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Today my kids and I flew out of San Jose airport at the crack of dawn (earlier, really) for points east on United Airlines. We arrived at the airport not nearly early enough for my comfort level (less than an hour!), bags to check and long security lines to face. I love to travel and also love to have an abundance of time, but with none to spare I quickly morph into a highly stressed person.  I promised my teens, "I will calm down as soon as the bags are checked and we're through the security line".

We gave over our suitcases at the curb (luckily no wait outside – we avoided a long one inside) and got through security with about 3 minutes to spare before boarding began. We were triply careful to reclaim all of our belongings after the screening. It was not until we were seated and buckled into row 16 that I noticed that my wallet was missing! This is a huge problem,as you might imagine, in trying to pay for anything, trying to get the rental car in Burlington later today, trying to get on the next flight to Chicago on Tuesday.

Hopping up in a bit of a panic, I told the flight attendants that my wallet was gone; I thought I must have left it at the security counter by accident (truth be told, I managed to leave my tablet computer at BostonLogan airport's security area in late May and so now I don't trust myself). As fast as I could go in flip flops and a peasant skirt, I rushed down the zig zagging ramp to the gate person and explained my crisis of credentials and cash. He told me to hurry to security. I ran – I'm sure I was a sight at 6:00 am running through the terminal – and returned to the TSA area.

They didn't have it.

I was a little crestfallen and told them my name, what it looked like and which flight I was on in case it turned up.

Again I ran through the terminal, my pink flip flops slapping the floor as I ungracefully made my way back toward the plane.The gate clerk looked at me sympathetically as I explained the wallet wasn't there. I described it to him "just in case" it somehow appeared. Helpfully, he offered that it was probably in my bag. I liked the thought, but the purse is small and was jammed full, so I knew it wasn't there. "From your lips to God's ears", I replied.

I walked briskly up the long ramp, wondering how I was going to board planes or rent a car without my ID, cash, or credit card. Certainly people have survived worse, but it wasn't a challenge I was thrilled to add to my day.

The flight attendants greeted me again and I told them it wasn't there – I was hoping maybe it had fallen out on the plane as we boarded so yet again, I described my wallet to them. One of them suggested that once we were in the air, I could come up to first class and search my bags with more elbow room. She said that this did happen to people sometimes and almost always it was in the bag.

So credit is due to the kind folks at United for their sympathy and willingness to help (and to try to reassure me too). Internally I was freaking out. They did everything possible to help me. I was wondering "what next?" What's the solution?

Everyone was seated and buckled by now. I travel a fair amount but had never held up a plane before and wasn't very pleased with myself over the situation. The kids looked up at me as I came down the aisle. "No luck" – I shook my head.

I told them I wasn't sure how this was going to work out with key documents gone. They were brainstorming solutions ("Dad can transfer money to my checking account and we can use my debit card") when the nice gentleman from the gate appeared on the plane, smiling. One of the flightattendants was just behind him and gave me a signal that it was found.

Apparently it fell out of my purse and was found on a seat at the gate.

A kind stranger turned it in. Intact. It had my ID, credit cards, cash.

Thank you for taking my wallet to the Lost and Found at San Jose International Airport! It was good to buckle up next to my kids and know that I had everything again. I was thinking how lucky I am that someone took the time to turn it in to the gate so fast, that I'd even noticed it before we left at all. The morning had been frantic before this added excitement, but the MIA wallet was a whole new level of stress.

Remembering that I had assured my family (Jim too, who'd driven us in) that I would calm down once we got through security, Brian turned to me and teased, "Hey Mom, you broke your promise!"  Luckily, he was saying it with a smile.