Recently my best friend of 64 years and I traveled to San Francisco for cool weather, a musical, tea at Neiman-Marcus, spa treatments and retail therapy.
Because I was now the possessor of a portable phone battery and new, giant-sized prescription sunglasses in a larger case, I was in the market for a new purse of bigger size to replace the one I had used and appreciated for three years.
From the Palomar Hotel, where we stayed, our view was of the neon-lit Macy’s sign. Though we had many recommendations for restaurants, with the exception of one meal in Chinatown, Boudin’s San Francisco Sourdough Concession in Macy’s Cellar drew us meal after meal.
In the purse/wallet/handbag section of Macy’s, which takes up almost a floor, I found a purse that might fill the bill and asked the Macy’s associate if I might try fitting my purse contents into it under her watchful eye.
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She immediately assented, and I pulled out all the tissue paper and transferred my items to a LeSportssac handbag, but realized before I was done that it would not be the perfect one. I then extracted my own personal effects and placed them back in my large travel purse. I began to fill the Macy’s bag with tissue paper, puffing it out again, and the kind associate interrupted the process telling me she would finish the task.
I wandered into another accessories section and found one more possibility. Because I had some rapport with the original associate and hoped she might get some type of commission, I returned to the original salesperson. As I was approaching, I saw a woman with a strong European accent purchasing a bag, exactly the same brand and style of the one I had “tried out.” She exited rapidly. Was it that very same purse? I then approached the associate who talked me out of what I had thought of buying, and I thanked her for her candor and opinion. No purse for me that day.
Fast forward three days and we are back in Fresno via Amtrak. Tired but content, I was pulling out receipts and noticed that my insurance cards, Medicare, supplemental insurance and prescription-coverage cards were all missing. I was panicky and made calls to the three insurance companies as soon as I could reach them. I was assured that all could be replaced but identity theft loomed large in my mind. I just knew that I had left them in the black handbag and that the woman who had hurriedly left the store was now in possession of them.
The next day, I phoned Macy’s in San Francisco and spoke with the manager, who linked me to the handbag supervisor, Erna. This woman told me that she would go through every handbag of the same description, took my number so I wouldn’t have to hang on, and phoned me later that the cards were not found. However, she warmly said that she would keep my phone number in case they showed up.
Two nights ago, my son called saying that he had received a call from a hotel about finding some documents with my name on them. I immediately phoned the Cartwright Hotel on Union Square and asked for Tai, the person who had left the message. This is not the hotel where we lodged. Edward answered and I was told that Tai was at home, and he would try to contact her. She phoned me from home and said that a guest had purchased a purse at Macy’s and she found these cards, including the emergency phone number of my son, in one of the zippered compartments.
She turned them in to the front desk. The woman I had seen walking out the door, did, in fact, buy the purse I had examined. Am I ever fortunate! The cards could have been tossed, shredded or used. Once again, they are safely in my possession due to the kindness of strangers in the city by the bay.
Louise G. Feinberg is a resident of Fresno.