For 5 plus years, I was an Assistant States Attorney – Felony Trial Division in Chicago. My daughter was born in the middle of a really nasty 2 week murder jury trial (for which I am still called back every 3 years to testify in parole hearings against release of the killer). Donna went into labor at about 2:00 a.m. on a Thursday morning. I called my friend and partner in the case and said “Charlie – Donna’s having the baby. You’re gonna have to handle things today.” His response “Congrats but be here tomorrow.”
The next day, I showed up at the office with my arms packed with files and three boxes of cigars. So I’m in my office passing out cigars, smiling, yabbering, guys wandering in and out when suddenly a large chap appeared at my door. He was wearing overalls, high rubber boots, thick shirt and a hat. He leaned against the door frame. “Is there a Scott Petersen here” he asked. We all turned. I raised my hand. “Yeah. That’s me.” “You missin’ anything?” he asked. I felt pockets. Jacket. My checkbook! It’s gone. “My checkbook” I said. He held it up waggling it between two fingers. “I found it on the street.” I quickly dipped into my wallet for a twenty. “Here” – I said taking the checkbook. “Thank you. I apprec. . . ” “No. That’s okay,” he held up his hand. “I’m with Streets and Sanitation. I want you guys to know — we have a lot of good people in Streets and Sanitation.” I then said “My wife just had a baby. Can I offer you some cigars?” He looked at the open box. “That I will take.” He grabbed a large handful and disappeared.
It’s funny how things happen – and there are moments of intense clarity. Obviously I’ll never forget the birth of my daughter (I was there 🙂 ) but I’ll also never forget the integrity of that stranger. Streets & Sanitation. . . .