Cab driver gets free cruise after returning $187,000 to passenger
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A Boston taxi driver who turned in a lost backpack filled with $187,000 in cash — and was handed $100 for his trouble — is getting a reward more commensurate with his good deed: a weeklong, all-expenses-paid cruise.
On Wednesday, Royal Caribbean contacted Raymond "Buzzy" MacCausland and his longtime girlfriend, Sharon King, to offer them a seven-day Caribbean cruise for two, including airfare to the port of departure in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Other rewards are in the works, and MacCausland and King are also hoping an online fund-raiser, with a modest goal of $5,000, might help loosen the financial squeeze they're in.
Word of MacCausland's good deed spread quickly this week. On Saturday, MacCausland, 72, picked up a homeless man outside a check-cashing store on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Tremont Street and chatted with the man as they drove a few blocks. The man jumped out to run an errand, promising to return quickly.
But after about 30 minutes of turning down other fares, MacCausland gave up and left — only to discover a backpack the man had left behind. After trying to locate the man at the hotel where he'd said he was staying, MacCausland checked the bag for identification. Out came the cash, and MacCausland went straight to the police.
Boston Police searched the bag, counted the money — $187,786.75 according to the receipt they gave Buzzy — and quickly located its owner. The man, who spoke anonymously to the Globe on Tuesday, said he had spent the last six months living at the Pine Street Inn and recovering from drug addiction. The money was an inheritance from his recently deceased parents — a fact he proved to police before they released the money back to him.
He'd left the cab, he said, then lost track of time. When he came back, the taxi and the money were gone. But he was never worried, he said: He could tell "Buzzy" was an honest guy.
The $100 tip was as much as MacCausland would accept, the man said, though MacCausland indicated he wouldn't have minded a bit more. Money is tight, he said, and the $187,000 was considerably more than he'd ever made in a year.
MacCausland, semiretired after 50 years of picking up fares, now works only weekends, busing down from New Hampshire and sleeping at a friend's house to make money to supplement his Social Security checks. But he said the job is also fun for him — chatting up passengers and circling the city.
"I love driving a cab," MacCausland said. "I drive every weekend. That's where the money is."
Sometimes, quite literally.
As word spread of the good deed — including talk of a commendation from Boston Police Commissioner William Evans — attention quickly focused on a cabbie whose heart was considerably bigger than his wallet.
"It's been crazy here," said King, from their home in Middleton, N.H. MacCausland was out filming yet another television interview.
She was eager to tell MacCausland about the cruise — a trip on either the Oasis of the Seas or Allure of the Seas ship, to destinations in Mexico, Jamaica, and Haiti or the Bahamas, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten, depending on the trip.
"We're currently running a program called 'Ticket to Adventure,' where we reward people that do exceptionally selfless acts, and Buzzy certainly qualifies," a Royal Caribbean spokesman said in an e-mail.
In addition, Larry Meister, president of Independent Taxi, said the company was putting together a reward to present to MacCausland when he receives his commendation. The online fund-raiser for MacCausland that King's son set up had collected $370 in the first 24 hours.
On Tuesday, MacCausland acknowledged he'd had fleeting thoughts of keeping the cash. Who wouldn't have?
"That would have been life-changing," he said during an interview at the Independent Taxi headquarters in Dorchester. "We could have traveled around the world." Now, he can.