“A Great Lesson In Trust, Patience and Humility” (Part 5 of 7)
“Well, this has happened to me before and I tell you what to do: Take it out of the bag and…do you have a fan of some sort?”
“Good…put it in front of the fan overnight and you’d never know it was wet.”
“Good idea, Rob…I’ll do that…so, where should we meet tomorrow?”
“I’ll be in the studio all day – maybe in the afternoon you could drop it by?”
“OK, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Wednesday, November 23, 1994,
9:30 a.m. , My house:
“Hello. . . Rob? This is Phillip. You know, I was thinking…could we meet earlier?”
He is worried I’ll have the police onto him.
“Sure . . . What time?”
“In about an hour?”
“I’ll see you then. ”
“Hey Rob…I feel really bad about this…I feel like a thief…”
“Naw, if you were a thief, you wouldn’t be bringing the camera back…you’re being honest…”
I was encouraging this man’s process of denials.
Old San Juan – 10:15 am:
As I approached the little park in front of the cathedral in Old San Juan, I saw Felipe’s green truck pull up along the curb by the oppposite side of the park He noticed me at the same time. I walked over to the truck and saw a large brown paper bag on the floorboard of the passenger’s side.
“Hey Rob, howya doin’? I got the bag….Get in the truck.”
I got in the truck and reached for the bag on the floor…
Shit, this is too much like some illegal deal where I’m gonna get my head blown off. Better yet, he’s probably a corrupt policeman that doesn’t want to get suspended from the force for stealing a camera, so he’s got a large bag that he will hand over to me after I give him money. But there won’t be a camera inside and I won’t find out it’s cocaine until I hear police cars screeching to a halt all around us. He looks over at me with a shitty smile and says: “You know, it didn’t bother me that you called the police about this…what really pissed me off is that now the wife don’t trust me and she’s dragging me to church everyday!”
There is a tap on the window of the passenger’s side. I turn and see a police 9mm in my face. Felipe smiles again and says to the police officer, “This is him….Book’em Danno!”
Felipe starts driving away in the truck. I should have been nervous but instead, I trusted my instincts that this guy was harmless, and not to mention, stupid.
I looked inside the bag. The camera was there. It also showed no signs of water damage, much less exposure to dampness or water period. Just like I predicted!
“Well, it looks like it’s OK, ” I said, “I’m glad you found it.” I was bothered that the film was missing.
“Did you find a roll of film in it?”
“No, Joe…that’s just how I found it.”
Yeah…when you went back to the pawn shop you sold it to!
“Well, a deal’s a deal…the camera appears to be in good shape and I’m just happy to have it back. I appreciate you bringing it back…I guess I owe you some reward money…”
He stopped the truck in an empty parking space. I reached for my left pants pocket and pulled out the one hundred dollars. Surely this guy won’t accept it. I counted it out in front of him. No response from him. I finished and paused before reaching for the other one hundred in my right pocket. I counted it out in front of him. Maybe he’s saving some Christian forgiveness speech until after I actually hand him the money…
Felipe took the money.