The world is full of awfulness and argument and invitations to despair.
Here, instead, is the story of a lost purse.
The purse, navy blue leather with metallic scrolls on the sides, belongs to Margaret Haefner, and she was carrying it early Wednesday afternoon when she boarded the Red Line at Clark and Division streets in Chicago. She was also lugging a backpack stuffed with a computer and textbooks she needed for her job as a professor at North Park University.
In the crowded train she found a seat, then tucked the backpack, which she rarely carries, between her feet. She placed the purse -- well, she's not sure where.
When it came time to switch to the Brown Line, she shrugged the heavy pack on her back and stepped off the train. It was only as she was boarding the Brown Line that it hit her: "Oh my God. My purse."
If you've ever lost something to theft or absent-mindedness, you know the stages of grief: Denial. (It's here somewhere.) Panic. (No. No! No!!!) Anger. (Bleep, bleep, bleep.) Self-loathing. (Only an idiot would let this happen.) Acceptance. (Sigh. It's only stuff.)
Riding north on the "L," Haefner was still in the panic phase. She called the Chicago Transit Authority, was told they'd be on the lookout. She called her credit card companies, covering her mouth to try to keep her business private.
The gray-haired man next to her couldn't help but overhear.
"I'm so sorry this happened to you," he said. "It's terrible to lose everything."
They commiserated until the Kedzie stop, and as she prepared to exit, he encouraged her to believe that her purse might turn up.
"Chicago may surprise you," he said.
At the college, a security guard let her into her office; her key was in her purse. She called the CTA again. No sign of her purse yet. By the time her husband came to pick her up, he'd already arranged to have the house locks changed and the car keys reprogrammed.
She took solace in the fact that everyone she encountered had been kind, including her husband, who instead of saying, "How could you do that?" said simply, "How can I help?"
As for her brand-new blue purse and its contents -- credit cards, ID cards, Ventra card, prescription sunglasses, AirPods, $100 in cash -- her hope of seeing any of it again was fading.
But Chicago may surprise you.
Soon after she got home that afternoon, Haefner received a strange email, a garbled transcription of a voicemail sent to her office phone.
It was from someone at the Caroline Hedger Apartments in the Rogers Park neighborhood. Saying something about her purse.
The apartments, exclusively for senior citizens, are in a 22-story building run by the Chicago Housing Authority. The residence is billed as "home to the most diverse population of residents in the entire CHA senior portfolio."
Haefner hurried over. When she arrived, she encountered people who were almost as relieved as she was. A resident had found the purse on the "L," she was told, and everyone was worried that something terrible had happened to the owner. They were glad she was alive.
The resident who found the purse, she was told, was shy about coming forward, but she did meet TaKeisha Champion, an assistant community manager at the building, the person who had figured out how to find her.
"I know how hard it is to reaccumulate IDs," Champion said when I called her.
"No ma'am," she said when I asked if she'd ever lost a purse. "But if it did happen, I would want someone to find me some type of way."
At the time of my call, Champion said that the resident who found the purse was on his way to the mosque and, besides, struggled with English, so I wasn't able to talk to him. But she explained how she'd done some sleuthing.
She found Haefner on Facebook, sent a message. When she didn't hear back, she figured out from Haefner's North Park ID where she worked, then called and left a voicemail.
"I was just really happy to help," Champion said.
And that's how Haefner, who gave Champion a reward, got her purse back, not a thing missing.
"I think this is pretty amazing, given the warning we always get about thefts on the trains," Haefner said when she emailed Thursday to say she thought this was a story worth sharing. "I'm sure those are true, but my experience shows that we are a city of everyday heroes, perhaps leaning more toward goodness and concern for each other than we give ourselves credit for."
And that's not really so surprising, is it?
(Mary Schmich is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Contact her at email@example.com.)