April 20--A kind act by a stranger has made Larry Ellis a cynic no more.
Ellis, a Vietnam War veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, said his view on human kindness has improved since a Good Samaritan returned his lost wallet.
"Being a Vietnam veteran who was born and raised in the South Bronx (in New York City), I generally think people don't go out of their way to help others, so I was pleasantly surprised when the gentleman who found my wallet went out of his way to get it back to me," said Ellis, who lost the billfold several weeks ago after leaving it on the roof of his car after vacuuming it around midnight at a car wash on Northwest 13th Street and Sixth Avenue.
After leaving the car wash, he went to a store to get a cappuccino, and then left there headed to the Walmart near the Florida Highway Patrol station in northwest Gainesville. He missed his turn and had to make a U-turn, and it was where he made the U-turn that an Alachua County Public Works employee (whose name Ellis couldn't remember Thursday) found his wallet while riding with other workers.
"I had gone back to the car wash thinking I would find the wallet there because it was late at night, and I knew nobody had probably been by there," Ellis said. "When I didn't find the wallet, I just assumed I would never get it back."
The next morning, Ellis received a call from someone in the office at Cobblestone apartments where he lives to inform him someone had called to report his wallet had been found.
"I was getting ready to go replace my driver's license and other paperwork that was in my wallet," Ellis said.
Ellis said he visits the car wash several times a week to vacuum cigarette ashes out of his black Mercedes Benz sedan, and found a wallet on a vacuum several days after losing his, which was returned to him still with the $25 that was in it.
"When I found the wallet after I had lost mine, I initially thought to myself that I had been blessed with $20 because it was $20 in it, but the Lord spoke to me and said, 'Are you kidding me,'" said Ellis, who moved to Gainesville about four years ago from New York after retiring as a substance abuse therapist and counselor.
Ellis said the message he took away from finding the wallet is the Lord wants people to help others.
After failing to find the person whose wallet he found, Ellis turned it in to the police -- with the $20.
He also bought the man who found his wallet $30 worth of scratch-off lottery tickets as a reward for his good deed.
"I told him how grateful I was that he cared enough to find me and give me my wallet," Ellis said. "If you lose a wallet with a penny in it in New York, you won't get it back. I'm beginning to feel that society and the world isn't as bad as I think it is. When I asked the man why he went through the trouble to return my wallet with the money still in it, he said, 'I knew it wasn't mine.'"
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