SUN CITY, AZ — “Norm?” said Robert Schunzel.
“Hey Robert, how are you?” said Norm Friedlander.
“How you doing Norm,” exclaimed Schunzel.
They may have started out as strangers, but Norm Friedlander and Robert Schunzel are now bonded for life through a simple act of kindness. The two are meeting for the first time over Zoom Friday.
“I swear we were taking off and I looked at my wrist and I figured, you know what, that’s a goner,” said Schunzel to Friedlander.
Two weeks ago, Norm and his wife were dropping off his grandkids at Gate 4 inside Terminal 3 at Sky Harbor Airport for a flight to Seattle.
“The plane pulled out and Barbara and I started walking and all of a sudden, it was Barbara who says look it, there’s a watch,” said Friedlander when we interviewed him for our original story.
But it turned out, this was no ordinary watch. Sitting on one of the chairs was a Pulsar Chronograph men’s watch with a blue face, but it was what was on the back that caught Norm's attention.
“I’m looking at the watch and I turned it over and on the backside of it, there’s your initials and it says Boeing 30 years,” explained Friedlander over Zoom. "I worked for only two companies throughout my career so I knew how special this watch must have been. I knew the person who owned it earned it through dedication."
Engraved on the watch were the initials R-J-S. It celebrated 30 years at the aerospace company and had the date 2017. The airport lost and found was closed so Norm made it his mission to track down the owner. ABC15 aired the story, hoping someone might be able to point us in the right direction. Sure enough, emails from Boeing employees poured in over two weeks. Giving us all the clues, we needed to eventually find Robert John Schunzel.
“I loved my career at Boeing, loved it, it was awesome, and I wear that watch all the time," said Schunzel. "That’s why I was like you’ve got to be kidding me.”
The heavy equipment operator says he had taken off the watch to reset the time prior to the flight to Seattle right as they were called to board. He was stunned when a few weeks later he learned of Norm.
“Honestly, that kind of brought a tear to my eye, just the fact that there’s still people out there with your character that would go to the trouble to not only get it, but to find a way to get it back home,” Schunzel said.
In a few weeks, they’ll finally meet in person and this precious item will return to its rightful wrist. All while establishing a fast friendship along the way.
“I look forward to meeting you Norm,” said Schunzel before the Zoom ended.
“We’ll go have lunch together,” said Friedlander.
“Perfect,” said Schunzel.