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Sometimes we do give up that there is still caring for the plight of others. Obviously, when there is known pain and suffering from disasters or crimes against strangers in our midst, there is a higher level of caring that reveals itself. Yet, when it is simply lesser travails that may come our way, we may not expect much in the way of empathy from people we do not know at all. You live in a community of even 100,000 and so many we pass by each day remain as invisible to us as we to them. Such is life.

I belong to the YMCA in my town. For an extra $30 a year I can use their weight room whenever the Y is officially closed. This past Thanksgiving day was such a time. Usually on a Sunday when the Y is closed you may have five or six people there working out at midmorning. This holiday there were perhaps 10 people in the weight room when I arrived. The only person I knew was Tony F , a fellow expat Long Islander. My workout usually only takes about 30 minutes. My final exercise was stomach crunches on the mat. I was wearing these baggy Krazy Wear pants that had pockets which allow anything inside to fall out when lifting one’s legs. As I was stretching, my keys did fall out. I noticed that there was this one guy, perhaps 20 something, that was using a nautilus machine nearby the mats.

As I was leaving I wished Tony and the others  a very happy holiday. When I arrived at my car and sat inside I could not feel my wallet. I looked all over the sides and floor of the car and no wallet. Shit! I must have dropped it on the mats, so I hurried back. I told Tony  what happened and he and the other people started searching the areas  where I had worked out. No luck. The mat area was clean and now I became very anxious. It wasn’t the $40 in the wallet that worried me. No, it was my driver’s license, insurance cards and credit cards that meant this was going to be a bitch of phone calls needed. The other gym members agreed that the only person no one knew was that 20 something guy, who had also just left. ” I can’t believe I got robbed on Thanksgiving! Damn it!” Someone said that this is the most obvious time for thieves… the holidays. Tony dialed the police on his phone and put me on with the dispatcher. I told my story and he said an officer would be there shortly. One of the young members there, a lifeguard at the Y, said he already called the lady who ran the facility’s security. She could look at the closed circuit cameras to see who took my wallet. I was really pissed! While I had to wait for the police I decided to drive around the area to see if the thief was nice enough to discard my wallet after getting the cash. Two 50 something women members said they would help me by walking throughout the area to check for the same thing. I was so impressed with their offer. Sadly, no wallet anywhere!

I now called my wife at home to tell her the bad news. ” Do you believe it, somebody just stole my wallet!” She said ” Idiot, I can see the wallet sitting here where you keep your keys and phone. You never took it.! I told you that as you get older these things happen!”  I walked inside the Y and announced the news to everyone. I said how embarrassed I now felt. Tony  put it best. ” Well, that’s one embarrassment you can enjoy.” When the police officer pulled up I told her the news and she offered that this was the best Thanksgiving treat of all.

The real Thanksgiving for me was all those Y members who showed caring for this 70 something guy during his dilemma. Those two ladies who trudged through the parking lot just to help me was the best treat of all. A room full of strangers and look at all the concern.

PA Farruggio
Thanksgiving 2023