Bay Ridge — The true spirit of the holiday season lives in three residents of this community, whose story will surely bring a smile to everyone’s face.
As the holidays quickly approached, Faried “Freddy” Assad misplaced $1,640 in cash and thought he had lost it forever. But, thanks to Chris and Michelle Shim, he got his money back and vowed to do something nice for them in return.
The story began a few weeks ago when Assad, a 72nd Street resident, went to the Shim’s dry cleaning store, Prime Cleaners, at 7311 Fifth Ave., to get a pair of pants hemmed. It was the first time he had used this particular dry cleaner.
Assad, owner of the Zaytoons restaurants in Carroll Gardens, Fort Greene and Prospect Heights, accidentally left $1,640 in cash in one of the pants pockets.
“I don’t know why I left the money in there. The pants were brand new,” he said.
After the fitting, Assad left the pants with the Shims and went on his way, unknowingly having left his money behind.
Later that day, he realized that he didn’t have his money.
“I was looking for the money. I couldn’t find it. It never occurred to me that I left it in the cleaners. I turned my car upside down. I didn’t want to tell my wife. I thought she would be upset with me,” Assad said.
His mind was racing.
“I was trying to figure out how I was going to make up for losing the money,” he said.
Meanwhile, back at Prime Cleaners, Chris Shim was folding Assad’s pants when he felt something in one of the pockets. He reached in and discovered the cash.
“I found the money in his pocket. I didn’t count it. I told my wife and she called him,” Shim said.
Dry cleaners routinely request customers’ names and phone numbers when the customers leave their clothing. Michelle Shim tried to reach Assad by phone, but to no avail.
“There was no answer,” Chris Shim said.
The Shims put the money in a small brown paper bag and set the envelope aside. Chris Shim hemmed the pants. He then put the pants on a hanger, covered them with a plastic bag and pinned the envelope containing Assad’s cash to the bag.
Three days later, Assad, who had given up on finding his money, trudged back to the dry cleaner to retrieve his newly hemmed pants.
“He handed me my pants with a brown paper bag attached to it,” Assad said. “I opened it and, sure enough, there was my money. I was so relieved. It felt wonderful and I’m so grateful. I really am.”
“We gave him the money. He was so happy,” Chris Shim said.
It never occurred to Shim to keep the money.
“No, no, no. That wouldn’t be right,” he said.
Assad tried to show his gratitude by giving the Shims a big tip.
“I offered Chris a $200 reward. He refused to take it,” Assad said.
Determined to pay the couple back for their honesty, Assad decided to offer them something else.
“I told them I would treat them to dinner in one of my restaurants. I was happy when they said yes,” he said. “I’m happy I’m going to be able to do something nice for them. They’re really nice people.”
The couple will be treated like royalty when they dine at Zaytoons, Assad vowed.
The restaurants serve Middle Eastern cuisine.
By the way, this wasn’t the first time the Shims have found money in a customer’s pocket.
“It happens sometimes,” said Chris Shim, who first opened his dry cleaning store in 1996. The Shims said they always do the same thing — place the cash in a brown paper bag to return to the customer.