have a deeper meaning. The universe was saying something to her, and she was trying to understand its message.
So much gratitude! What if that check had landed in different hands? She was so thankful! She told the men to stay right there as she hurried back to her office to get her checkbook.
A Check Wouldn't Solve All of His Problems
As she wrote out the check, Roberta described her own story. With empathy and compassion, she told Elmer about her desperate times, barely surviving with a child to feed.
She told him about the strength and willpower she harnessed to climb out of her misfortune. But after she handed him the check, she realized, by experience, that money would only be a temporary respite. Then it dawned on her that she could help him out with the bigger-picture problem.
The bank teller refused to cash Elmer’s check. Just one look at his disheveled condition and she knew he was homeless. Everything was legit. He showed her his identification, the check was clearly written out to him. But the teller sniffed out fraudulence on him and insisted on investigating further.
After a call to Roberta, the bank was able to process the transaction. Roberta invited Elmer back to her office. He was to arrive in two weeks.
The Viral Post
Roberta’s Facebook post went viral. People were so impressed with the story of a homeless man returning a blank check that he had acquired somewhat of a following. Only Roberta knew about it.
When he met her at the office, he learned all about the groundswell of support. He was also floored by the huge show of encouragement at the office. A multitude of people cheered for him when he entered. And then he received an even bigger surprise!
It's Time to Learn How to Fish
“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” This ancient proverb guided Roberta. She told Elmer that she is going to teach him how to fish.
Unveiling her proposal for carrying out this plan was part of the day’s purpose. She also unveiled a certificate of recognition presented to Elmer by a poverty nonprofit organization called Ms. Millionaire Mindset.
Time to Break the Curse
She planned to teach him how to escape poverty, once and for all. The first step was to enroll him at her real estate school, free of charge.
Once enrolled, he would have the chance to free himself of the poverty cycle, just as she had. But then she shocked Elmer with the biggest surprise yet.
A place to live?! Roberta had already paid the rent in full. He was going to move into an apartment with a fully paid 6-month lease. A safe, clean place of his very own!
Overwhelmed with emotion and rendered speechless, Elmer threw his arms around her and tried not to sob. Roberta was like a guardian angel who had changed his life forever. Now it was his turn to thank her, but where to start?
That's Not All
More surprises were yet to come. When Roberta told him there is a job interview available at her colleague’s real estate firm whenever he felt ready, he blurted out, “I’m ready now!”
In a couple of weeks, Roberta heard some news that showed her good deeds had indeed come to fruition.
Elmer studied hard to pass the real estate exam. In anxious anticipation, the two waited for the results. It would be the first step toward being a certified real estate agent.
After many classes and conscientious studying, Elmer held a mighty hope. When the envelope with the results arrived, he held the paper tremulously as he and Roberta looked at the fortune the numbers revealed.
It's Official Now
A huge sigh of relief greeted the scores. What an accomplishment! What a climb. Just months ago, he lived on the streets, but today he is a proud member of the National Association of Realtors.
His dream to escape homelessness came true, and then some! All thanks to Roberta’s help and his rightful decision to return that lost check. Doing the right thing paid off for this man. The universe responded to his good deed and returned a fortuitous transformation.
Teaching Elmer How To Fish
Roberta decided to enroll Elmer in her successful real estate school, free of charge of course! He would now learn the skills of the trade.
She was delighted about the opportunity to teach Elmer how to pull himself out of the poverty cycle, as she knew what it was like being in the same position years ago. But that wasn't it, Roberta then went on to present him with an even bigger surprise!
The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Roberta told Elmer that she found an apartment for him to live in for the next six months. And fully paid the rent for that duration.
Elmer’s face crumpled with emotion, he couldn't believe it. He was literally out of words, he just leaned over to Roberta and gave her a hug hoping to convey it would even slightly his gratitude. Roberta had completely changed his life for the better. How could he possibly ever thank her?
Setting Him Up For a Fresh Start
Roberta didn't stop there. As if she hadn't done enough already, she had also got him a job interview at her friend’s real estate firm. Once he felt like he was ready, he could head out and pursue a career in real estate.
And guess what? It only took two weeks for her to see the results of all her good deeds for her new friend. Elmer came back to her some amazing news.
The Final Results
The two waited in anticipation for the final test results of the real estate exam to come in, which would mean that Elmer would officially become a licensed real estate agent.
Elmer had attended all his real-estate classes diligently and studied very hard. The moment of faith had arrived, the results were finally in. Roberto paused and took a deep breath, then flipped the test results over so they could see them together.
His Life Forever Changed
At that moment, Roberto had the widest grin in the world...Elmer passed his exam! The two were elated about the great news. Now, Elmer was all set to go out on his new chosen path. Who have guessed that this would happen all thanks to a blank check he found on the street.
His honorable decision to return it to its owner seemed to have set off a chain of events that would end up changing his destiny. The day had finally come, and he tearfully blurted to Roberta, “I’m ready now!” Today, Elmer is a member of the National Association of Realtors, is an active real-estate agent, and couldn’t be happier!