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January 06. 2013 10:40PM

Plow driver in Gilford returns wallet, finds reward of his own

When he found a wallet while plowing snow at a Gilford resort, Adrian Pouliot thought of the lessons he tries to teach his school-age children.

"My wife and I try to instill that in our kids, to be honest and turn stuff in if it's not yours," Pouliot said. "My son has done that at school, rather than take them home when he's found things, little toys and such, on the playground."

But it was no toy that Pouliot found while plowing at the Fireside Inn near Gunstock Mountain. It was a wallet, dropped by European tourists, with more than a thousand dollars in cash plus credit cards and travel documents.

Pouliot was working for Belknap Landscaping of Gilford, where he has been employed as a carpenter for the past eight months.

The company holds several snow-plowing contracts, and when the snow comes, all hands are summoned to man the heavy equipment.

"I had seen who dropped it, a couple getting ready to leave and the wife dropped a whole bunch of stuff out of her purse," Pouliot said. "I saw something and walked over and it was their wallet - they were pulling out of the parking lot and I gave it to the girls at the front desk."

Pouliot, 34, was out of work for about a year until he was hired by Belknap. He said he never even considered looking inside the wallet.

"I had no clue what was in the wallet and now I'm finding out that it was thousands of dollars," said Pouliot, who is in the process of moving to Boscawen from Gilford.

Ellen Moore of Gilford was the manager on duty at the Fireside Inn. She checked the owner, saw it was a registered guest, and put the wallet away for safe-keeping.

"He was just outside plowing our driveway and came into the front desk and said he found the wallet and handed it over to us," Moore said. "They weren't in the room but were staying for another couple of days."

When the couple returned from skiing, they checked in at the desk to see if the wallet had been found.

"They were just very happy, it had all their money and credit cards and a lot of important papers," Moore said. "They were very appreciative and said they didn't know what they would have done without it."

Had the wallet been buried by the snowplow, it would have been missing until the spring thaw, she said.

"It was great, the fact that he noticed and picked it up," she said. "That was pretty outstanding."

His boss, Hayden McLaughlin, who has owned Belknap Landscaping for 25 years, said he was impressed by his employee's honesty.

"I just thought it showed a lot of character and integrity. You don' t always find that in today's employees," McLaughlin said. "The person who lost it was from a foreign country. Think about it - if you are in China and lost your wallet and everything in it, what can you do; you might as well sit in the corner and cry."

McLaughlin said he went out and bought Pouliot a gift to show the company's appreciation and presented it during a staff meeting. The European tourists left an envelope for him with $30 at the front desk.

But Pouliot said he wasn't thinking about any reward when he returned the wallet, but the lessons he and his wife, Leila, have tried to teach their children, Benjamin, 9, and Merideth, 7.

"We have instilled small things, like if we see a homeless guy at a supermarket, we'll give him a buck or two or a bottle of water or an apple," he said. "It's so they'll know that other people have it worse than we have it."

"In this day and age, it's one of those things; a lot of people would think about themselves first," he said. "I'm not living that kind of life."

billsmith@unionleader.com


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