A last-minute shopper who lost a wallet stuffed with $5,000 in cash at Bloomingdale's got a Christmas present he'll never forget when an honest couple returned the billfold with every last dollar.
The happy return ended a miserable ordeal for Robert Slatkin, who was certain the wallet was gone for good in the frenetic sea of tourists and holiday shoppers Wednesday evening.
Slatkin was buying a shirt from the Armani section in the venerable department store at 4:30 p.m. when he noticed his wallet was missing.
"I just started shaking," Slatkin, 46, who owns a fitness and nutrition company, told The Post. "I just said, 'Oh no, it's gone.' "
He raced to the leather-handbags section, where he been perusing Tumi goods earlier, but came up empty-handed.
Another employee suggested he check the lost-and-found department. That was a bust, too.
So the sullen Slatkin left the store and slowly trudged up Lexington Avenue, where about 15 minutes later he got a call from American Express.
"I figured they were going to tell me that I had some unauthorized charges being made," said Slatkin, who couldn't believe the good news he wound up getting instead.
"The guy from AmEx laughed and said, 'Someone is returning your wallet. A Sandi Castro found it,' " Slatkin said.
Castro, 40, and her fiancé, Bruce Migliaccio, 53, both of the Upper East Side, saw the bulging wallet on a Hugo Boss scarf display.
"I picked it up and saw all of the cash," said Castro, who co-owns Big Fresh, an indie-movie company. "I felt panicked for him and felt like I needed to get it back to him as soon as possible."
She and Bruce didn't want to just hand it over to a clerk, so they asked a store manager to put the wallet in a safe. They then called American Express reps, who located Slatkin and put him in touch with the honest couple.
Castro and Migliaccio handed over the wallet at the store, and Slatkin tried to give them a reward.
"I was shoving the money in Bruce's hand, but he wouldn't take it," Slatkin said.
Castro explained: "It didn't feel right to take the money. All I needed was a thanks."
Finally, she relented and Slatkin gave the couple $300 and an open invitation for them to use the indoor pool in his posh Upper East Side apartment building — a perk they won't be turning down.
"I was just raised to believe that what goes around, comes around," Castro said. "I hope everybody would do the same."