Laura Diers of Boone sent this letter to college freshman Wes Monroe when she returned his wallet. (Special to The Register)
(DES MOINES REGISTER) -- Laura Diers happened to spot the derelict dark brown leather
wallet last month along the westbound entrance ramp to U.S. Highway 30 in Ames -
partially unfolded in a "V" shape, sitting on its side.
The first unlikely thing she did was stop to investigate and pick it up.
"I guess there wasn't a ton of thought behind it," she said.
Inside the wallet Diers found: The driver's license and college ID for
freshman Wes Monroe. A recent receipt for pricey text books.
The high school senior photo of Monroe's girlfriend, Shelby
There were no debit or credit cards or cash.
So Diers' next move was rarer still: She not only mailed the wallet to the
address on the driver's license but composed a thoughtful letter of advice and
tucked a $10 bill inside. She even promised that her bible study group of about
a dozen worshippers at Cornerstone Church in Ames would pray
Diers figured that college students always need money and encouragement. She
Googled Monroe, scanned his Facebook profile: He seemed like a "really nice
"I know it's not much, but it's always nice to have a little extra cash," she
wrote in the letter. "Enjoy a drink with a friend or put a drop of gas in your
Diers, 41, is the mother of four kids in Boone, ranging in age from a toddler
to a high school junior.
"I've been in those positions where it would've been really nice to get some
encouragement from somebody," she explained.
But she also wondered, "Maybe he'll think I'm just some crazy lady!"
The wallet arrived earlier this month at Monroe's home address in Johnston,
much to the delight of the college student's mother - her faith in humanity
Monroe rooms in the Iowa State University dorms in Ames and
commutes to the Des Moines Area Community College campus in
Boone. He explained that one harried morning en route to his psychology class,
he stuffed his debit card into his pants pocket at the gas pump but left his
wallet on top of his car. (It wasn't the first time; when he abandoned his
wallet in a similar mishap in high school, Monroe was lucky enough to retrace
his route and recover it.)
"Yeah, I'm a forgetful person," he said sheepishly.
So the wallet took a tumble when Monroe turned his car west onto Highway
Monroe considers it "absolutely amazing" that Diers took the time to show
"It takes a special individual to go out and do something like that," he
Diers, who juggles a newspaper route with child care duties at her church and
other jobs, also included a quote from motivational author Jack
Canfield of "Chicken Soup for the Soul" fame:
It's time to quit waiting
The right person to come along
The new administration to take
An absence of risk
Someone to discover
A clear set of instructions
Get on with it already!
The first reaction to this story probably is to take heart, much like
Monroe's mom did - to enjoy at least fleeting restored faith in the average
person. These heartwarming tales that crop up help convey a sense that despite
all the unavoidable violence and creeps around us, our world tends to be
populated with good people trying to do the right things.
But I was even more struck by how the wallet as a symbol happened to connect
two people and this notion of lifelong dreams, goals. I'm not much of a "Chicken
Soup" guy (as a journalist I'm required to be more acerbic), but I can
Diers at midlife finally has resolved to chase a dream she's had since age
11: learn how to train horses. Recently she began work as an apprentice trainer
at a horse farm near Boone. She was astride a quarter horse when I first phoned
to learn more about all this.
Because Diers spies the wallet, she stops to lend her seasoned perspective on
dreams and motivation to a young man who happens to be in the sweet spot in life
to chart the best possible course for his future.
So the story is not what was in the wallet. It's about which dreams and
ambitions fill Monroe's head as he carves out his education and career. (He's
dabbling in journalism and communication in his freshman year.) What's his
equivalent to horse-training, and will he seize it now? Or later?
Monroe, by the way, spent the $10 on gas.
"That's pretty much what I do with all my money - gas or food," he said.
The act of kindness by Diers and her advice are the longterm investments.
Monroe sat down earlier this week and composed a thank-you note to the woman
who found his wallet.
By Kyle Munson, Des Moines Register