Wal-Mart employees are #8216;heroes#039; to traveler
Published 12:00 am Monday, July 3, 2006
Sometimes an event happens that helps restore a person's faith in humanity.
For a traveler who stopped in the Camellia City in early May, it was a visit to the Greenville Wal-Mart that ultimately made a big impact on her life.
Karol Stevens of Philadelphia, Tennessee and her husband had stopped in Greenville on May 8. They wanted to do some shopping before heading back home from their trip to Biloxi, Miss.
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In spite of medical problems and the mounting bills they've created for her, Stevens said she had decided to go on the casino trip.
There was always the chance Lady Luck would be with her.
“I only play the nickel slots. I have never won anything…and I won the jackpot. $1,400!” Stevens recalled.
Back at home the next morning, Stevens wanted just one more chance to look at her winnings before they went to pay medical bills.
There was one big problem. Her wallet was missing, and with it, Stevens' $1,400, debit card, driver's license and insurance cards.
Needless to say, she panicked.
“The only place I had taken my wallet inside was the Wal-Mart in Greenville. When I finally calmed down, I called the Wal-Mart. I was still crying, but God was looking out for me,” Stevens said.
It seems some local good Samaritans were also looking out for the out-of-towner.
Greenville Wal-Mart employee George Nelson was gathering up shopping carts in the store parking lot when he made an unexpected find.
“I was pushing carts in from the cart reservoir when I noticed a wallet in top of one of the carts. I didn't look inside the wallet – I took it right in to the office,” Nelson said.
“After George brought the wallet in to me, I started going through it. I was trying to find a phone number or some type of contact information. I did find a phone number on something, either a check or deposit slip, but I didn't get any answer,” Diana Johnson of Wal-Mart explained.
When Stevens later called and talked to Johnson, she found out her wallet was indeed safe and secure back in Greenville.
“She asked me if all the money was there. I asked her how much, because there was a LOT of money in it. I counted it and it was exactly the $1,400 she was missing. She was very, very happy to hear that,” Johnson said.
Stevens was also amazed to learn Johnson had already been trying to reach her.
“Diana could have just tossed it into the lost and found at work and that would have been the end of it. They really went above and beyond for me,” Stevens said.
Johnson told Stevens the store would be happy to send her money to her “anyway she wanted us to do it – check, money order, whatever.”
The wallet's owner asked Johnson to simply pack it in a box and mail it to Tennessee.
“I boxed up the wallet and sent it overnight – and that was really all my part of it,” Johnson said.
When he heard how much cash was in the wallet, Nelson said he “almost hit the floor.”
“If I had lost a wallet with that kind of money in it, I'd be hoping someone would turn it in. That's just doing the right thing.”
Store manager Bill McCrary said his employees' honesty and initiative in helping Karol Stevens made him very proud.
“These days, it is amazing for a wallet to be found completely intact like that. Here George had $1,400 in his hand, and he turned it all in,” McCrary said.
The store manager said Stevens sent Nelson a $100 reward for returning the wallet.
“George asked me, ‘ Can I keep this money?' I told him, ‘Sure, I know she wants you to have it.' George smiled and said, ‘I thank her, ‘cause I sure can use it,'” McCrary said.
“He could have had a whole lot more. That really touched me.”
Stevens describes the experience as an “enlightening” one.
“You just don't hear about places like that anymore, not even in my hometown. It really restored my faith in humanity. I think the people in your town are kind and honest in general,” Stevens said.
“It would have been so easy for either of them to slip out $100 here or there. Those two are true heroes to me.”
Both Johnson and Nelson say they wouldn't have handled the situation any other way.
“That's the way I was raised. I wouldn't want someone to mistreat me, so I am not going to do it to them,” Johnson said.
Nelson also said it was his upbringing that helped him make the right decision.
“My parents raised me not to lie, cheat or steal, but to work hard for what I have. That's what I try to do on a daily basis.”
As for Stevens, she plans to make Greenville a stopping point on any future trips to the Gulf Coast.
“Anytime I come through, I am definitely going to stop and see those folks,” Stevens said.