By Sabina Mollot
The mensch of the month award officially goes to Eliana Polanco, a cashier at First Avenue restaurant City Wings, who went above and beyond her duties in order to return a forgotten handbag to a customer.
William Hsu, a manager at the restaurant, contacted Town & Village to share the story which began on Sunday evening, April 3, when a customer left her handbag behind. It was soon found by Polanco, who then stayed over an hour past her shift, which ended at 11 p.m. to see if the customer would return. She didn’t yet know who the bag belonged to, but when no one came to claim it that evening, Polanco rifled through it in search of identification.
She then learned that the bag’s owner’s name was Lauren and she lived on 18th Street, so after her shift at the restaurant, at the corner of East 20th Street, Polanco walked over to the apartment building. Once there, however, she saw that it was under renovation and all the tenants had been moved to a midtown hotel.
“That’s when Eliana decided to come back to the store to wait for the customer because Lauren had also left both of her cell phones inside the bag,” Hsu said.
Sure enough, a frantic Lauren did come back, asking if her bag was there. Polanco said it was and also confessed to having had to look through it.
“Lauren confirmed everything was in place and offered to take Eliana out for a late night treat,” Hsu said. “However it was late so she declined.”
The next day Lauren returned again though, this time with a thank you note and inside, $100 in cash as a token of her appreciation.
Polanco, Hsu added, grew up in a “not-very-well-to-do” family and lives in a Lower East Side housing project by the Williamsburg Bridge. “It’s good to know there are good New Yorkers from all walks of life,” he said.
The last time Hsu contacted T&V it was to warn neighboring businesses after a spate of scammers came in to the restaurant, trying to make purchases with fake $100 bills.
“Fortunately, there are also plenty of good people around us, like Lauren who came back with a nice gift for our cashier,” Hsu said.
He added that Polanco has always been a responsible employee despite having had heart problems since birth, which required numerous heart surgeries starting at the age of three.
He also praised another employee, Stephanie Cowan, who’s also a good friend of Polanco’s and lives down the hall from her, and also has a similar health history.
“Both Eliana and Stephanie are beautiful young ladies and extremely responsible workers despite their past health experiences. We are very blessed to have them both at the City Wings Café,” Hsu said.