By Patrick Markey
Lose your wallet on the New York subway system and you are as likely to find it again as you are to win the lottery.
So when Irish student Kathryn Costello lost her wallet with a $1,180 in cash on the No. 6 line, she had all but given up hope of ever seeing her savings again.
But thanks to a Good Samaritan, a touch of modern technology and a little help from the Virgin Mary, Costello managed to get back not only her wallet but all of her cash.
A former Irish Echo intern and English and History major at Maynooth College, Costello was heading home with some friends on Friday evening when they decided to jump the No. 6 train at 23rd Street in Manhattan.
When the 20-year-old Dubliner sat down on the bench in the station, her wallet either slipped or dropped out of her pocket onto the seat. She only discovered it was missing when the train had pulled out of the station.
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"I got on the train, sat down, put my hand on my pocket and realized I’d lost it," she said.
As she kept only cash in her wallet, and her identification in her separate filofax, Costello thought she had little chance of reclaiming the money. A search of the station yielded no results. But when she checked her email two days later, a Labor Day weekend surprise was waiting for her.
Somebody using the email address [email protected] had sent her a message asking whether she had lost anything.
The sender, Aristedes Barrios, had just got off the train at 23rd Street when he spotted Costello’s black canvas wallet on platform seat.
Seeing the money inside, he was tempted to leave it there for the cleaning staff, Barrios said. But when he saw the large amount of cash and a small Virgin Mary inside with a letter containing Costello’s email address, he knew he had to contact her.
"I saw the Virgin Mary and it reminded me of my mother, who is very Catholic. I thought then I have to do the right thing," the 28-year-old advertising firm employee said.
The two messaged each other to arrange a meeting, and Barrios handed over the wallet on Sunday.
"He just handed over the wallet with every little thing inside it," Costello said. "I was delighted. It really restored my faith in humanity."