Serendipity in September


Nobody is sure what it means, but Webster’s says:  It’s the “gift of finding something valuable that you weren’t even seeking.”

September is full of those kinds of things…Discoveries.  Adventures.  Serendipity.  And strange little surprises.

One day last September, I stumbled on some serendipity in the midst of insanity.  I thought I’d tell you about it.

My husband and I were on an autumn road trip, enjoying the splash of color across the landscape…Two middle-aged honeymooners out for a spin.  We stopped at a hotel, and Michael decided to go on a six mile jog, as is his custom.  I decided to go on a little jog, as well—to the nearby McDonalds a block away.

On the way there, I discovered something sitting on the curb.  It was a stolen handbag that had been rifled through.

Being a naïve country gal, I wasn’t thinking about purse snatchers and identity theft…I merely thought some lady had lost her bag.  But then a seedy looking car pulled up next to me.  The man, inside, stared at me and the bag intently.
It was then that I knew I’d stumbled onto something sinister.  With a yelp, I grabbed the handbag and ran pell-mell toward McDonald’s, my heart pounding wildly.

What should I do?  The man was coming after me!  I made up my mind quickly.  Clutching the bag, I ran for the ladies’ restroom at McDonald’s and dived into the handicap stall.  Now what? What if everybody thought I was the one who had stolen the bag and wallet?  What if I was arrested and carted off to jail while my husband jogged serenely into the sunset?

Suddenly, the door of the restroom opened.

Someone came in and rapped on my stall door.  A foreign-sounding voice said:  “May I use big stall, please?  I need to change clothes!”

What the heck?!  What strange thing would befall me next?

With caution, I exited from the handicap stall and saw an elderly woman standing there.  She looked
at me knowingly.  Her eyes probed the bag in my hand.

“I saw you take da bag,” she said. “And I saw man in car who had it before you.”  She disappeared into the stall with her garment bag and began changing her clothes.  “Do not leave here, dear.  You be in trouble—with stolen bag and wallet.”

“But I didn’t do it!”

“I know.  Man stole it…He went through wallet and bag before he left it on curb.”

I felt perplexed.  “Why didn’t you report him?”

The woman suddenly stepped out of the stall.  She stood looking at me.  “Yah.  Yah,” she said.  Her accent was distinct.  She sounded German. “I have learned in life…You mind own businesses.  Do not invite trouble.”

Trouble.  Right.

“Well…What should I do, now?  Shall I call the police?”

“No!  Mind your own businesses…!”  She looked at me sternly.  “But do not leave here alone.  Da man waiting for you.  He follow you forever.”

She could see the growing panic on my face.   “Stop!” she said.  “Think clear, now, dear.  Women in da Great War survived because they think and plan in face of danger.  You know this?”

I nodded.  The German lady’s words steadied me.  I thought hard for a minute, then decided to call my husband on the cell phone and explain what had happened.  Michael was panting like a steam engine when he answered his cell….He sounded alarmed at my predicament, but said he’d be right there.  He only had three miles to run to reach me.  Could I wait?

Yes.  I could wait.  I had no choice.

The German lady finished dressing and prepared to leave.  I felt a bit sad.  She seemed my only link to sanity in this world of stolen wallets and handbags.

“Ma’am…” I said impulsively.  “Could I have your cell phone number…In case I need it?”

She complied, rattling off the number quickly.  Before I could find a pen in my purse, she stepped out the door and was gone.  I ran to the mirror and scribbled her number on the glass with my finger—then transferred the  number to my cell phone.  It seemed important somehow to keep track of her.  The German lady had given me stability.  She’d been a witness to my dilemma, and I didn’t want to lose her.

These matters were on my mind when my husband arrived fifteen minutes later.  Michael had run like the devil was chasing him.  I didn’t know how much he loved me ‘til he showed up, dripping wet with sweat.  He’d passed every jogger on the course—even ones half his age.

Michael insisted on calling the police and they came a few minutes later to interrogate me.  I wish the German lady had been there to help me answer questions. But the lady was gone. Gone…“mindin’ her own businesses”.

I’ve never called the German lady’s number, since that day.  It is still logged in my cell phone, though…  a kind of hedge against future disasters and predicaments.  It gives me backbone and courage….  Reminding me of “all-da-women-in-da-Great-War”  who survived because they thought clearly in the face of danger.

I discovered  several things that September day….How to run like the dickens with a stolen handbag when someone’s chasing you.  How to hide in a handicap stalls.  How to scribble phone numbers on bathroom mirrors and make friends with old German women.

I’d discovered a little adventure…Some mystery and intrigue when I wasn’t even looking…a valuable gift that I wasn’t even seeking.  It took me by surprise.

Best of all, I learned how much my husband loved me.  Even at middle age, he’d outrun all the young bucks on the track just to rescue his scared princess.  To me, that meant so much.

Ah yes.  It’s called Serendipity.

You should find a little Serendipity of your own, my friend.

It’s worth finding.


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