Thoughts on Life & Leadership

A Junto Strategy Project

More Was Returned Than Just A Cell Phone

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 10.42.26 AM There’s a classic scene from the movie Tommy Boy where the main character  Tommy Callahan, who is played by Chris Farley, sits down on a bench after having his “final” effort to save his family business fail.  Just when he thought things couldn’t get any worse the bench he is sitting on buckles and breaks underneath him.

At that point, Farley’s character quips in a moment of final exasperation, “Could’ve done without that.”

Last Friday morning, I was having a Tommy Boy bench moment. A project that I’ve been working on for a year had stalled once again, and I was at that point where I couldn’t take another rejection or piece of bad news.

I was on my way to an appointment and had taken the metro. It was an uneventful ride into the city. I did some reading, some pondering, and some self motivation talk so that I was not “Daniel Downer” for my 9:00 appointment given the string of setbacks and feelings of failure that surrounded my stalled project.

I reached my stop and hurried off the metro to go to my appointment. As I reached the escalators, I felt something was missing and began franticly feeling through all my pockets for my cell phone, which had the contact information for the 9:00 appointment.

The phone was gone.

That sick feeling when you’ve lost something you needed swept in. I had left it on the metro bench where I had been sitting. I was definitely at my “could have done without that” point. I went over like Farley’s character and just sat down on a bench at the Metro stop and put my head in my hands.


His name was Gino.

I am sure that when Gino began his morning on Friday he had no idea the impact of one small decision – one small act of kindness – he’d make later that morning would have on another human being.

Gino was on my same metro car sitting just a few rows behind where I was sitting. As he got up to get off at our mutual metro stop, he glanced over and on the seat noticed that someone had left their phone. Instinctively perhaps because he’d lost his phone before, he picked the phone up and began to try to figure out how to get it back to its owner.

By the time I reached my 9:00 meeting, Gino had been able to connect with the man with whom I was to meet in order to give him contact details so that I could get my phone back. As it happened the fellow I was supposed to meet had gotten sick and was trying every way he could to get ahold of me to let me know he wouldn’t be in and his multiple calls enabled Gino to pick up the phone and figure out how to get me back my phone.

I called Gino, and we set up a time to meet at his office after I finished another meeting.


I met Gino in the lobby, and he handed me my phone. I thanked him, and his natural response was to say that it was “no big deal.”

At some level that was true. Gino had simply returned a cell phone. The cell phone was replaceable.  Yes it would have cost me money I didn’t have sitting around to spend on a new phone. But it wasn’t my house or a cure for cancer or one of my children that he had saved or provided or rescued.

On the other hand, the return of that cell phone was much more than the return of a easily replaceable item.

In that dark and trying moment, a small act of kindness provided relief far beyond the value of the actual iPhone itself. In a very significant way, what Gino returned that Friday morning was a little bit of hope – something I actually needed much more than the phone.

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This entry was posted on November 20, 2017 by in Leadership, Personal Reflections and tagged , , , .

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