A Good Samaritan Goes The Extra Mile
--by Malcolm, posted Oct 2, 2009
For Brian Tapp, not even having a horror day could overcome his bowerbird instincts. Driving along Alison Road in Randwick last month, the 59-year-old florist was contemplating failure: evicted from his Clovelly shopfront that morning, he was transferring some effects to his base in Kingsford. As he passed the entrance to Randwick Racecourse, Mr Tapp noticed something on the road. He pulled over. It was 10.15am. His day was about to change.
Adam Morison's day was about to change too, but he didn't know it yet. If anyone in eastern Sydney was feeling worse than Mr Tapp it was Mr Morison, who had arrived at Sydney Airport at 10am for a noon flight to Bali. As he got out of his car, he went into a panic: he did not have his wallet, his passport, his money or his itinerary. "I was gutted," he said. "The surfing holiday was over before it had started."
Mr Tapp has been a self-described bowerbird for years. ''I just like picking things up. Sometimes they're things that you can't find their owner, like a silver Parker pen I found 30 years ago. But twice I've found mobile phones on the street and located their owners. One was very grateful. She'd been having a fight with her boyfriend and he'd chucked it out of the car.''
This time, he found "a wallet waiting to be run over" on six-lane Alison Road, a passport and travel itinerary. Before looking inside the wallet - "I didn't even count the money" - Mr Tapp read the itinerary. "The first thing I noticed was that the owner of the passport was on a flight leaving at midday. It was 10.15 when I found it, and I just thought, 'This bloke's going to be at the airport in a bit of a state. So I'll see if I can find him.'" He went to a phone box - not to change into his cape, but to call the airline on the itinerary.
Mr Tapp told Pacific Blue, which did not have Mr Morison's number, that he would drive to the airport. Pacific Blue called the wife of one of Mr Morison's travelling partners, who in turn called him. By then Mr Morison was despondently retracing his earlier journey, contemplating the end of his holiday and the loss of passport, credit cards, other valuables and a substantial amount of cash. "I was just thinking, you idiot. I'd been looking forward to the trip so much that in my excitement I must have left my wallet and passport on the roof of the car."
About 10.30, he received a call telling him that a bearded Good Samaritan had saved his day - if he could get back to the airport in time. Mr Tapp said: "I'd pulled up in the departures area and put my hazard lights on. I was looking at the time, thinking this bloke's going to miss his flight." At 10.45, Mr Morison arrived to the vision of "this angel with a beard. I still can't believe it. I'm a perfect stranger, and he's having a shocking day, yet he's picked up my passport, my wallet, all my stuff, found a way of contacting me, and has gone out of his way to make sure I get my flight."
Yet Mr Tapp's work wasn't finished. After thanking Mr Tapp and trying to gather himself to check in, Mr Morison realised some cash and cards were missing. "Don't worry," Mr Tapp said. "I'll find it." So, while Mr Morison raced to board his flight, Mr Tapp drove back to Alison Road. "I found the money, a Medicare card, a MasterCard, and his barrister's identification card. Amazingly, they were still lying on the road."
While Mr Morison flew out, still unable to believe his luck, Mr Tapp delivered the lost effects to Mr Morison's home. "It's what I'd expect anyone to do," Mr. Tapp said. "I'm a person who really hates losing things, so I can put myself in the place of the owner." Beyond that, he has no real explanation for his altruism: no firm religious or ethical practice, no moralising. "It's just the way I was brought up, I suppose."
Mr Morison has been doing his best to drum up business for Mr Tapp. In the four weeks since the incident, Mr Tapp says business has improved. "That's not why I did it anyway. I just know how much I hate losing things."
-- MALCOLM KNOX
The Sydney Morning Herald
September 26, 2009
Good Samaritan ... Brian Tapp, left, found Adam Morison’s wallet and passport and rushed them to the airport so he could catch his flight in time Photo: Dallas Kilponen