I was sitting at my desk a couple of days ago deleting spam when my phone rang. It was a number I didn't know so I was planning to ignore it but for some reason my hand pulled a Dr. Strangelove and picked up. A male voice with a distinctly middle eastern accent asked "Is this Marilyn?" Miffed that it was one of those disgusting sales calls or worse, a come-on from a foreign scam artist I barked, in my best bitchy voice "Who is this?" The reply was startling.
"I'm a New York cab driver and a guy left a bag in my cab. Do you know ...and here he named a colleague of mine...a guy I see only occasionally but who I consider a friend. "How did you get my number" I blurted out more tentatively bitchy. "He left his cell phone in the bag and your number was in it."
Aha! I thought. Why my number? My colleague must have had a list of his more intimate numbers in there. He doesn't call me often. Here it comes , I thought. The ransom request! He wants bucks for the bag or worse, bucks for my colleague who might at that very moment be slumped in a closet wearing duct tape and zip ties. I got nervous. After all, New York (like the rest of the world) is a regular Sodom and Gomorrah. It's host to scams, scandals and unspeakable events--bombings, shootings, terrorism. Car alarms go off every few minutes, people die from road rage, personal effects are up for grabs by ruthless thugs who roam the streets preying on the vulnerable. All my shields were up!
But the cab driver went on. "My name is Ali, he said . I took your friend to the airport. He's probably on the plane right now so later you should call him and tell him I have his bag and will gladly send it to him right away. Here's my phone number." Could this be real? In a contrite tone, I thanked him profusely, hung up the phone and e mailed my colleague. But I was still suspicious.
A few hours later, my friend called. He'd just come in from New York and was indeed freaked out about his lost bag which contained not only his cell phone but a brand new IPad and a very expensive wrist watch! Because my name begins with B, I was the first name on his alphabetical contact list. (For some reason, he's got no "A" friends!) Mystery of "why me" cleared up!
He called Ali (woke him up in fact because of the time difference between NY and LA where we live) and Ali offered to Fed Ex the bag with no money up front. He didn't ask for anything. The bag arrived and my friend reimbursed Ali and sent him a reward.
I got a reward too. This whole incident made me realize that our current culture has made me more paranoid than I knew I was. This is not a good thing. I know it's important for us all to exercise caution and discrimination but it's not good for us to go around trusting no one and believing that bad people outnumber the good. It's important to remember that there are still honest and ethical folks out there who enjoy doing the right thing.
The bible tells us that God said he'd spare Sodom and Gomorrah for 10 righteous men. The good news is that I've found one. Now I'm going to keep on the look out for nine more and prove that New York (and the rest of the world) can still be saved!