Most cab-riding New Yorkers empathize with the plight of the preoccupied traveler. He jaywalks to the barely stationary cab and scrambles in, worries over the car’s speed, and spends minutes calculating the appropriate tip before grabbing his belongings and exiting. Often during these harried rides, something is left behind: keys; a cell phone; a wallet; or, as happened to jeweler Thierry Belisha in perhaps the most horrifying cab mishap ever, a suitcase full of diamonds worth half a million dollars.
Belisha was traveling with Haimy Mann, his partner in a Montreal jewelry store. The two had been in New York for the JA Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and took a taxi to LaGuardia Airport for their return flight home.
“It took not even 10 or 15 seconds” before they realized they had left their diamond-filled suitcase in the back of the vehicle, Belisha told JCK. But by then, the cab was nowhere in sight.
It is a lesson often learned too late that one cannot identify or find a cab without knowing the numbers above its hood or, at the very least, the driver’s name. Belisha didn’t know either. An orthodox Jew, he called several rabbi friends in Israel and asked them to pray for him. His prayers were answered by his New York cab driver, Hossam Abdalla of Brooklyn, who found both the diamonds and Belisha’s stray business card in the trunk.
Is it surprising that a man would go out of his way to return the diamond-filled suitcase of a stranger? Abdalla, a Muslim, sees the return simply as the decent, humane thing to do. “I feel like I represent every responsible New Yorker,” he said. “In Brooklyn, there are good people that this city can count on.” Perhaps because the potential loss was so dramatic for him, Belisha—who gave a reward to Abdalla—is decidedly more impressed: “It’s a miracle story,” he told JCK.
The two have since become friends, and Belisha has even given Abdalla job advice. Clearly impressed with the cab driver, he and Mann said in a letter to Abdalla: “This story holds a greater message in which being honest and doing good to others is rewarding and should not depend on race, religion, or color.”