Saunders: A conscientious server, a bumper sticker and a happy ending

bsaunders@newsobserver.comJune 8, 2014 

Colin Flannery and his girlfriend, Shannon Hearns, were celebrating Shannon’s return from Las Vegas eight days ago when, you could say, they were touched by an angel.

You could say that, but they wouldn’t.

After celebrating at the Mandolin restaurant in Raleigh, the couple got in Flannery’s car and headed home, probably anxious to continue the homecoming festivities. Before they could, though, the telephone rang. It was Grayson Hall, their waitress from the Mandolin.

Hearns, 38, said, “We were very surprised” when the waitress called and asked “‘Did you lose something?’ We weren’t quite sure what she was referring to. She didn’t want to be specific.”

Flannery, 48, said, “She didn’t come out and say ‘Did you lose $30,000 worth of jewelry?’, the risk being that anyone could have said ‘Yes it is ours.’ She was being a bit vague, but then Shannon looked and realized what she was talking about.”

Detective skills

Hearns said they went to the restaurant the next day to retrieve the jewelry and to thank Hall, who’d had to employ detective skills to determine to whom the jewelry belonged.

“It was in the street,” Flannery said. “It wasn’t even in the restaurant, because it fell out of our car. She just wanted to check with us because she was near where we were parked. She remembered our bumper sticker. She extrapolated that it was probably our car based on where we were parked.”

The couple had parked in front of the restaurant and was seated on the patio. “We were talking about the bumper sticker on our car,” he said. “From that, she knew where we were parked. She knew our telephone number from when I had made the reservation.”

Ah, yes. The bumper sticker. What, I asked Flannery, did it say?

“Proud atheist,” he said with a laugh.

You see. That’s why you could say, but they won’t, that the couple was touched by an angel to have so much valuable jewelry returned.

After what some might consider the providential return of their valuables, I asked, are they still “proud atheists”?

“Still proud atheists,” Flannery said, laughing. “So is (Hall) by the way. That’s what the conversation was about.”

Well, to whom did they give thanks?

Whom to thank

They could start by thanking Hall’s parents for raising such a conscientious daughter. They could also thank Sean Fowler who, along with his wife, Lizzie, owns the restaurant.

Fowler said he was “pretty proud” of his waitress, “but not surprised. We think we have a staff with a lot of character and integrity. I’d like to think most, if not all, of my staff would have done the same thing.”

Hall, 31, said she has been a waitress for 10 years, at Mandolin for eight months. So, does she aspire to be a detective, based on the way she tracked down the owners of the jewelry? They were the second customers she called to find its owners, she said.

“I’m putting my husband through school now,” she said. “He’s in the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Program at N.C. State. When he finishes next year,” Hall will then go to pharmacy school.

I asked if the couple had given her any reward. “Not that I’m aware of,” she said, noting that she’s been on vacation since the incident occurred. “I didn’t do it for that. I could tell it was valuable to somebody.”

Yeah, like a pawn shop, which is where it could’ve ended up had someone less conscientious found it. When I spoke with them, Flannery and Hearns sounded like delightful people, the kind who will show their appreciation for such honesty.

Why, I asked them, was that much expensive jewelry in the car?

“I had just arrived in town from Las Vegas. I had just flown in and I had all of my goods and chattel with me when we went to dinner,” Hearns said. “It slipped out of the bag” when she got out of the car.

Fortunately for her, what she took to Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas – or in the parking lot of the Mandolin restaurant.

Saunders: 919-836-2811 or

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