Act of honesty; lost diamond returned by restaurant employee

 photo of Patricia Christophersen
photo of Patricia Christophersen (KTUU)
Published: Feb. 24, 2017 at 2:48 PM AKST
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The headlines are full of stories about crime, theft, violence, and tragic loss. This is a story about honesty, integrity, and the power of doing the right thing.

It began Wednesday night, when Rachel Saldana was at a planning dinner with friends at Carlos Mexican Restaurant in south Anchorage.

"I was helping out with the Alaska Miss Amazing Pageant," Saldana said. "We're doing a fundraiser. It's a pageant for girls with disabilities."

But the fun evening soon turned into a frantic search. Saldana noticed that the diamond was missing from her wedding ring.

"So, we started looking. Everybody started looking here for her stone," said restaurant manager Josie Gonzales.

Saldana, her friends, and restaurant employees could not find the diamond. She left thinking that she would never see it again.

"My heart just sank," she said.

Patricia Christophersen, who buses tables at the restaurant, asked Saldana for her cell number and she promised to keep looking.

"I had an inkling that she had lost it in the bathroom," Christophersen said. "Because that's where she had been changing her kid's diaper."

After the restaurant closed, the restroom had already been cleaned by another employee. But Christophersen decided to look again before leaving for the night.

"I checked it one last time, after my other buser had cleaned that bathroom," she said. "And miraculously, it was right behind the door, like, right behind the door on the ground!"

Christophersen called Saldana at 11:00 p.m. to give her the good news.

"I was like, 'Are you serious? You actually found it?' I felt so relieved at that moment," Saldana said.

Saldana is grateful for Christophersen's honesty and integrity. She realizes that Christophersen could have just kept her diamond, and no one would have ever known.

Saldana said, "She could have completely taken that diamond and sold it at a pawn shop, or wherever, to make a little extra cash, to be able to take care of things going on in her life. So the fact that she was so honest, and had so much integrity to contact me back and return it, was really amazing."

Christophersen says the thought of keeping the diamond never crossed her mind.

"I always think about karma, and if it were me, I'd want somebody to return it to me," Christophersen said. She added, "If it's not rightfully yours, don't take it. If you want something, ask for it. The worst that somebody can say is no, and then work for it if you really want it."

Christophersen had lots of incentive to keep the diamond and sell it. She said her car was recently involved in a multi-vehicle wreck on the Seward Highway and she can't afford to repair it. She also says she's homeless and living in a friend's paint shop.

But Christophersen said, "What goes around, comes around. The world is what we make of it. And honestly, if we want a better place, if we're tired of this place where it's amazing that somebody did something that should be common sense, then it starts with every individual. Whether you believe that, you can change everybody around you. You can change everything around you."

Christophersen added, "You know, in today's society, people don't do anything, unless they are getting a reward at all. I didn't expect a reward."

But Saldana and her husband did give Christophersen a cash reward for returning the diamond, along with their gratitude.

"Thank you so much Patricia for getting my diamond ring back," Saldana said. "It really means a lot, and I'll be forever grateful to you."

Christophersen told KTUU, "It just felt good to do something right. I like making people smile. It's the best reward you can get."