What if you reached for your wallet and it was gone? Would your heart race with panic and your stomach sink from thoughts of a thief stealing your identity, your money and running up big bills on your credit cards?
In New Orleans, months before Hurricane Katrina, Carole Davis, a 69 year old Los Angeles area resident, lost her wallet three days into a two week vacation.
When she and her friends returned to their hotel by taxi at 10:30 p.m. her wallet was missing. She was panic stricken as she and they desperately searched and couldn’t find it.
They called the taxi company who called the driver, who said he hadn’t seen it. How did she feel? “My heart was in my stomach. I was frantic. My money, my ID, my credit card, my travelers’ checks,” all of it was gone. “It’s the worst feeling I ever had.”
Davis was scheduled to board a Mississippi River boat the next day and eventually to board a plane home. Since 9/11, security has become much stricter and travelers must carry ID or risk being stranded. Davis said, “I didn’t sleep at all that night. I prayed and prayed and prayed. It seemed like a hopeless situation.”
Then “God heard my prayers.”
The next morning, Davis got a call from 30 year old David Lee. Lee and his girl friend Kim Carmouche found her wallet on the floor of the taxi and through a series of calls, located her. Lee was a half hour from New Orleans but offered to drive in and meet Davis at a bank near her hotel to return her wallet.
On the phone, Davis and Lee, who is a pharmaceutical sales rep, described themselves to one another and when he walked into that bank, “I just knew instantly it was David. I ran to him and gave him a big hug. There weren’t words enough to express my gratitude.”
When she offered him a reward, he said, “No Carole, I’m not taking anything from you. I’m just glad you got your wallet back.” When I asked Lee why he wouldn’t accept a reward, he explained that returning her wallet was the right thing to do and added, “I made my mother proud.”
Davis said, “I will be for the rest of my life, eternally grateful to him. It gives you faith in humanity.”
Now our story takes an even more remarkable turn. On August 29th, 2005 Hurricane Katrina hit with tremendous force devastating New Orleans. Most of the city was under water and Lee and Carmouche and their families lost almost everything they owned.
The young couple evacuated to a hotel 80 miles away but soon returned to the New Orleans area each day to help others.
Among those who needed help were patients who had fled their homes, leaving their medications and medical cards behind. In makeshift facilities, Eye Doctors were treating people for glaucoma and other sight threatening diseases and eye medications were in short supply.
Compounding this grim situation was the vast quantity of water polluted with human and animal remains and personal waste, oil and gasoline and additional toxic chemicals. Mold, mildew and other filth, aggravated by heat and high humidity permeated everything including the air.
Thousands of people were threatened with serious eye infections and Lee sprang into action. He works for one of the world’s largest eye care product makers and he and two co-workers provided “local Eye Doctors with extra eye medication and artificial tears for the thousands of patients and displaced people who were living in high school gyms and local shelters.”
It was a Godsend to patients.
While Lee did this, he and Carmouche were also trying to account for their families, friends and others in need and to help them get emergency shelter, food and clothing.
Now our story comes full circle. Carole Davis and her friends proudly provided funds to aid Lee as he assisted people in getting temporary housing and buying clothes and other essentials during this life threatening time. They also prayed for him and as he requested, prayed for all the people of New Orleans who had lost so much.
It is wonderful that there are Good Samaritans like David Lee who come to the rescue in times of trouble. But sometimes as in New Orleans, the needs are so great, they require all of us to follow his example and be Good Samaritans.
Success Tip of the Week: Even without a crisis, you can be a Good Samaritan. For example, you could regularly visit a senior citizen assisted living center and make a few new friends. A hug from you and an opportunity to share a few stories with you would make a huge difference in their lives and add something special to your life as well.
(Editor’s Note: Thank you to Morynne Motley for sharing her friend Carole Davis’ story and for putting me in touch with Carole and with David Lee.)
In the next KazanToday, How a penniless immigrant who never spent a day in school built the largest home furnishings store in the U.S.