Sully Bayless has placed his cellphone and iPad on top of his car and driven off.
“I’m a senior, what can I say?” the 78-year-old joked Monday.
But he wasn’t laughing last week when he left $1,100 in cash in a plastic envelope and his phone on the trunk of his sedan.
Bayless was a few blocks from his south Richland home when he remembered he laid it on the trunk of his car. He retraced his route and found the phone on a street, undamaged.
The wad of cash was gone.
“I didn’t feel real good about it,” Bayless told the Herald on Monday. “My name wasn’t on it or anything. I just figured I would chalk it up to experience. I didn’t think to contact anybody about it.”
Plus, Bayless admits, he was a little embarrassed to admit his error publicly. He didn’t even share the news with his wife, only telling the handyman who was supposed to be paid with the money.
But someone else was watching out for Bayless.
The envelope had been turned in to police Friday after a Ben Franklin Transit bus driver noticed it in the middle of the roadway.
“It does show that we’ve got honest public servants out here working for you, with the transit and police,” said Bayless.
Cerise Peck, Richland’s crime prevention specialist, said it was good karma for that bus driver.
“We’re incredibly proud of the person that turned it in and the community that we live in,” she said. “It’s nice to know there are people out there that care about each other and are willing to do good acts.”
Bayless, a retired business instructor at Columbia Basin College, and his wife Lorita are moving to an assisted living facility in Kennewick. In preparation to sell their Richland home, the couple hired some people to stain the deck, wash the windows and finish other tasks.
Bayless said the money was to pay them.
He was about to get into his car and run some errands when he saw the mail carrier. Distracted, he set his phone and the envelope on the trunk and walked over to the mailbox.
Bayless believes he was driving on Kapalua Avenue toward Gage Boulevard when the items slid off. He questions if the discovery was made on Keene Road, or if there was some confusion as the information got passed on to police.
But no matter the location, Bayless is grateful to the bus driver and his keen eye.
Ben Franklin Transit spokeswoman Michele Casey said the driver spotted the money on his route and immediately turned it in to the agency’s lost and found department.
The money was locked up overnight until it could be handed over to police.
“It’s wonderful the owner of the money was located …,” Casey said after hearing it had been claimed. “We are so very proud of our drivers and operators at Ben Franklin Transit. And, this is just one of many examples demonstrating how BFT employees commit to serve our customers and communities each day.”
Bayless said he assumed he wouldn’t see the money again, and went to his bank Friday to withdraw more for the handyman.
Then on Saturday night, Bayless and his wife were eating dinner when he started thumbing through that day’s Herald with a story about the found cash.
“The headline jumped out at me and I said, ‘That sounds familiar,’” he said. “It hit me right between the eyes.”
He called the police department that night, left a message and got a callback Monday morning.
Bayless said they did a pretty good job of vetting him to make sure he was the real owner. He told them the bills were ordered low to high and were folded twice like a wad to fit in the tight plastic envelope.
After retrieving his money, Bayless said he drove straight to the bank — “Don’t pass go. Don’t collect $200!”