cab driver interiorOn Sunday night, July 13, a 71-year-old woman left a leather satchel filled with her life’s savings in cash on the back seat of Qurbe Tirmizi’s cab. Despite the circumstances, she said she felt in her mind she’d get it back. When 20-year-old Tirmizi found the bag he had no trouble deciding what to do next: He took it to the police.

Later officers found identification leading them to the woman who was brought in to collect her money and meet the cab driver.

“He’s a very nice, kind gentleman,” the woman said. “I don’t think there’s six like him… I love him.” When she tried to give him a reward, he refused it, saying he just needed her blessings to help him through his studies and succeed in life.

Qurbe Tirmizi is a gemology student and aspiring jeweler at the Gemological Institute of America, driving a cab on weekends. Born in Pakistan, he moved to the United States when he was two. He was raised with his brothers and sisters in an apartment in Kew Gardens in Queens.

”I’m very proud of him,” said his father, Syed Tirmizi. “We are Muslims, and we try to go according to the teachings of God and the prophets. One main thing is to be honest, just and honest.” A neighbor who has known the younger Tirmizi for years said, “I would have expected him to give the money back. Money is nothing, honesty is more important.”

Mayor Rudolf Giuliani invited Tirmizi to City Hall to congratulate him. (The New York Times reported Tirmizi was apparently reluctant to cut his gemology class so the mayor invited his teachers along as well!) “This really demonstrated what most of our taxi drivers and citizens are like,” exclaimed the mayor!

The woman had been unhappy with her bank and closed her account of $32,859.05. She decided the money would be most safe if she carried it around with her. Police said they were helping her to convert the bag of money into a check and open a new bank account. “I learned my lesson,” she said.

(From a story by MICHAEL COOPER in the New York Times)

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