“Is Your Name Steven?”-Yes, Virginia There Is A Santa Claus -2019

December 25, 2019
Christmas Day
Los Angeles, California

Drove out to Pasadena this morning to meet and have Xmas Brunch with two of my longtime friends, Carole and Ron.  I arrived at the Mexican Restaurant El Torito a few minutes late, parked my car, and met them inside.  Great buffet and conversation and after almost two hours of feasting (I always overdo it with buffets), we walked out the front door to the parking lot.

Standing just outside the door was a 6-4 homeless man I’d guess to be about 30. He looked at me and said, “Is your name Steven?” Surprised that he knew my name, I answered, “Yes it is.” The man reached into his pocket and handed me an object. I reached for it and realized–it was my wallet!

I looked at him and he pointed as he responded, “I found it over there on the ground.”

I opened it and quickly checking the contents I saw it still contained my driver’s license, social security card, credit cards and $150.00 in cash.

I thanked him, shook his hand, gave him an unsolicited “finder’s fee” to reward his honesty and walked to my car.

One of the best Xmas presents I’ve ever received–a renewal of my faith that there are honest people in this world. I asked myself, “How long had he been standing there?  Two hours or ten minutes?  Clearly, a man in serious need who probably didn’t have more than a few dollars in his pocket?  How easy it would have been to just take out the cash, leave the wallet on the ground and move on?  No one would know.

But, no. This was an honest man, a proud man; who despite the hardships he was experiencing in life would not give in to temptation and would do what was right. He would be true to himself and to a complete stranger.

Yes, Virginia, there is a real Santa Claus and he’s homeless and walking the streets of Pasadena with his head held high.



  1. Zack Kopp on December 25, 2019 at 7:32 pm

    Merry Christmas!!

    • Steve Hodel on December 25, 2019 at 8:15 pm

      Zack K. Hi Zack. Thanks. Same to you and yours. He really “made by year.”

      • Sionainn on December 25, 2019 at 11:32 pm

        This is truly wonderful. In a world where “brotherly love ” and genuine honesty are sometimes a rarity, this man restores my faith in humanity.
        Merry Christmas, Steve.

        • Steve Hodel on December 26, 2019 at 12:12 am

          Sionainn: MINE TOO. Truly hearwarming.

  2. Carole Wong on December 25, 2019 at 9:14 pm

    I have a feeling he WILL be FOUND, either literally or figuratively. Goodness always wins.

    Carole H.

    • Steve Hodel on December 25, 2019 at 9:16 pm

      Carole W: I think your right. Really warms my heart to see that kind of honesty and integrity.

      • Patricis ONeill on December 26, 2019 at 12:38 pm

        Truly a Christmas gift you will carry & pass on with you forever!! We see so much of the homelessness nowadays in Tucson! Happiest of New Years to you & yours, Steve from 🌵AZ😎

        • Steve Hodel on December 26, 2019 at 2:01 pm

          Patricia O: Yes, will always remember his honesty. Amazing. Happy Holidays to you and yours too.

  3. Don Long on December 26, 2019 at 3:28 am

    Pasadena is a wonderful town. Go Bulldogs. PHS 1964

    • Steve Hodel on December 26, 2019 at 4:16 pm

      Don L: Yes it is. Lived there “off an on” during the “Gypsy Years” after dad split the country. Brother’s and I had a year of elementary school and then to McKInley Jr. HS for a short time. Spent many hours at the Pasadena Boys Club and sold Pasadena Star Newspapers on the street corners making 3cents a copy I think it was. Then staking out the Rose Bowl Parade “on the blue line” early mornings. Great place for a kid to grow up.

  4. Robert Sadler on December 26, 2019 at 9:18 am

    That was providential! The gold in the heart of a good man never tarnishes; it shines for all to see. Merry Christmas.

  5. Lucas Pickford on December 27, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    I needed that. God bless you Steve Hodel and Merry Christmas. If there still is such a thing…..

    Your friend,

  6. Dan Lackey on January 1, 2020 at 1:59 pm

    Happy New Year Steve,
    It seems that when you encounter such honest people, they are like this man. They are the ones who could really use the money themselves, but choose to the right thing. By the way, my wife told me to tell you to be more careful.

    Have a good year,

  7. Ray on January 16, 2020 at 2:34 am

    Steve I am retired cop also only I worked on the right coast and my childhood friend Dougy worked on the L..A.P.D. and now I am heading to Florida where I am going to retire with my beautiful second wife Donna and our service dog Kalvan who adopted me by running out of shelter an jumping into my car. Steve whenever I am asked about a prior marriage, I tell people that I introduced my ex-wife to her current husband a week after I finished reading “The Prince” by Niccolò Machiavelli. That is a true story, by the way. We have all been happy these many years. When your former Chief of Police Wille Williams was retiring as Philadelphia Police Commissioner I whispered “you’ll be sorry. The night of the infamous low speed pursuit he happened to be standing next to me and said “so help God if you say I told you so I will shoot right here on the spot.” My reply was “Willy I am not F.B.I. they are nice people they oat meal raisin cookies and the best they can threaten you with is life prison where you will be taken care of for the rest of your life. I am Treasury we are sadists and if you shoot me the I.R.S will audit your taxes until Hell freezes over.” I got alot of laughs from that. Steve I love all your books you have given me hours of pleasure and I will reread again you are a great researcher and historian your books will be text books in criminal justice classes one day.

    • Steve Hodel on January 16, 2020 at 8:31 am

      Ray: Wishing you and Donna and Kalvan all the best in your retirement to Florida.

  8. Ray on January 16, 2020 at 2:53 am

    Steve I forgot to say I have encountered honest people like this man myself because I always tried to live by the Golden Rule. Of course I learned to look both ways when I cross the street because I did traffic too. I forgot I knew one time I was driving Rittehouse Sqaure and a lady had struck and killed a pedestrian an Mike the cop who was from Ireland and gracious gentleman was trying to cheer her up said Ah mam don’t you be worrying he is a lawyer and in Philadelphia they breed like rats.” I had to leave because I was laughing too hard to hang around.

Leave a Comment