Miracle on Mascoma Street

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This ran in the local paper. I hope it’ll make you smile or feel a bit warm and fuzzy.

The Miracle on Mascoma St.

By Edie Thys Morgan

I have many lists in the kitchen, but only one has a title. “The Lost” is a growing tally of mysterious disappearances that I truly mourn. Included are things like my hockey skates that were new last year, one son’s down jacket and the other son’s camera, my cell phone and one snow boot whose surviving mate prompts countless forays into the black hole of basement bins. At the bottom of the list is something that was lost so that something much more precious could be found.

My son had been filling a coin jar in the kitchen by skulking around the dryer door, and cleaning out the couch crevices. When it reached its absolute maximum capacity, he begged, “Please can we go to CoinStar?” We had exactly 30 minutes during his brother’s guitar lesson to get to Price Chopper, cash in his coins, and do our shopping. It took 10 minutes just to coax all those coins through the flat slot and into the clattering belly of the machine, but when it was all done we had a slip of paper worth $82.50, net of the 8% that goes to CoinStar. “That’s a lot of money!” I smiled at my son, who skipped gleefully through the store, slip in hand. “That’s a lot of money,” I warned, nervously monitoring his progress, and forgetting half the things I needed to buy. We checked out with a minute to spare and I tucked $82.50 into his zippered pants pocket.

Of course a seven year old has no business with $82 in his pocket. But, I rationalized, it was only for a few minutes. We just needed to make one stop, at the Lebanon Village Market for three staples I had forgotten at Price Chopper. In five minutes we circumnavigated the store, from the free sample area through produce, dairy, and of course the ice cream zone.

Not a half mile from the store I heard the shriek.
“Where’s my money?” Brakes were slammed, one voice was raised.
“You’re kidding me, right?” Then I asked the same dumb question everyone asks when you lose something: “Where did you lose it?” as if anything can be lost if you know that answer.

Back at the store a young manager accompanied us for one frantic lap, charitably conducting a CSI re-creation with my son while I urged him to “just remember!”  She took down our name and number and gave me a sympathetic look. “At this time of day it’s so busy…” She kindly let her statement trail off then added: “You never know, there are some honest people left.”

I smiled weakly and we left, still in shock. The car was silent until a small voice came from the back seat:
“I still have the 50 cents.”
I might have embraced his optimism, but I fumed.
“Maybe someone will find it,” he continued, relentlessly hopeful.
“$82 is a lot of money,” I reminded him helpfully, “and times are really tough now,” then added with zero conviction, “But like she said. You never know.”

Later, we recovered for a teaching moment. I admitted that I should not have given him the responsibility of carrying so much money and he agreed that if he actually earned the money he’d be more prepared to keep track of it. We thought of jobs he could do for friends and neighbors. The tears dried, and he was over it.

My husband was also surprisingly calm, especially considering most of the change originated from his pockets. “Look at it as your personal economic stimulus package. In 20 minutes you supported CoinStar, two local super markets and one lucky consumer.”

I called in the next day. No luck, and (by the quick reply) probably no note posted prominently with my name and number. Two days later I headed back to the market on a trumped up premise, chastising myself all the way to “Get over it!” As I placed my not quite necessities on the belt, I hesitated to break the checker’s rhythm. But I owed it to my son.

“Um, I know it’s a long shot but has anyone turned in some money?” The checker halted her autopilot scanning, and locked her eyes to mine.
“How much?” My heart skipped.
She turned away from the register reached into the safe and handed me an envelope. Inside were 6 bills, exactly $82.

Tears sprung to my eyes. I was overcome that somewhere out there–even now, when you can’t depend on a steady paycheck or GM or peanut butter–anonymous goodness exists. It felt nothing short of miraculous.

As I stood there, blathering gratitude and eternal allegiance, the checker resumed her job, seemingly unfazed and explained: “I just saw this in the safe after my break. It wasn’t there a few hours ago. There’s no note or anything, but it can’t be anything else.”

I floated to the bus stop, and when the kids had buckled themselves into the car, I could no longer contain myself.

“Do you believe in miracles? I asked them.
All three blurted at once: “Yes!”
“What’s a miracle?” I asked.
“Getting a Mercedes for free!” our young neighbor volunteered. “My grandpa told me he saw that in a magazine.”
“No, that would be a scam.” I offered a hint: “Like finding something you thought was lost forever?”
“Oh I know!” my oldest son said proudly, “Like when you lost your phone and you got a new one for free?”
“No, that’s marketing.”
They were losing patience.
“What’s this about Mom?” the nine year old cynic demanded.
“Let your brother tell you what it’s about.”
I handed him the envelope and watched his eyes widen. All three boys counted together, “Twenty, Forty, Sixty, Eighty….”
“Eighty Two dollars!” he yelled. “It is a miracle.”
Thank you, whoever you are, for giving me that.

1 thought on “Miracle on Mascoma Street”

  1. Thanks! I am super lame about checking this, but I appreciate your comment. I’m hoping to get more fascinating domestic articles up soon…about lice, Michael Jackson, etc.

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