Last Saturday I went for a run early in the evening. Well, it was actually one of those things that I call “a run,” but there’s lots of walking involved too. Which isn’t really relevant in this story, but I don’t want to imply that I’m fitter than I am. So let’s just say that I was propelling myself forward with my feet in such a manner that it caused me to sweat and breath hard.
Anywho, as I was approaching the street corner that denotes the end of mile 3 on my running route, I saw something in the road. It was almost dark, so I couldn’t tell exactly what it was. It looked like a short, squatty cylinder. Weird. It wasn’t there when I passed this corner early in the run. As I got closer, I could see that it was handbag, an upside-down handbag to be exact, just sitting in the road like someone tossed it out their car window. And then, when I was almost up to it, I saw the most exciting thing. It was a “Prada” label! (I could tell even though said label was upside-down. I can spot a right-side up Prada label at 50 yards.)
My first thought was “Look at this! Somebody threw away a perfectly good Prada handbag. Oh my god is this my lucky day or what! The universe has given me a Prada handbag!”
This thought lasted only about half a second, because just then the handbag came into complete focus. It was, or had been, a fully loaded handbag, complete with a wallet and a Blackberry and all the other normal handbag stuff, which was now scattered over about a square yard or so (that’s a square meter for my Canadian friends) around it. At that moment, I knew in my bones that somebody, somewhere, was totally freaking out and I felt great sympathy for her.
There aren’t many worse things that could happen to a woman besides losing her purse. Losing a purse is a million times worse than a man losing his wallet. A wallet is just a wallet, but the purse contains the wallet, the cell phone, the favorite tube of lipstick, the checkbook, business cards, breath mints, the keys, the emergency dose of Valium, the to-do list, etc., basically everything a woman needs to survive out in the world. It is a woman’s complete life, condensed down to the very essentials. It is important.
For another half second I thought about leaving it there, thinking that whoever lost it was certainly going to be looking for it soon. But what if she didn’t come back before somebody ran over it? Or what if some unscrupulous person came along and just took it. No, I had to save the Prada handbag for its rightful owner. Once I saw that there was probably enough info with it for me to figure out who it belonged to, I shoved the scattered contents back into the big center pocket, picked up the whole thing and headed for home.
I must say, it WAS the perfect accessory for my ensemble: running shoes, baggy gym shorts, a JogBra, and a Prada handbag. A little lip gloss and I’d be ready for a romantic anniversary dinner with Slag.
I ended up just walking the half mile back to the house. The only thing that would have looked weirder than someone walking down a suburban street in the aforementioned outfit would be someone running down a suburban street in the aforementioned outfit. Plus, I didn’t want to sweat on the leather.
During my walk home, I started trying to imagine all the possible scenarios that could have resulted in a Prada handbag lying in the road. Maybe someone was abducted off the street and she had whacked her attacker with the handbag before she was dragged off to godknowswhere. I started making mental notes of all the details of the surrounding area, checking out all the parked cars and telling myself to see what time it was when I got home so I could tell the police. Ooh, maybe I’d end up on the 10pm news. Maybe I’d end up on American Justice
, telling my story about how I found this purse and this one clue led to the whole case being solved.
Hmmm, but then I started wondering how it would look if the owner of this purse drove by looking for it and saw me walking away with it? Would she think I was stealing it? Would she believe my story? I didn’t want to look like I was trying to hide the handbag, so I started swinging it a little whenever a car drove by, silently saying: “See see! I’m not stealing this handbag! I’m just holding it for its rightful owner. Are you its rightful owner?”
Or maybe I had blundered into some sort of sting operation. Maybe the FBI was dropping designer handbags in the road and waiting for people to come by and steal them so they could round up all the handbag thieves in the city. Maybe I was being recorded by a hidden camera and would end up on Dateline, just like those pedophiles! I would be all like “I wasn’t STEALING it. I was just going to take it home and figure out who it belonged to” as they were putting the handcuffs on me, and it would sound just as lame as those perverts on To Catch a Predator
saying “I swear I was only going to take her to the movies.” And everybody else would be like “Oh right. Tell us another big fat lie.” So then I stopped swinging the handbag at passing cars and just tried to be discrete but without looking sneaky.
Thankfully, I made it home without being arrested. Once I got the handbag into full light, I could see that it wasn’t the warm brown that I thought it was. No, it was red, and since I’m not much into red accessories, giving it back to its owner wasn’t even going to be emotionally difficult. Cool.
I rummaged through the wallet and found a driver’s license with a name and an address. A quick reverse address lookup online and I had a phone number to a house not too far away. No one was home, but I left a long, rambling message like I do when I don’t know what to say and I know I’m being recorded. I told her who I was and how I was out running and I found this purse and what time it was and lots of other stuff and at the end I finally left my number. By the time she got to the end of the message she was probably yelling at the answering machine: “Will you spit it out already? Shut up and tell me where my purse is, you blabbermouth!”
About an hour later I got a phone call from someone who was totally freaking out, just as I had expected. This is a rough transcript from memory: “Thankyouthankyouthankyou oh my god I set my purse on the car when my husband and I were trying to get the dogs in the car and I forgot about it and drove off and we retraced our entire route and we found my TicTacs in the road but nothing else and I was so afraid someone had taken my purse oh my god I’m so relieved thankyouthankyou you’re so wonderful.” And then she offered me a reward, which I refused.
And then a few minutes later, when she came by to pick up the handbag: “Thankyouthankyou soo much I just started a new job and they gave me a Blackberry and I was afraid I was going to have to go into work on Monday and tell them I lost it thank you soooo much you’re so kind you’re wonderful there’s a place reserved in heaven for you.”
I’m not making that up. She actually said there’s a place reserved in heaven for me. So that’s good to know.
It did felt great to hear a total stranger to tell me how wonderful I am, and it was nice to be able to do something that made somebody else so happy, but I’m not sure my good deed was worthy of a guaranteed spot in heaven. I mean, it wasn’t a real inconvenience on my part to carry a designer handbag that I probably can’t afford for a few blocks and use it as an excuse not to finish my run. I didn’t save her child from a burning building or anything. Plus I totally missed getting her TicTacs out of the road, so I didn’t complete the rescue. But I think I'm going to take the place in heaven anyway. I think she would want that.