The Runaway Purse

A story with three happy endings

By Howie C. Things

JL16_purse_FIt looked quite an ordinary purse, almost too ordinary for someone who likes things a little bit different. But it was a bargain price. So I bought it.

I filled all the various pockets of my new acquisition with all the appropriate cards, coins and clutter and buried it in my bag.

It lay there innocuously, giving me no signal at all where its entry into my life might lead.

Then one day, on my return home from a shopping trip to the Ōtaki Village, I discovered the purse had absconded. This was the first indication that my bargain purchase could be trouble.

Back to the village I trekked to track it down, doing a round of several shops — final resort, the Ōtaki Post. And, yes. An observant customer, suspicious that the unaccompanied purse casually lounging around in the Post Shop was a possible runaway, had apprehended and delivered it to the custody of the staff.

After sighs of relief and expressions of thankfulness, I buried the absconder in the deepest confines of my bag, desperately hoping that this sort of embarrassing behaviour would not be recurrent.

Alas, several weeks later after returning from shopping at the New World Supermarket, I discovered the contents of my bag did not include one vital item. A desperate phone-call to the supermarket revealed that someone again had spotted my purse in a place where a purse is not normally seen, and subsequently had taken steps to foil the rascal’s cunning plan to escape from the car-park in a shopping trolley, by placing it in the custody of staff.

More sighs of relief, expressions of extreme thankfulness, and renewed determination never to allow this embarrassing absconder an opportunity to escape in a public place again.

Last week — grocery shopping — New World again. Loaded the last bag of goodies into the very full trolley and delved into my bag for that troublesome purse. Oh, NO!

This was a new tactic — a very embarrassing move. There I stood, trolley loaded with groceries, a queue forming behind me at the check-out — and — NO PURSE! Aaaargh.

Then, as I was timidly asking staff if I could set my trolley aside to drive home and retrieve the cause of the problem, a hero stepped in. A stranger, who was adamant I should not have to drive home – he would pay for my groceries!

‘But have you seen how much?’ I gasped, pointing. ‘Are you a millionaire?’

It was obvious he was not, and equally obvious that his offer was genuine. The payment was already underway.

Teary-eyed — (me, not him) — quite overcome, and incredibly thankful for this thoughtful and generous offer, wondering if there was someone in his life with a troublesome purse like mine since he so obviously had empathy for my predicament. I asked if I might have his name so that I could repay him, but he declined. Will I know him again if I see him?

Ah-hah, you misbehaving purse, your mischief has worked in reverse. Your attempts to be troublesome have become a lesson in thankfulness. They have been thwarted by three honest, caring people who understand that a person of several wise years can still be the victim of elusive purses, reading glasses and so forth that seem never to be in the place in which they should be.

I hope that all three of these rescuers are reading this.

Last week there was focus on the problem of elder-abuse. Let’s also acknowledge and give thanks to the many caring, patient and understanding people who have time and empathy for challenges that can increase with age. Some of us have lived long enough to gather such a myriad of memories, it is quite logical that at times one particular memory might be a little difficult to locate when required.

When we are going through difficult times (and all of us do) kindness and smiles are like warm blankets we can wrap around us.

We may be “gold-card” holders, but people who care are the gold.