The Taxi and Limousine Commission recorded over 2,500 cellphones, wallets, purses and other items were accidentally left in taxi cabs last year alone. However, one thing that virtually never makes the list of items left behind is the ashes of a deceased person.
Family members and friends of a beloved New York City businessman reported the loss and ended up appreciating what happened. They called it a posthumous gift from their loved one, given in a way only he could.
“Absolutely humorous for dad’s ashes to go missing,” said the son of the deceased, who requested that his father’s identity not be revealed.
His dad’s final New York City cab ride began last Saturday and didn’t end until Monday when the cab driver was notified about the unusual cargo he’d been carrying for days.
The man’s remains were in a ceremonial wooden box. It was in a bag that was supposed to be transported by cab to a friend’s home in Harlem. A doorman at the destination forgot to unload the bag from the cab’s trunk, and off the ashes went all over the five boroughs.
“I think he prided himself on kind of being a prankster and definitely wanted to have the last word,” his son said. “And honestly, this felt very like him.”
Ousmane Keita, one of the man’s best friends, agreed.
“If you had to write a story, this is the ending he would have chosen,” Keita said.
Keita said that he, the family, and other friends feel like they received a gift by permanently having the story of their loved one riding around the city that he loved, one last a long time.
They also said they were grateful that the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s protocol for finding lost items worked in this case.
They contacted the TLC with the cab driver’s medallion number. The agency got in touch with the driver, who made sure to get the ashes to their rightful destination. They arrived 48 hours after they’d first taken the ride.
“Everyone, yeah, A-plus job,” said the man’s son about what had happened with his father’s cremains.
The man’s close friend specifically praised the cab driver.
“He’s a hero, he’s a hero,” Keita said and added one thing about his fallen friend: “The missing guy is also a hero.”
For his part, the man being hailed as a hero said he’s just practicing lessons he’s learned growing up in an observant Muslim family in West Africa.
“If I’m able to find you, I give it to you,” said Omar Nyass, the cabbie who’d transported the man’s ashes for days.
He said he’s turned in all other items he found in his cab over the years to the police.
In this particular case, Nyass said, he was living by a code he follows all of the time.
“What goes around comes around,” he said. “Whatever you do is going to come back to you, good or bad.”
For its part, the TLC praised Nyass, who will receive a letter of commendation from the agency’s external affairs unit.
The TLC’s press secretary also commended cabbies systemwide.
“Our TLC drivers are the best in the business,” said Jason Kersten. “And always go above and beyond to ensure New Yorkers – and their belongings – get where they need to go safely.”