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Dear Editor:

Mi Mochila Marrón

(My Brown Bag)


I’ve been in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for two of a four-week vacation to check it out as a winter retreat and possible escape route.

I’m usually hypervigilant, but I lost situational awareness and left my backpack in one of the thousands of green taxis here. I let the driver drop us off at the bottom of the street so he wouldn’t have to bother going up the hill to our house. Our doorway is close to the bottom, but he then couldn’t see where we entered even if he wanted to return it.

I realized my error as I walked in the door and had one of those “oh, s***t!” moments, so angry with myself.

I quickly determined that nothing irreplaceable was in it: copies of passports, my hospital ID, a few memory sticks, a Bluetooth earpiece, my wife’s Kindle, some fresh bread, and a brownie we had just bought at a wonderful bakery.

And lots of other little things that would be a pain in the butt to replace and likely come to a few hundred dollars in replacement costs (it was a nice bag, perfect for my travels too).

I did a bunch of things to try to track the cab down (I always get the cab number in the US, but not here because it’s all cash; no credit card receipt with the number on it.

Next morning, I’m planning on where to go to buy a backpack.

A hard rap on the door.

I opened it and was speechless.

There was our cabbie, my backpack in hand.

I told him to come in. Gave him a big hug, and he hugged me back.

How did he find me?

My MGH ID card in the bag. He went up and down the street, asking people if they knew me.

The woman in the tiny grocery store across the street, where we buy things every few days, told him where I lived.

Of course I gave him a big reward, about a week’s pay is my estimate.

I realized later that my joy wasn’t about the stuff.

I’d already replaced all of it in my mind.

My joy was that this person went so out of his way to do the right thing.

I’ve told this story to people we’ve met.

They say it’s not surprising. That’s the way people are in Mexico.

So opposite to the lies and propaganda spewed out by you know who.

So much bad news, nasty things happening.

Then a minor miracle to restore my faith in humanity a little.


Jeffrey Cooper


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