Denver, CO

Opinion: Denver Walmart restores newsman’s faith in humanity

David Heitz
David Heitz, author of this article, has had his faith in humanity restored after retrieving his phone he had left at Walmart.Photo byDavid Heitz

I am one of the most stereotypically cynical news people you could ever meet. Add to it a mental illness that at times makes me paranoid, and makes me think the worst about everything, and I often don’t have much faith in humanity.

Tonight, that faith has been restored. A few days back I visited the Smith Road Walmart for a big bag of sour cream and onion potato chips, store brand. I was having a craving, and it was the only thing I bought.

Even though I initially declared on social media that my phone had been “stolen,” once I was able to slow down and backtrack, I could almost see myself leaving it sit on the counter when I bagged the chips. But before that I posted what I was thinking. And it wasn’t very nice. “Lost my phone, which is very upsetting. I think I left it at Walmart a couple of days ago. I'd go over there to check to see if it's there, but it would be insanely busy. Also, it's only 20 degrees. Looks like I'm out of luck on a phone, I don't like phones anyway let the lowlife thieves have it.”

‘Don’t give up on humanity’

Ouch! One of my longtime journalism friends, Ross Bielema of Iowa, called me out on my angry post. “Check their lost and found,” he wrote. “Most people are still honest. Don't give up on humanity.”

I said a little prayer before walking to Walmart tonight to check on the phone. Deep down, I wanted to believe that people were honest and that no one would steal my phone. Besides, it’s just a free government phone anyway, nothing fancy.

I did, however, buy a flashy green case for it. So, when I approached Wal-Mart customer service and explained the phone was missing, they knew exactly what to look for.

It would not have been the end of the world had I not got the phone back. The company sends you a replacement phone if your first one is lost or stolen.

But what getting that phone back did for my faith in my fellow man was priceless.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at community newspapers in Southern California and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am proof that people can rebound from even severe mental illness with proper treatment. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living in the Mile High City. You can email me news releases and story ideas at

Denver, CO

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