FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – It took seven months for Francis Humanick, 74, to earn $1,500 — and mere minutes to lose it when his wife left her purse hanging on a chair at a Florida fast food restaurant.
But what could have been a catastrophe had a happy ending for the couple. A teenage busboy found their money and the Wendy's restaurant in Fort Pierce held it for them.
"You hear so much terrible news," Humanick said. "The moral of the story is we have good honest people here."
The saga began when Humanick and his wife, Peggy, were returning from a trip to Orlando to watch their granddaughter's soccer tournament. Peggy Humanick had the money in her purse, which she left on the back of her chair at the Wendy's.
The couple didn't notice the missing bag until they got back home to Boca Raton.
Matt Cureton, 19, said he was cleaning tables when he saw a black handbag with flowers and peace signs. He said he never opened the bag, per the store policy, and gave it to his manager, Betsy Hersha.
"I just did what I would hope everyone would do in that situation," Cureton said. "If I lost my wallet I would hope someone would return it rather than taking from it. I try to live by that standard — the golden rule."
Wendy's manager Chris Berg said purses get left behind as often as once a week. He said the bags are stored until they are described and claimed, and then managers verify it with ID.
Once the Humanicks realized the purse was gone, they said they canceled credit cards, called the store and drove more than 80 miles back.
Francis Humanick said he had earned the $1,500 while working at a Long Island golf course for minimum wage as a starter and a ranger. Humanick said he had been squirreling away the cash, in part to get his trailer's roof in Boca repainted.
Hersha said she had to encourage Cureton to accept his $100 reward. He was so surprised and grateful he burst into tears.
"I hugged him, I told him I'm very proud of him, use the money on himself," Hersha said. "I told him 'You did the right thing.' In this day and age, a lot of people don't do the right thing."
Cureton is working at the fast food joint hoping to save enough money to go to college. He wants to major in English and become a writer. So the reward money will go into savings — all of it. He said he otherwise would have had to work 12 hours for it.
"It was very considerate of them, they were a very nice couple," he said. "They didn't have to give me anything."