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I know I’m honest.

I’m writing this post today because I was prompted by one that Robin over at Pensieve just posted, although I have been thinking about it for about a month. More precisely, I have debating for about a month as to whether I would write it or not because it’s a little bit self congratulatory and I’m not all that comfortable with it.

I was watching a TV show a while back and they were making a big deal about “how honest are you?”. Now this was one of those checkout magazine type shows so their aim was to show how low people are. They left a wallet with fifty dollars and some ID on a bench in Sydney and filmed the people who found it (I should say discovered it, as it wasn’t lost in the first place). I don’t know what editing was performed, but most either took the money and left the wallet or just pocketed the wallet and walked furtively away. Only two of them (both women) made any attempt to find an owner, one took it to the nearest shop, the other to a police station a block away.

The host then posed the question “What would you do?”. Well you know me, I wouldn’t be writing this for fun (well I would but that’s beside the point). As it happens, I know exactly what I would do. I know what I would do because not once, but twice I have found wallets. In both cases there were larges sums of money involved, and in both cases I managed to return them to the rightful owners.

The first time was before I met MDW, when I was living in a pub in Lithgow while working on a construction project. One night after I had my shower (this was in a shower block of about 10 showers) I found a wallet containing over fifteen hundred dollars. Now considering this was around 1976 and I was only 22 years old and had nothing, this was a lot of money. But I took it to the publican and he opened it and said that the guy was staying at the pub (which I had assumed) and that the would take me to him. The guy didn’t even realize he had lost it at this stage and was dumbfounded when the publican said “this fella has something for you” and I handed it to him.

The reason there was so much money in it was because that night was his last night before he went on holidays. Now there’s two things you need to know about Australia, a) we have never trusted cheques, until direct deposit came in (around 20 years ago) all wages were paid in cash, and b) we get four weeks annual leave. So this meant there was actually five weeks’ pay (less taxes) in the wallet.

The second time was just after MDW and I came back to Oz. I found a wallet with eight hundred dollars in a phone booth. When I checked the address on the driver’s licence it turned out to be only about half a mile away so I just walked it down. Once again it contained the guy’s whole wages and he had four kids so he was real pleased to get it. Oh yeah, I just remembered, this was just before Christmas.

The similarities between these two occurrences don’t end with the large amounts of cash and the fact that it was payday. In fact those are the reasons why they were lost in the first place. In both cases the guys who lost them were drunk.

So, the point of all this? The point is, Robin said that the reward was in knowing that you did the right thing, and she’s right, twenty years later I still get a warm glow when I think about it. Also, in both cases, the guys kept buying me drinks until I couldn’t stand up.

I won’t even tell you about all the times I’ve given back money when I’ve been given too much change (that would be just too goodie two shoes wouldn’t it?) but I have.

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14 Responses

  1. Grinning, nice warm & fuzzy story to go with my warm (not fuzzy) coffee. Glad you chose to write about it. Hmmmmm, I wonder if my boys will remember their version 10? 20? 30? years from now. Of course, theirs didn’t end with drunken binges, although Stephen’s was capped with ice cream.I had forgotten about this when I was writing yesterday, but about 3 years ago, Stephen found 20 bucks in a local Wal-Mart. When we finished our (dreaded) shopping, the four of us returned it to customer service (they thought we were nuts, too). Why does everyone question you turning in money??? But I don’t think I’ve ever found a wallet! What do you think? Do you think MOST people would at least try to find the rightful owner? Or are most like the people on the tv show you watched? I’d like to think the former…….:/

  2. I’d say the point is not to go drinking after you’ve just cashed your paycheck.And I’m pretty sure you get to go to heaven for these deeds.Unless you shoot a drifter or something.

  3. I don’t recall finding money anywhere except in my washing machine, and in an old pair of pants that didn’t fit anymore.You’re a good man, WT………..just like Robin’s boys

  4. Fifty dollars and I totally would’ve taken to the police. Up the ante to that fifteen-hundred you found… and, well, I’d like to think I’d also take it to the police but I can’t say with absolute certainty. I’m generally a good person, but large sums of money make my brain stop functioning properly. Guess I’ll never know until such a time as such a situation should arise for me.Till then I guess I’ll just hope I’m as good a person as you are.

