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Column: The kindness of strangers

All too often, I have to write about bad things done by bad people. Frankly, it gets a little old after a while. So when something good happened to me last weekend, I figured I was only due to write a column. A column about someone good.

Really, I don't know too much more about this woman, other than her name is Renee. At least, I think that's how she spells it. I think she lives in Rosemount, but I'm not sure. All I can say about her, for sure, is she saved me a lot of headache and gave me piece of mind with one simple gesture.

Here's what happened:

Saturday was my goddaughter's third birthday party, up in New Brighton. On my way from Farmington, I had a plan. I was going to stop in Rosemount and get gas, then stop by Cub to pick up a Valentine treat for my goddaughter and her sister. I was in the whole "move north" mode, trying to pick off a few errands as I made my way to the party.

But I only got as far as Holiday when things turned me back south. I got gas. I bought a quart of oil and topped off my oil. A gentleman next to me asked how my car -- at 10 years and 183,000 miles -- ran. We visited a few minutes, I closed the hood of my car. I got in and headed to Cub.

But evidentially, I left my billfold behind. I had strategically placed it in the headlight well while I tinkered around. Only, in my visiting, I became distracted and forgot all about it. It fell, and I did not realize it was gone until I arrived at Cub.

Three trips between Cub and Holiday and two separate attempts to dig through the garbage at Holiday later, I figured it was time to take the necessary precautions. I turned right onto Highway 3 and headed back to Farmington. Went to Anchor Bank, closed my account. Saw a friend, Tony, on my way in and mentioned my dilemma. "That sucks," he replied. And it did.

Getting back into my car, I noticed I had a message on my cell phone. It was from this wonderful woman named Renee, who had found my billfold. I immediately phoned her back.

She apologized for sifting through the contents of my billfold, explaining she was looking for a contact number. Turns out, I have nothing in my billfold for such emergencies as leaving it lying in a gas station parking lot. But she was tenacious. Seeing a few checks written to the Farmington American Legion, and a business card for the same, she took a chance and called there. Asked if anyone knew me. Explained she had my wallet.

It turns out my friend, Tony, whom I had run into at Anchor Bank and who is one of the assistant managers at the Legion, took the call. He passed along my number, and before long, Renee and I were making arrangements to meet so I could reclaim it.

I offered her $20 for her kindness, but really I just wanted to give her a great big hug. She turned down the money, saying she was just glad she was able to help me. I'm glad, too.

For nearly two hours, I thought about what I would have to cancel, how soon I could get a new driver's license. I was nervous about my finances, thinking worst-case scenario right from the get-go. I admit, I am a bit of a control freak, but for those few hours, I was at a loss. It scared the bejeezus out of me. And then Renee called.

If I could say thank you again and again, I would. Maybe that's why I felt so compelled to share my story. It turns out, in this crazy world we live in, there are still good people out there. People who are kind and honest. I don't get to write about them too often, but I'm glad I have the opportunity now.