I had the scare of my life last night.

Before I begin this story of loss, fear, and (ultimately) hope, I’ll start by giving you some background information and insight into the average female.

We females sometimes carry very large purses with us on a daily basis for no apparent reason. We don’t know why we do it. I think we just like the feeling of security we get when we know half of what we own is being toted around in a giant handbag. 

What I’m trying to say is, some girls carry around their entire life in a purse. That’s an exaggeration of course, but at the very least we carry around enough to the point where if a purse is lost, we may be very… screwed.

After all we’d lose our drivers license. We’d lose our credit cards and all of our money. We’d lose our phone, our iPod, our hand lotion, our change of shoes, our book, our allergy medication, our inhalers, that hospital bill we’ve been meaning to open for two weeks, our hand sanitizer, our membership cards…

Like I said, girls carry around A LOT in their purses.

Now, back to the story. This is the event that caused my extreme fear and near heart attack: I, Jasmine, was smart enough to leave my purse in a shopping cart outside of a Wal-Mart at 1 a.m. after some late-night grocery shopping.

Why I was grocery shopping that late isn’t the point. The point is that as I drove home with all of my groceries in my Honda completely oblivious to the fact that my purse was still sitting outside in a grocery cart, unmanned. Unprotected. Alone.

I got home ten minutes later, and that was when the panic set in.

I couldn’t find my purse. It wasn’t in the passenger seat. It wasn’t in the back seat. It wasn’t in the trunk, and it wasn’t a few other ridiculous places I looked out of denial that I had been stupid enough to leave something THAT important at a Wal-Mart in sketchy part of Phoenix an hour after midnight.

So, I did what any person would do in this situation. I jumped back in my car and sped back to Wal-Mart, nearly approaching the speed of light. I am utterly surprised I didn’t get a speeding ticket. However, luck was on my side, because I wasn’t pulled over.

Even though I was making such a grand effort to cut my trip in half and get back to the store as fast as I could, I wasn’t very hopeful that my purse would still be sitting in that cart. When I had entered the store an hour earlier I had passed at least five homeless men, and had been hit on by three of them. I’m not sure what the loitering laws are in Phoenix, but in that part of town, they definitely aren’t abided by.  There were three more men sitting on the curb outside of the store smoking who made rude comments as I walked in and a few guys just walking the length of the parking lot for reasons I didn’t even want to ponder.

So, with all of that… I was pretty dang sure I would have to face the music, cancel my credit cards, and just deal the best I could without a drivers license. I would also have to try my best to not get an asthma attack until I could replace my inhaler, too.

So I sped into the parking lot of Wal-Mart, nearly jumped out of my car before I had properly turned it off, and ran back to where I had placed my cart.

My purse was gone.

Of course.

I slouched against my car, head in my hands, trying to stay calm and think of what I should do first.

At that moment a middle-aged man stepped out of his brownish van a few cars down.

“Excused my ma’am, are you looking for something,” he asked.

I looked at him, hopeful, and thought of what my response should be. His van was old and battered, there were multiple holes in his shirt, and he obviously could have put to good use any of my credit cards.

My first thought was that I was either going to have to bargain for my purse with a monetary negotiation, or that he would just give me my purse back minus my wallet and everything valuable claiming that was how he found it.

And looking back, I’m very ashamed of my way of thinking in my fear.

“Yes,” I smiled at him. “I left my purse in a cart over there about 20 minutes ago.”

He smiled back, grabbed my purse from inside his van and walked over to me.

“I knew you’d be back. I was waiting for someone to return for it,” he said. “I don’t think anything is missing.”

I thanked him and looked through my massive purse quickly.

He was right. Nothing was missing.

This man, who didn’t look like he made much money or had much could have easily driven off with my purse and used my credit cards for whatever purpose well before I was able to cancel them.

He could have lied. He could have gotten away with it. After all, I’m the stupid college kid who left her purse in a grocery cart.

The point is, he didn’t.

He did what was right.

It’s so easy to assume the worst of people in a time of disaster, or just in the world we live in today in general even if you’re an optimistic person 95% of the time like I am. 

We live in a world where men walk into elementary schools, or movie theaters, and just start shooting.

We live in a place where human trafficking, disease, sexual abuse, and starvation are real issues that happen in every country in the world.

But we also live in a world of incredible kindness and compassion.

When so much bad happens every day, it can be hard to forget the good and lose faith in humanity, but you shouldn’t, because there are still good, genuine people in this world.

There are people everywhere who are honest and kind—who want to help others. There are people who go out of their way to help those less fortunate or do what’s right even when they don’t have to. There are people everywhere who are driven by love and kindness.

They just rarely make the news.