Sons get a real lesson in honesty

August 12, 2007|By JOEL HUFFER

It was my turn to write the column for this space, and as of Wednesday I still had no idea what I was going to write.

But then something fell into my lap.

Well, actually, it fell off the roof of my car.

With temperatures expected to reach the high 90s, I was taking my two sons to my mother's house to spend a few hours in her swimming pool. I rounded them up and headed out the door, arms piled high with swimsuits, towels, pool toys, snacks, drinks and sunscreen.

The boys got situated in their car seats, we double-checked to made sure we weren't forgetting anything and then we drove the 25 minutes to Grandmom's.

When we got there, I discovered the spare key to my wife's car on the roof of my Jeep. I must have put it there when I was moving a car seat between vehicles.


(You might think I was amazed to see that the key made the 16-mile journey without falling off the roof. But, as embarrassing as it is to admit, I once drove to Williamsport from Deep Creek Lake - a distance of 115 miles - with a set of keys on the roof of the same vehicle.)

After retrieving the spare key, I began to wonder: What else might have been on the roof? What might not have made it the whole way?

Then it hit me. My wallet was missing.

Had I laid it on the roof along with the spare key? Or with my arms full of everything else had I left it at home on the kitchen counter or bedroom dresser?

When I told my mother and sister what had happened, they suggested I get back in the car and reverse my route, looking for my wallet along the road. I chose not to, figuring that if it had fallen off the roof it was probably gone for good.

If it wasn't at home, I'd call the bank and credit card companies to close my accounts, endure the lines at the MVA for a new driver's license and deal with the inconveniences brought about by my own stupidity.

We spent about three hours at my mom's, and I didn't think about my wallet again until the drive home. As I reversed my route, I kept my eyes open, seriously doubting I would discover my wallet. And I didn't.

We got home to find my wife's car unexpectedly gone. Less than a minute later, as I was opening the front door, she pulled in the driveway.

The boys wasted no time.

"Daddy lost his wallet," one said. "It fell off the roof," the other added.

She already knew. The missing wallet was in her hand.

It had made it as far as Downsville Pike before falling off the roof. An honest man on the way to his mother's to do some work around her house found it in the road.

The woman got our number from the phone book, called our house and spoke to my wife, who drove across town to retrieve the wallet. She said the woman was friendly and spoke of how her son had been raised in the church and was taught to be honest and trustworthy.

Since my sons were part of the experience, I used it as an opportunity to reinforce those same values with them. They're only 5 and 7, but they understand how it would feel to lose something of value.

Maybe some day, they will find something that someone has lost and return it to its rightful owner. Nothing would make me more proud.

Joel Huffer is managing editor of The Morning Herald. He can be reached by calling 301-791-7587 or by e-mail at

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