Who hasn’t experienced the horrible sinking feeling that comes after a wallet has been misplaced or stolen?
Call it the three stages of loss. First comes panic, then bargaining: “Please, God, help me find it. I promise I’ll never be careless again.” And then comes the third stage: realizing that everything – drivers license, credit cards, bank cards – will have to be replaced.
Last Sunday, on what should have been a lazy weekend afternoon, Teadora Palermo panicked, bargained, and dreaded after losing her handbag while shopping in Secaucus.
Palermo had come from her home in Hoboken to Secaucus for a doctor’s visit. Later she stopped in at the Green Farmers Market on Paterson Plank Road to buy some fruit.
“I had time on my hands, so I think, let me go to that store. I had my pocketbook in the front of the wagon [shopping cart] and I was going to buy plums,” said Palermo, a native of the Netherlands. “I put the plums on top of my pocketbook. I think, ‘If they are good, I’ll get more.’ So I tasted one of the plums and they weren’t good, so I said forget it. I walk out of the store and leave my pocketbook in the wagon.”
It wasn’t until later that she realized she didn’t have her handbag.
“Everything was in my purse,” Palermo said, “My Social Security number, drivers license, senior [discount] cards, insurance cards, you name it.”
She drove back to the store and visited the Secaucus Police Department, only to discover that no one had turned in the bag.
At that point, a disappointed Palermo assumed she was facing many long hours of standing in line and making calls to cancel and replace what had been lost.
But fate had a different ending in store. The purse made it back to the mile-square city of Hoboken before Palermo.
“My son owns a bar [in Hoboken] at Sixth and Washington, Sullivan’s,” said Palermo. “I drove to the bar. My husband was there and I told him, ‘George, I lost my pocketbook.’ He said, ‘I know.’ ”
It turned out that a good Samaritan from Secaucus found the purse, went through it, located a card from Sullivan’s, called the bar, and was nice enough to drive to Hoboken to return it. Everything, including the few dollars Palermo had in her wallet, was right where she had left it.
The Samaritan, whom she only knows by his last name, Sacco, refused to accept any reward money for his good deed. Palermo does not know anything else about the Secaucus hero.
“Wasn’t that wonderful?” she asked.
She added, “You might think, ‘Why the heck is she here [at the Reporter office] telling this story?’ I’m telling this story because I’m tired of so much misery right now, with the recession and this and that. A little story like this can really pick you up. Just knowing that there are still good people and things happening in the world.”
Reach E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.