Good Samaritan finds woman's day planner and $900, returns them Forgotten organizer fell from car roof onto road

March 09, 1997|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

Rosemary Robles swears she'll never forget and leave her day planner on top of her car again after pumping gas. The last time nearly cost her $900.

Not to mention the planner also contained credit cards and personal notes that offered strangers a glimpse of her life.

About 4 p.m. Friday, Robles, 25, of Millersville pulled into the Crown gas station on Old Mill Road near Veterans Highway to gas up her 1995 Chevy Cavalier. That's where her adventure began.

Robles, a claims system specialist for a Columbia health care company, placed her planner on the roof of her car as she was pumping gas and forgot to retrieve it.

She headed to the Value City Furniture store in Glen Burnie -- where a friend, Cedric Tarpley of Glen Burnie, was waiting for her to help her bring back mattresses to her townhouse in the 500 block of Jerry Road.

When she arrived at Value City, Robles suddenly "knew" what she had done. Her planner and the $900 she had to buy the mattresses and pay bills were gone.

She and Tarpley returned to the gas station. But nobody had turned in a planner, the gas station attendant told her.

They searched garbage cans and the station bathroom, but found nothing.

"I was crying and hysterical," said Robles, who returned to her home with Tarpley to tell the bad news to her fiance, James Vega, 29, a National Security Agency contractor.

Vega and Tarpley went back to the gas station to look again.

Meanwhile, Robles cried and prayed "to God" to put the planner "in the hands of a decent person who would return it."

When she went upstairs to wash her face, she noticed the blinking of the red light on the bedroom answering machine.

Waiting was a message from Philip Bruce, 60, also of Millersville, a construction quality manager for the Washington Metro System. Bruce said he had found her planner.

A neighbor drove Robles to Bruce's home in the 8000 block of Mimico Court.

"You're my guardian angel this day," Robles said she told Bruce. "You have answered my prayers."

But Bruce doesn't view himself as a hero.

"I think maybe that's something she feels in her heart," he said. "I was just glad to get her wallet back to her."

Bruce said he was driving home from Northway Shopping Center on Veterans Highway in Millersville when he saw something in the middle of Old Mill Road.

At first, he hesitated and drove by it. But something made him turn around, he said. He stopped his car, and darted through rush-hour traffic to pick it up.

Bruce searched the planner for the owner's identification, but he never realized it contained $900, he said.

Knowing that "wouldn't have mattered" anyway, he said, because he would have returned it.

Robles said that when she told Bruce she wanted to give him a reward, he refused to take anything. She said she had planned to give him a $100 bill.

"I was just glad to be able to retrieve [the planner] and give it back to who it belonged to," Bruce said. "I didn't do it for any reward."

Robles did manage later to persuade him to take a gourmet food basket, complete with French cheeses, coffees and crackers.

And Robles said she's learned her lesson.

The planner, she said, is "going to stay in the car."

Pub Date: 3/09/97

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