“Needed the money—sorry”

I’m happy to report a bag theft that ended with a smile.

Jay and Lyn Smith, of Tallahassee, took their 18-year-old son on his first trip to New York City. They took the train from the airport to Penn Station and rode the escalator up to street level.

Because they would be attending a family wedding, Lyn had brought some heirloom jewelry with her in a small purse, which she wore strapped across her back and in front of her. At the top of the escalator—classic!—the sandwich. Someone stalled at the top and a pile-up ensued, people squashing into people until the stall moved on.

That’s when Lyn’s bag must have been cut from her shoulder.

She cried, devastated by the loss of the sentimental pieces and angry with herself for having let this happen. As a former police investigator, she felt she should have known better.

Several months later a small box arrived via FedEx. The sender was identified in the top left corner as “Annie Amtrack.” Curious and mystified, Lyn and Jay opened the box. Inside was every item from Lyn’s stolen purse: her credit cards, her checkbook, the diamond bracelet and sapphire ring that had been her mother’s, her nail file, her shopping list—everything except the $300+ in cash she’d carried. All just dumped into the box.

There was also a note. Scrawled on the back of one of Lyn’s own checks, an apology: “Found on Amtrak. Needed the money. Sorry.”

The questions in this case are many; the answers are few. Did Lyn simply forget her purse on the train? (Not possible, she says.) Was it stolen on the train? On the escalator? Was “Annie” the thief, or did she merely find the thief’s leavings? If she was the thief, perhaps she was trying to balance her karma, like the muggers in Mumbai. As finder, should she have given the bag to Amtrak’s lost-and-found? As finder and returner, did she deserve to retain the cash for services rendered?

Your thoughts?

Regardless, Lyn was thrilled to have her belongings back. Now, she said, “my oldest daughter will one day have her grandmother’s ring!”

© Copyright 2008-2010 Bambi Vincent. All rights reserved.

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