Sunday, May 20, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Mary Alice Powell

Offering thanks to a kind stranger



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It is only natural for a journalist to hope his or her composition is read.

But today my hope is that one special person reads this column because I want to thank her for an act of kindness that I will forever remember. I have to thank her in print because I can’t say it to her in person. I don’t know who she is.

It was an experience I hope I never relive. Chances are I won’t have to because I doubt very much if I am ever so careless again as to leave my purse in the shopping cart in a parking lot. That’s what I did at Meijer in Maumee, on what was planned as a leisurely afternoon of shopping.

I loaded my purchases in the trunk and back seat and drove to The Andersons, also in Maumee. After I parked and reached for my purse it wasn’t in the front seat on the passenger side. That’s where it always is. Did it fall to the floor? No.

How about the back seat? Not there. I couldn’t have put it in the trunk with all the cat food and litter? Right, it wasn’t in the trunk.

The oversize brown tote bag is more a piece of luggage than it is a purse. Instantly the contents raced through my head as I drove back to Meijer and ran to the customer service desk in total panic.

What would I do? No license, no credit cards, bank books, cash, medicine, checks, cell phone, address book, camera, photos, makeup, jewelry, steno pad, ballpoint pens.

The panic began to subside when I got to the counter and saw a large brown bag hanging on a hook. I squealed with joy and tears when I claimed Big Brown as mine and the Meijer employee explained what happened.

She said a woman brought the purse in with the explanation she had seen me get in the car with the purse still in the cart and drive off.

Whoever the lady is I am anxious to thank her for such kindness. Perhaps something similar has happened to her and she understands the fear and anxiety. Or more likely she is the kind of person who goes through life with good thoughts and enjoys helping others.

I’ll bet if I could tell her family and friends how she took the time to take the purse from the cart, walk through the crowded parking lot, and into the store and up to the service counter they would say, “We’re not surprised. She’s just that kind of person.”

Almost as good as me getting back my possessions and not having the challenge of replacing legal documents and memorabilia is that such honesty is commonplace at Meijer and other mega stores.

It happens all the time, two Meijer service department employees reported. At Kroger at Spring Meadows I asked an employee with 32 years experience if many people leave their purses in their carts and if they are returned or lost forever. She said that purses are often left in the carts and that she believes more are returned to the store than are stolen.

Learning that I am not alone in my carelessness made me feel better or at least confident enough to confess the fault in this column.

There was only one way to celebrate such a victory. It was back to The Andersons to shop in the home department, but first a stop at Tony Packo’s Express at the front of the store for a hot dog. And it had to be eaten at the table in front of the large photograph of my best friend, the late Nancy Packo Horvath.

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor.

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