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Lost wallet returned after 33 years, inspiring new friendship

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COMOX VALLEY, B.C. -

Nick Chowdhury will never forget the day at the pier when things did not go according to plan.

He decided to try fishing off the breakwater instead of the pier. But it proved precarious to walk over all the large rocks with his gear, so he decided to lighten his load.

“I picked what I thought was the perfect spot to put my wallet down,” Nick recalls his plan. “I’d go fishing and go back and grab it on my way out.”

But on the way back, not only had Nick caught no fish, there was no sign of his wallet.

“I had everything in there.” Nicks says his wallet contained his birth certificate, status card, and social insurance card. “Everything that was me was in that wallet.”

And seeing as this was back in 1991, Nick couldn’t just go online to replace it all.

“It was a real kick in the stomach,” Nick says.

Nick tried not to think about it over the next 33 years, until the other day when Jamie Lee was fishing off the same breakwater.

The 14-year-old’s friend had asked him to look for something that had dropped in the rocks and Jamie uncovered an old wallet instead.

“It was hard and crusty,” Jamie says of the weather-worn wallet that was stamped with ‘mellow touch cowhide’ on the inside flap. “I was super surprised!”

Not only did it contain ID that expired in the previous century, Jamie says there were a couple of old-fashioned video store cards too.

“They were super old!” Jamie exclaims. “Like from before me.”

“We couldn’t believe it,” Jamie’s dad Bill Lee says of the discovery. “What are the chances?”

Bill started searching for the wallet’s owner online, found a lead, and sent the man a message.

When Nick received the note from a stranger on his phone, he thought it was a scam.

“I don’t even know if I want to be touching my phone right now,” Nick recalls with a laugh.

But then Bill sent him a photo of one of the cards that featured a picture of Nick’s younger self smiling back at him.

“I was blown away!” Nick smiles.

Bill didn’t waste time. He immediately drove the wallet to the nearby town where Nick was living.

“I just saw it as a nice gesture that I would do for my fellow neighbour,” Bill says, humbly dismissing his efforts.

Jamie was thrilled: “That’s sweet we got it back to him!”

And Nick was surprised how looking through the contents of his wallet for the first time in 33 years was liking being in a time machine of sorts.

“It was a tie to the past," Nick says. “Remembering how I thought and saw things.”

And while Nick is very thankful that Jamie and Bill went to the effort of return his old things, he’s even more grateful to be forming new friendships with them.

“Bill and I were talking and he was like, ‘We should go out fishing sometime,’” Nick smiles. “Something like this can reconnect you to your past and build new connections in the community.”

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