[A repeat from October 28, 2012]
For 5 plus years, I was an Assistant States Attorney – Felony Trial Division in Chicago. My daughter was born in the middle of a brutal two week murder jury trial (for which I go back every three years to testify in parole hearings to argue 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 picture this — 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 bib 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 of stogies 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 . . . . .