My library card transports me anywhere, even to outer space and inside to my deepest thoughts. It gives me access to the latest news, digital devices and many other library services.

But recently I discovered another valuable reason for my local library card.

I decided to take a quick trip to St. Louis (where I used to live) to see family and friends and see a couple of Cardinal baseball games. The easy four-and half-hour drive from Nashville made it possible to go up one day, see a night game, an afternoon game and then return home.

On the return trip, I stopped at a rest area and got back on to Interstate 57. Two hours later, I stopped again to refuel and grab a bite. I then realized my wallet was not in my pocket.

I searched the car hoping it had fallen inside the seat. The only time I was outside the car would have been at that rest area. That was two hours back toward St. Louis, and it was getting dark.

Going back to see if my wallet was still on the pavement at a highly frequented rest area seemed unlikely. While at the rest area, I noticed that the employee was just closing the kiosk window, so there would be no one to call even if they had a number to call.

I called my wife to bounce a few ideas off her. She thought calling AAA might help. AAA did actually assist me with numbers to the rest area, the local police department and the Illinois State Police.

Thirty minutes after resigning myself to my fate, I received a call back from the State Police. The desk officer was very cordial but expressed doubt that they could do anything. He did offer to send a nearby patrolman to the rest area and take a look around, just in case. The patrolman called in 15 minutes with no news, that he’d searched the parking area, inside the building and the restrooms. I commended him for his efforts and kept driving toward home.

The next morning, I noticed there was a phone message. It was from the local library. I immediately started thinking of all the books I had checked out, and maybe I’d forgotten to return them. But that wasn’t it at all. The library employee stated that someone had called them after hours to report that they had found my wallet and called the number on my library card.

Unbelievable. What a relief.

A number for “Rick” was provided for me to contact. I had forgotten that my library card was in my wallet. My library handled the situation by taking down “Rick’s” information, contacting me to put the ball in my court.

I have a new appreciation for that card.

I called Rick and his partner, Linda, as they were traveling from Illinois to Florida. I remember seeing two people sitting at a picnic table at the rest area, and they said that was them. Rick saw me leave and then noticed my wallet. It apparently fell out of my pocket when I left my vehicle.

They looked for phone numbers to call me to no avail; there was no one to leave it with at the rest area kiosk; so, they looked for other identification that might provide a contact number for me. Thus, the library card seemed to be the logical choice.

Even after making that call to the library, they tried to locate me on Interstate 57 as they traveled south, looking for my small, dark car. Can’t you just imagine someone pulling alongside your car going 70 miles an hour, waving you down with a wallet that you did not know – at that time – that you had lost? That would have been comical.

They offered to go to the closest post office to mail it to me if my driver’s license address was still valid. I offered to send them a gift card for their good deed. They were adamant in refusing any compensation.

As fortune would have it, the same thing had happened to Rick, and a person did the same gracious deed for him. He stated he was repaying that kind gesture that he had been a beneficiary of so many years previously.

Yes, I was lucky. More than that, though, this whole experience provides proof that goodness prevails so many more times than what we hear in those flashy news bites.

Moreover, Rick and Linda were just as excited that they found me and were able to help. My lesson from this experience is to look for more of these examples of good will and pass them on.

And, of course, hang on to (and use) my library card!

John Patrick retired to Cheatham County in 2010 and now considers himself a hobby farmer with a blueberry problem.

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