Lost, loaded wallet leads to newfound friendship

1403776BRIGHAM CITY — Nashlah Bayayan and Jessie Wengert love to tell the story of how their new friendship began over $1,000 — and a lot of trust.

Wengert, a Utah State University student, lost her wallet on the way to school for fall semester on Aug. 20.

She had just returned home from serving an LDS mission in Birmingham, England. Her parents had given her $1,000 to help her financially until she could find work. She stashed the cash — 10 $100 bills — in her wallet, along with credit and debit cards.

On her way to Logan, she stopped at a Phillips gas station in Brigham City.

“I remember going to the bathroom and leaving and not really thinking about it,” Wengert said.

But after driving to the Wells Fargo in Logan, she discovered her wallet was gone. She instantly became very anxious, wondering what she was going to do next.

“I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to go to school this semester, like I might have to move back home again,” Wengert recalled thinking.

She called her parents to tell them she had lost the money. They were supportive, but she still felt terrible.

Bayayan spotted the wallet when she stopped at the same gas station.

“I went to the bathroom and noticed a wallet sitting there,” she said. “I grabbed it, naturally looked inside and saw $1,000 in $100 bills just sitting there tucked away.”

“I froze,” Bayayan later wrote on Facebook. “I didn’t know what to do. $1000 in free cash is very tempting!! Should I take the money? Should I just leave the wallet there and pretend nothing ever happened? Should I take it to the girl working at the gas station? Is taking money you found stealing?! I knew I had to do something, just walking away from it wasn’t an option for me. If I handed it off to someone else, they would be equally as tempted I’m sure, so then what?!”

She took to Facebook and Google to track down the owner. Inside the wallet, she found a check and called the person who had written it and left a message. She tried several other ways to locate the wallet’s owner and eventually found an online family blog that connected her to Wengert.

In the meantime, Bayayan got a call from Wengert’s mother who had received her voice mail message. The mother was “super excited” to know the wallet had been found, but didn’t have her daughter’s phone number because she had only been back in the country for five days.

“She mentioned her daughter was frantic and crying and all that,” Bayayan wrote. “I actually kind of teared up while on the phone with her mom.”

Shortly after that, Wengert’s sister saw a message sent to her on Facebook and called Bayayan. Just 40 minutes after first realizing that her wallet was gone, Wengert recalled the phone call that she received from her sister.

“’This lady named Nash just messaged me and says she has your wallet,’ and I’m like, ‘What’s her number? Let me call her,’” Wengert said.

Wengert quickly drove to Murray to meet up with Bayayan. At a bakery, Bayayan returned the wallet to Wengert — including every last dollar.

“It was a really humbling experience, just reminded me that there are good people in the world,” Wengert said.

Bayayan called it a “pretty sweet ending!”

The two new friends say they will keep in touch and are often sending each other text messages.

“It’s given us a unique bond you can’t have with anybody else,” Wengert said.

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