A friend needed to go to her bank on a Thursday afternoon.  Her bank turned out to be in the Jewel store on Howard Street near McCormick. When we got inside the store, my friend instructed me to sit on a bench near the bank. Not being receptive to being directed to sit down on the bench (not cooperatively hers), I decided to wander around the store, buy some items, then sit on the bench. 

The bench offered me the pleasure of observing customers checking out.

An African-American woman returned to her checker and asked if anyone had turned in a cell phone. She was referred to customer service. The woman went there and then scurried past me to the exit.  On her way back to customer service, she spoke to me, an African American.

After this customer service visit, she sat down next to me and said that she had left her phone in her shopping cart and had rushed outside, hoping to catch the man that used her cart afterwards. She got up and went back to customer service.

When she returned, she told me that she had learned that someone phoned to say a person called that would return the phone. 

Time passed. She then asked if she could use my phone to call her phone. No one answered her phone.  She became more anxious. More time passed. She got up and down, going back and forth to the checker and customer service.

Finally, while the woman was at the checker for the umpteenth time, a woman in a sari arrived there with her cart of groceries and gave the woman her phone. The smiles and relaxation that spread over the owner’s face were indescribable. 

The phone’s owner came over to me after getting her phone, thanked me for the use of my phone, and said she would never put her phone down in a cart again. 

We exchanged phone numbers.

Time will tell if we stay in touch. What is most memorable is how the retrieval of the woman’s phone was based on a variety of people being cooperatively hers.

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...