A Windsor Terrace woman blessed a Brooklyn bus driver Monday thanking him for saving her Christmas.
Maureen Rice, 59, accidently dropped her black leather pocketbook stuffed with $2,300 on the B61bus earlier this month while struggling to carry bags of holiday gifts.
But she got all the money back because of the quick eye of driver Reuben Cornick.
“I am enormously grateful. We have decent people working for the city who do the right thing,” Rice said, sharing a big smile and a hug with Cornick in front of the Jackie Gleason Bus Depot on 36th Street in Sunset Park.
A bashful Cornick explained that he was just doing his job.
“I am glad I found it, said Cornrick. If a passenger would have spotted it, “it’s a 50/50 chance you would get it back.”
It was a happy ending to the December 15th caper involving three city buses and a serendipitous twist.
Rice, an office manager at Park Slope Midwives, started her day visting her mother at the Norwegian Christian Home & Health Center on 67th Street in Dyker Heights.
She had packed her purse with $1,500 of her father’s cash and $800 of her own. Some of the money was for Christmas shopping and some was going towards an upcoming trip to New Orleans.
Rice rode a lot of buses that day – but was lucky to drop her bag on a bus driven by an honest man.
She took the B64 to the B63, and dodged traffic crossing 9th Street chasing the B61, almost missing it, catching Cornick’s bus just as he was about to close the doors.
The eight-year transit vet does not have a regular route like most city drivers. Rather, he picks up “extras,” or unfilled driving shifts across Brooklyn, each day.
He wasn’t supposed to work, but got called in to pick up a shift.
“She was double lucky that day,” said Cornick. “Everyone got off the bus right after she did. After the last person got off, I turned around…I don’t trust the mirrors. And I saw the pocketbook under the seat on the floor.”
He got up to inspect it further. “I saw two enormous envelopes with money inside. “I was like ‘uh-oh,” Cornick said calling his bosses reporting the expensive find.
Meanwhile, Rice just finished buying shirts at Sport Prospect, on 7th Avenue in Park Slope, using a credit card always kept in her pocket to pay.
Out on the sidewalk, she reached for her purse and realized it was gone.
She retraced her steps, first checking out a nearby pizzeria she had went into. Nothing. So, she asked another B61 bus driver for help and he told her to call the bus depot.
A supervisor there alerted the drivers on the three lines to look out for the missing bag.
“I panicked,” said Rice adding that she never lost hope that someone would turn in her purse still stuffed with the cash.
Since then, she has asked the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to give Cornick with a hero’s award.
“We need more people like him,” Rice said.