  5. You just gave me the warm fuzzies too! What a great guy you are WT. I don’t care what anyone else says about you. :)I have found a wallet and returned it. I don’t remember if I even looked to see how much cash was in it. But I have accidentally dropped my wallet at the grocery store. The manager called to tell me they had it. I asked if all my cash – $100+ was still in it and he said yes. When I went to pick it up I wanted to reward the young man that found it and they said that they would rather I not. Something about company policy. But that I could give him a card or something not monetary. So I did. Oh, and YES! You caught me. I remembered yesterday on my way home from school that it was in fact my Second Meme. So I changed the title. Just messing with your mind. 🙂

  6. Of course you wouldn’t keep the money. Nor would I, and yes, it has happened to me too. I guess I could see if you had no way of identifying the owner, but if the info was in the wallet…how could you NOT find them?And when it happened to me, I don’t have any warm fuzzies really. I found the wallet in a parking lot, took the time and trouble to track the owner down by phone and when she asked me to come bring it to her, I did. She never even thanked me, just said that she was glad to have the money back. I think she was actually terrified that I was going to ask her for a reward or something. And Pete…tagging me. You KNOW how computer stupid I am. Was that wise? Or did you figure that I would have to learn something from the task?

  7. I’ve only found one wallet in my lifetime (at the mall). I opened it up to view the drivers license to see if I could pinpoint the guy – and found a License to Carry a Concealed Weapon. I quickly turned the wallet over to the Lost&Found. (I never even checked to see if their was any money) About 5 minutes later, I saw the guy so told him where his wallet was. (he hadn’t even realized it was lost, yet).And as far as money goes – if it is in a wallet, I’m turning it in – but the random $20 lying on the street or in the grocery store. Finders keepers. (so much for my intregity! – ie. Robin’s post – $5 at the bookstore was ALL MINE baby)

  8. i have to say, I’ve with Kamryn–random bits and bills of currency on the ground are fair game, but if I had seen it fall, that’s a different story. As for wallets, purses, etc, those go back to rightful owners including contents!! I forgot my wallet at Costco once and got it back! I was so relieved!!

  9. I have no recollection if I’ve ever found a wallet or a purse but I can tell I have had my purse stolen out of my locked car. I have found loose cash on the street. I have also lost cash in the rest room twice…fourty bucks each time. See, I don’t like purses or wallets so I would put my cash in my pocket and then when you go to the ladies, said pants get crumpled up a bit and violá, money for nothing…for someone else.I usually don’t take what is not mine. Once, some sand and gravel company was supposed to deliver 15 tons of dirt and a bag of polymer crystals. They forgot and we had to call them. The driver backed up in our back yard, dropped the dirt, went round front, got out and handed us the bag of crystals and the bill, which was for…$35. The cost of the crystals. I looked at my husband, he looked at me, I asked the man twice, are you sure this is correct, he said yes, I wrote out the check and off he went. Never heard another word. Gift of atonement for having forgotten us, oversight? I dunno. I often do stuff like you, but I’ve never felt the warm glow. I just didn’t think about it. It’s not mine and if I can return it, I will.I do dream of finding an enormous bag of money that fell off an armoured car. Now that would be the bomb diggity.Don’t think I’d be hunting down said owner of said bag though. ;0]Great post. World needs more folks like my friend Pete.♥Pam

  10. An honest man!! Wait a minute…that reads like I’m shocked…. 🙂 Seriously, I always try to find the rightful owner of lost items, too. It is just the right thing to do.

  11. This comment is totally off the money subject -I just wanted to clear up that when I first read your comment of 1 2 – I thought you said twelve – later in the day, I reread it and figured out what you truly meant (and then felt like a bunghole)! Thanks for letting me know anyway! yesterday was fun.

  12. Robin – I’m not so sure about finding cash, if you take it to customer service you’ve just given them a gift.Jenny – What!? Now you’re telling me that drifter is going to be a problem?James – I think it’s easier to return large sums than small ones. With small amounts you think “what difference will it make?”Julie – What???Laura – I knew it was going to end badly when you said she wanted you to bring it to her! WTF!!Karmyn and Claudia – Agreed.Pam – Wow, and I thought the post was long. Just kidding! Write as much as you like, anytime.Karmyn again – yes it was fun.

  13. Petepppbbbllltttt♥Pam

  14. I’ll try to keep this short. First of all, I enjoyed this post. This summer, my 7 year old son found 4 quarters in a vending machine at a local pool. He was thrilled to find it but knew it wasn’t his and asked me who it belonged to. I told him to take it to the concession stand and give it to one of the workers. After standing in line for twenty minutes, my child handed it to the manager and said “I found this in the vending machine.” The woman quickly took it and said “Yeah. I’ll need to keep that. It belongs to us.” No “thank you”, no “what a sweet boy”, NOTHING. Grrr.

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