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Homeless man finds, returns hotel guest’s wallet, gets handsome reward

Hand in hand with homelessness, it seems, is begging. You’re without resource, without shelter, and the good will of others might seem the best escape from your difficult debacle.

But when a homeless Atlanta man, Joel Hartman, was digging through a dumpster for leftover food and found a wallet, he had no intentions of keeping the resource. Noticing the pocketbook contained the owner’s identification and credit cards, he began to go door to door to the nearest hotels in the area — asking not for money or food, but for the person whom the item belonged to.

Four hotels later, he found her — Anne Drouart of France, a guest at Atlanta’s Omni Hotel.

“Poor woman, she already lost her wallet,” Hartman told the Atlanta Journal Consitution, who first reported on the matter. “That’s got to be awful to be in another country and have this happen.”

For Hartman, that was the end. A good Samaritan exited the luxury hotel’s lobby and was headed back for the streets, perhaps to recommence his search for food.

For the Omni, it couldn’t be the end. When hotel general manager Scott Stuckey heard of Hartman’s deed, he had to find him.

“He did the right thing, and now I want to do the right thing for this guy,” he told the AJC.

So the Omni released surveillance footage of Hartman entering the hotel in hopes of tracking him down. A few days later, after Hartman heard of the buzz he had created and that he was a wanted man, he returned to the hotel. Now, he’ll stay there — in a 12th floor room — through Thanksgiving, with $500 in his pocket, courtesy of Stuckey.

“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” Hartman said. “I would hope someone would’ve done the same thing for me. I had no intention of anything like this ever happening.”