John W. Thompson was on his way home to Haysville after visiting his mother at the Catholic Care Center in Bel Aire when he first saw the wallet.
It was lying in the southbound lanes of I-135 near the exit for 29th Street North shortly after noon on Tuesday, and vehicles kept running it over.
That bothered me, Thompson said.
Somebody might be missing that wallet, he thought, so he decided to rescue it.
He exited at 21st Street, looped back around and parked on the shoulder of the outside southbound lane, braving numerous roofing nails nearby.
I thought, Im going to get a flat tire saving this guys wallet, Thompson said.
He waited until there was a lull in traffic and grabbed the wallet from the outside lane. It had begun to split apart already from being run over so many times.
Not knowing where else to go with it, Thompson drove to the Patrol South bureau at Pawnee and Broadway and turned it in to Mandy Hebert. He hadnt taken anything out of it, he told Hebert, but officers may need to go back to I-135 and look for money or credit cards that had been knocked out of the wallet by traffic.
Hebert, the customer service clerk for Patrol South, found identification in the wallet and called the owner.
Jim Park thought it was a prank.
Yes, he had misplaced his wallet, but he was convinced it was somewhere in his house in Willowbend in northeast Wichita.
But when he started asking specific questions about the found wallet, details started falling into place. Yes, it had more than $200 in cash inside. Yes, the credit cards he mentioned were in there, too, along with other items he mentioned.
It had to be his.
Thats amazing, Park said to himself.
To Hebert, he said, I want to call this gentleman who turned this in.
Hebert offered to have Thompson call Park if he was willing to chat. Park agreed.
Minutes later, Thompson called.
Man, youre a saint, Park said he told Thompson. What a heart.
Thompson told Park where and how he found the wallet.
You risked your life for this? Park asked.
Yes, Thompson said, because when he saw credit cards and cash inside he knew it hadnt been dumped by a criminal and that it likely meant a lot to whomever had lost it.
As they continued to talk, Park learned Thompson was unemployed, having recently lost his job. At the age of 60, he was having a hard time even getting job interviews.
Park, whos 62, said he could identify with Thompson because at their ages theyve worked at a number of jobs and been through a lot.
Park picked up his wallet at Patrol South on Wednesday. As he mentally retraced his steps, Park said he realized he had left his wallet on the back bumper of his truck while he was securing the bed cover after a workout and then forgot about it.
Im committed to finding this man a job, Park said. Hes an honest man.
Thompson didnt want a cash reward for simply doing what he thought was right. But he decided to accept Parks job-search offer.
Im going to accept anything, because its a hard time in my life, Thompson said.
Park said hes heard from at least three businesses that want Thompson to apply for a job, though none have yet contacted the Good Samaritan.
Hes been real nice, Thompson said of Park.
Employers who are interested in talking to Thompson can reach him at 316-524-0709.