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OpinionCommentary

Just a returned cellphone, but so much more

Opinions writer Steven I. Finkelstein, left, delivers a

Opinions writer Steven I. Finkelstein, left, delivers a thank-you gift of cupcakes to cabdriver Shajib Nishat of Queens. Nishat returned a cellphone Finkelstein's son had left in a NYC cab. Photo Credit: Patty Bonney

One recent Friday night, I called my 27-year-old son, Ryan, who was on his way to a company function in Manhattan. He said he would call me back shortly. Oddly, he did not. This was pretty unusual. The following morning, I called but got no response, which worried me. Later, he texted me from his iPad, telling me he lost his cellphone right after my first call. He was very upset because it held many memorable photos and texts.

He said that a co-worker called the cellphone, and a cabdriver answered. The driver said he would gladly return the phone and gave his cell number to the co-worker, who passed it along to my son.

I called the driver, who said he could meet my son in the city that night. After several back-and-forth communications about where and when they should meet, my son called. Ryan had met the driver in Manhattan and received his phone back. He said he gave the cabbie a $50 reward.

Then I got a text from the driver.

“Pa,” it said, meaning me, “I gave the phone to your son. Thank you so much for everything. Keep me in your prayers.”

I thanked him profusely and wrote, “God bless you.”

I asked him for his address. I am in the baking business and wanted to give him a gift.

“Thank you so much Pa,” he wrote. “I am really thankful to God that he has given me the opportunity to do something good for your family. My name is Nishat and whenever you are close to my home, let me know, any time. I really want to meet you.”

I responded, “I will make it my business to meet you. You are very special. Again, thank you for being such a good person. I wish more people in this world were more like you.”

This was just a cellphone, but I felt emotional about it. Moments like these restore your faith in humanity.

Two weeks later, my wife, Patty, and I visited the apartment of Shajib Nishat, an immigrant from Bangladesh, in Ozone Park, Queens. We met him, his sister, brother-in-law and nephew.

We exchanged gifts. I gave him two dozen assorted cupcakes, and Nishat gave Patty and me bouquets of flowers. These were warm, sweet and loving people.

When I returned home that evening, I had a text from Nishat. It said, “Pa, I have no words to say to you. I am so happy that you cannot imagine. You made me so proud as well as my family. I do pray for you and your family so that your family can lead a happy and successful life. Thank you for your good heart and unconditional love — it means so much to me.”

I responded, “You have a beautiful family and you are a very special person.”

Their mother is coming in from Bangladesh in March, and they insisted that we meet her and have dinner with their family. Ryan, Patty and I will be there.

Reader Steven I. Finkelstein lives in Merrick.

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