Most People Are Honest

By Peter Charles

It was a normal business day for me. I crossed London from West to East by tube, bus, and for sheer enjoyment, river bus. Arriving at Canary Wharf just in time for my meeting, I was asked for ID by security. At that point — to my horror — I realised my wallet and I had parted company. That was the day I met Doreen.

I like my wallet: it is well designed and looks good, a gift from my wife. And in it is everything a fraudster could want.

Running back onto the street I hoped it had fallen from my jacket lining after I had stepped off the bus, but there was no sign of it. My long-time colleague Shirley, who was joining me for this meeting, said "Ring Clare". Shirley thinks — as many of us do — that my PA Clare has magical powers. I decide not to cancel my cards. Clare rings the bus company, who she says, "were really lovely" but could not contact the driver. Fearing the wallet had gone but determined to focus on the client meeting I returned to the building.

After, I rang Clare again. The line was engaged and I immediately thought, "Brilliant she has found it."

A few minutes later she called to tell me that Doreen has my wallet in East Ender's Pie and Mash shop at East India Dock Road. I had no idea who Doreen was but it was incredible news. of course I had to go at once to meet her and be reunited with my wallet.

My next meeting would have to be cancelled. But Leigh's response: "I'll drive you there" meant we could both have our meeting and be reunited with my wallet, discussing business as we drove.

Of course, I started by thanking Doreen for finding and having my wallet, but she brushed away my gratitude. She was much more concerned that I may have cancelled my cards and therefore put myself to unnecessary trouble.

Finally, we settled down and I heard how Doreen had found my wallet. Doreen uses a shopping basket with wheels and as she left the bus her trolley ran over it and propelled it onto the pavement. She noticed the wallet tumbling out of the bus and picked it up.

In the Pie and Mash shop where she stops regularly for lunch, Doreen looked in the wallet, found the Peter Charles business card, rang the number and spoke to Clare.

Full of gratitude, I offered to pay for Doreen's lunch. She refused but we sat and talked, swapping stories about other times when we had found money or valuables and given them back.

Driving away from the Pie and Mash shop, I reflected that Doreen reminded me that most people in the world are honest. And I suspect most people have a Doreen story, where a stranger did you a favour by being honest, for no other reason than…well… they are honest.

So here's to Doreen and the spirit of London. Thank you.

Also by Peter Charles