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The Nation

N.Y. cabbie's ethics outweighed the tip

February 08, 2007|John Valenti | Newsday

MELVILLE, N.Y. — Cabdriver Osman Chowdhury said Wednesday that he never once considered keeping the 31 diamond rings he found inside a suitcase left in his Manhattan cab by a Dallas woman who had given him a 30-cent tip.

"Why would I think I could keep it?" said Chowdhury, 41, of Queens. "It wasn't mine."

Instead, Chowdhury did the right thing: He helped his supervisor track down the woman and returned the suitcase, a laptop computer and the rings. He seems embarrassed by those who think what he did Monday was extraordinary.

"I just do my job," said the native of Bangladesh, who has been in New York since 1992.

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, is a jeweler from Dallas, and she thanked Chowdhury with a $100 reward, he said. Chowdhury, who said he works 12 hours a day, seven days a week, declined at first.

Chowdhury said Monday night began as it usually does. He picked up the woman at the Hilton in Midtown and took her to her destination.

She gave Chowdhury a $20 bill for a $10.70 fare and asked for $9 change.

Later in the evening, he picked up three passengers. The group had luggage and upon opening the trunk, Chowdhury found a suitcase. He took it to his taxi garage, where he and his supervisor opened the suitcase, looking for identification, and found the computer and jewelry.

It was hours before they could track down the woman. She arrived at the depot well after midnight and offered the reward.

Before the woman left the cab depot, Chowdhury and his boss asked how much the rings were worth.

"She told me more than $30,000," he said.

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