Posted Friday, August 9, 2013 --- 2:21 p.m.
A suspicious package that ended up at Madison Metro's front office Thursday turned out to be full of mementos from a former employee's son.
Below is the incident report from the Madison Police Department:
In the post-9/11 world, it is often best to err on the side of caution, especially when it comes to suspicious packages. One arrived at Madison Metro's front office yesterday. "It was in an old shoebox, taped oddly, and we didn't recognize the return address," said a Metro spokesperson. The box was addressed to no one specific, just "Madison Metro." Eyebrows were raised a bit higher when it was determined the return address actually came back to an empty home in Minnesota. The parcel was placed behind a large marble reception desk as the MPD was summoned.
"The parcel had almost zero heft to it and I could hear something rattling around inside," remarked the veteran responding officer. He noted it was taped together in "slapdash fashion," and concurred that between the "makeshift appearance," and address issues, it is was good police were called. He quickly determined there was likely no imminent danger. "Based on my admittedly limited experience in this area, I did not believe a bombmaker would have left any loose parts. I slit open the sealing tape and lifted the lid."
As he did, he revealed nothing explosive, rather precious mementos of bus driving days gone by: a vintage 1970's era driver's cap, complete with a Madison Metro hat badge, an old ticket punch with worn leather holster, and a couple of lapel pins.
There was also a hand written note:
"I found these things when I cleaned out my dad's house. I wasn't sure what to do with them so I am returning them to you.
Sadly my dad has Alzheimer's and doesn't remember his 10 years of driving a bus for Madison Metro. I know he really enjoyed working for Madison Metro. He even did well at the bus rodeo!"
Madison Metro General Manager Chuck Kamp has written a letter back to the man's family:
"Thank you so much for sending the items you found from your dad's career at Madison Metro. We will keep these items and have them on display at various Metro officers to show other employees and visitors who ask about the history of transit here in Madison. Those of us who work here now owe a great deal to the men and women who went before us, like your dad, because we build on the successes of yesterday to improve the services for tomorrow. Please pass along our appreciation to your dad for his service to Metro. I wish you and your family the best in the future."
And so it is, that those important, cherished reminders, that an aging man proudly held onto for so many years - years he can no longer recall - will now help future generations connect with a rich past.
They could have been tossed, or sold an estate sale, but the long-retired bus driver's child knew well what they once meant to dad, and decided – in his honor – that they should be preserved for others to also enjoy.
And that is the story of a once suspicious package, kind of like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates: "You never know what you're gonna get."