It was one of those days. She got up at 5 a.m. to bake cookies for her son’s class event at school. The cookies burned. She threw on some clothes and rushed to Kroger, grabbed bakery cookies to replace the trashed homemade batch, paid and hurried back home. The household was in a tizzy, everyone scrambling to get ready for work and school.
Worn out like it was the end of the day rather than a day just getting started, she dropped the kids off at school and dashed to the office, the Discover Denton Welcome Center where she is the retail manager. She is Randi Sue Surratt, and the day was Thursday.
Barely on time for the CVB manager breakfast, Randi Sue breathed deeply and tried to relax, hoping the worst of the day was already behind her. That Thursday was still young, however, and more was yet to come.
The managers were meeting at Chestnut Tree, just a couple of doors down the sidewalk from the Welcome Center. Thinking she’d travel light and leave her huge purse locked in the desk, she reached for her wallet. Then she dug for her wallet. Panic rose like bile as she emptied the purse atop her desk to no avail. The wallet was missing.
Amidst the scurry and flurry of the morning’s harried beginning, Randi Sue’s husband had pressed $1,000 in her hand to deposit in the bank later that day. She recalled stuffing the cash into her wallet on the way out the door to Kroger. She remembered using some of the bills to pay for the bakery cookies. Then what?
Randi Sue tried to calm her racing heart and think. When was the last time she saw her wallet? Did she leave it at the store? With only minutes before the manager meeting would start, she called Kroger.
No wallet found or turned in, they told her. Her hope shattered. She felt physically sick about the impact that lost money would have on her family. But, she pulled herself together and darted to the meeting.
Randi Sue’s buoyant spirit almost always reflects in her face with a bright, genuine smile. That’s how the rest of us knew right away something was off. She was unusually quiet, downcast and not ready to divulge what her morning had dished out thus far. To top it off, the meeting held some tense moments, as strategic meetings comprised of Type-A leaders can do.
Randi Sue could feel a meltdown coming if something didn’t give. Soon.
A voice mail popped up on her phone. As soon as the meeting was over, she returned to the office to check it. It was Kroger. She called back and learned that someone had found the wallet in a grocery cart in the parking lot and turned it in.
“Is there any money in it?” she asked, unable to wait to find out.
“A lot,” said the Kroger rep.
Hope soared anew as she raced to Kroger on University Drive. Unbidden tears streamed down her cheeks in relief as she counted the cash. Every dollar was there. Her ID and credit cards, all there. Incredible! Randi Sue thanked Kroger and wished she could express her gratitude to the anonymous, honest hero who had all but saved her life on that dark Thursday.
I loved this story when Randi Sue shared it with me. I was sorry for all she had dealt with that morning, but I felt exuberant about the outcome. My faith in the goodness of people was renewed, and so was Randi Sue’s.
In a time such as this when people are extreme, polarized, mean and anything but tolerant of what they don’t agree with, Randi Sue’s story breathes hope. There are still good people out there. There are still heroes who don’t require a medal or even a mention to do the right thing. They do it simply because it is right.
Perhaps this is an original, independent happening. This is Denton, so it’s possible. I prefer to think of it as #dentoning of the highest degree. And I like to imagine this story will remind us all that we are in this life together. We must be there for each other, support each other and have each other’s backs. We must move forward as a people. It’s how we became Denton and how this nation was born.
To the anonymous hero of this story, Randi Sue and her family are grateful. And so are the rest of us. You have demonstrated that kindness and honesty, even to a complete stranger, is alive and well. We needed that.