All Aboard – My Wallet Story

All Aboard – My Wallet Story

IMG_2054I find myself on the train again today on this gorgeous October day. Reminds me that I’ve been wanting to tell this story about the day I lost my wallet.

Took the Amtrak down to New York City in August to attend the Curve Expo Lingerie Trade Show. It was a typical journey to get down there from Vermont – woke up at 5, picked up Julie in Manchester at 6:30, and drove that hour and a half drive to get to the train station in Rensselaer (a.k.a. Albany) to catch our 8:20 a.m. train. We sat on the “wrong side,” but that was ok as we bumped into a friend of Julie’s who knows a lot about retail and we sat in those seats that face each other and had a really productive and interesting conversation.

Penn Station is kind of like Oz, especially when you haven’t been out of Vermont in a while. We (and by that I mean Julie) easily summoned a cab, and then you know that moment when you plop down in the back seat of a taxi and you reach inside your purse for your wallet to be ready to settle up the fare? Much to my surprise, my wallet wasn’t there. The more I groped around inside my purse, the more the truth came clear. My wallet was missing.

This well-planned business trip all of the sudden took a bad twist.  As if taking three days away from her family wasn’t enough, Julie now had to cover the cab ride fare… and who knows how many more expenses to come if my wallet wasn’t to be found. Lila was heading down later that day. Three of us in NYC for a trade show with no JOY corporate credit card.  Just great!

Julie grabbed the cab fare once we got to the Javits Center and I eased myself down onto the floor with every bag surrounding me. No wallet to be found. Later on I learned that Julie was making a mental list of phone calls I would need to make to cancel cards, etc as I was coming up empty-handed. Is that a great manager or what?

I called the Amtrak 800- phone number I found online and Gina in California quickly picked up and thanked me for calling Amtrak. I explained my situation and Gina put me on hold and called Rensselaer. Within a minute or two, she came back and let me know that it had not been found. She then gave me the direct 518- number to Rensselaer so I could leave my info directly.

A man answered the 518 number on the first ring, thanking me for calling Amtrak. Like Gina, so nice. I started in on my story, and he stopped me soon into it.  He explained that he was the one who was on the phone with Gina. He confirmed the details of where I last remembered having it (the Newsstand) and got my contact information.  He’d call me if it was found.  Before letting me go, he offered up the direct 212- phone number to Penn Station and wished me luck. He meant it.

The gentleman who picked up at Oz – I mean Penn Station – was similarly nice. More than nice – all these Amtrak people – helpful, compassionate, empathetic to my plight.  He had heard about me already too – I wonder if Amtrak has some internal online chat room that informs different stations and employees of customers with problems?  He kindly directed me to lost and found – offering that direct phone number. And that’s where Michael picked up. Again, on the first ring.

Thank you for calling Amtrak Penn Station Lost and Found, this is Michael. How can I help you?

Hi Michael, my name is Joy…

I paused for a second.  Did I have to start the story again? Did I have to ask if anyone found a wallet?  Nope.  No, I didn’t

Hi Joy…um yeah…yes…we have your wallet.

I was blown away.  Michael. Amtrak.  My wallet.

Michael continued…

And Joy, you had $263 dollars and 16 cents in your wallet. What we’ve done is taken the cash out and put a voucher in there that you can take to any Amtrak window and they will give you your money. We just don’t like to have cash sitting around in the Lost and Found.

I borrowed some money from Julie and hopped a cab back to Penn Station. Michael knew me by sight.  Turns out there’s a woman named Joy who works in the lost and found too. She and I gave that knowing glance that only people named things like Joy and Grace understand.  Michael handed over my wallet with all credit cards and my license intact and I proceeded to an Amtrak window and retrieved my $263.16 from another guy with a smile.

Just passed Yonkers so I’m almost to the city today.  Oz awaits.  I’m going to see if Michael and Joy are working.  Thank you, Amtrak.  You inspire me.



Joy Proft is the owner of JOY all things underthings in Manchester, Vermont.  She doesn’t know who found her wallet or where it was found, but is grateful everyday for the kindness, help, inspiration, and love.