No longer just hypothetical
I'm sure you've been asked a million times that age-old question of what you would do if you found $100 in the street and no one was around. It's such a cliché. And of course you don't want to sound like a jerk so you always say that you'd turn it in. I mean, it's not like it will ever actually HAPPEN to you, so you can say whatever you darn well please, right?

Well, it happened to us.

Nick picked me up from work tonight and we ran to our favorite sandwich shop to grab a bite before his kickball game. We ordered and sat outside on the patio for quite a while. And we were almost the only customers there -- I think a few straggled in as we were finishing up.

When we were done eating, we threw our trash away and started walking through the lot to our car. Suddenly Nick stopped in his tracks and looked down. And there it was in plain sight, a crumpled up $100 bill. It was like we were in this perfect little after-school special, the sun seemingly spotlighting the bill in between these two cars, like it was all set up by a production and lighting crew and just too stereotypical and cliché to be real. As far as I was concerned, this type of thing doesn't happen to anyone, let alone us.

The money was just sitting there out in the open like it was fake. We both initially thought it was some joke or something, like maybe it was attached to a string and someone was going to pull it out from under us if we stooped to pick it up. Then we thought maybe it was printed to look like a real $100 bill when it was all crumpled, and we actually expected to open it up it and see a message like "Haha, SUCKAHS!" or something.

But no, further inspections showed that it was authentic. The real deal. And no one else was in the parking lot for it to have an obvious owner.

There was a point where we both looked at each other with our greedy little eyes. There isn't a way to trace an owner when you are dealing with cash. Plus we figured once we flashed it around inside saying that we found it, that anyone could and probably would step up to claim it, even if it wasn't really theirs.

We went back and forth about what to do with it, and in the end we decided there was just no way we could possibly keep it and not feel guilty. So we went back inside and quietly asked for a manager. We asked if we could leave it with our name and number so that we could keep it if no one came in to claim it.

As we had the manager off to the side explaining, one of the employees noticed what was going on and looked rather panicked. He started pulling these wads of cash out of his pockets, all crumpled up the same way we found the $100 bill outside. I could tell he was genuinely worried and was looking through his bills for the big one. He said he knew it looked bad, like he was just claiming it out of the blue, but was it next to the passenger side of a green four-door car? He said he had just gotten his paycheck today and went to the bank to cash it, then stuffed it all in his pockets.

And I had just seen him out near his car on break, so we definitely believed him.

Anyway, our exciting find had an owner, and it was both a relief and a disappointment at the same time. However, it felt really good to do the right thing and turn it in, and it was an extra bonus that we could be there to witness the joy of the owner actually getting it back. This guy was young, probably in his early twenties, and we knew he definitely worked a lot of hard sandwich shop hours to rack up that much cash out of minimum wage. It was nice that it belonged to someone who really needed it, not some rich person who carries around several hundred dollars and barely notices it's missing.

He kept saying stuff like, "Why would you guys bring that back in?" The way he said it made it sound like he wouldn't have if the tables were turned. And we just told him that we knew if it happened to us, that we'd hope someone would turn it in too. And then he rifled through the rest of his wadded up bills in his pockets and tried to hand us something, whether it be a five or a ten or a twenty. We didn't even look, just told him to keep it.

We walked out of that shop with no extra money but literally felt like a million bucks. Again, it is so cliché, but the feel-good high that we were left with was well worth it, I think. To be honest, I'm actually still feeling it. And it feels better than a new pair of shoes would, which if you know me is saying quite a lot.


Anonymous alyndabear said...

That is such a sweet thing to do - SO many people would've just walked away. Even I would have had to think about it too. (Does that make me a bad person?)

Karma is coming back for you, my friends -- good, of course xo

I would have just figured there was no way to find the owner and kept it -- how great that you found the actual owner. I bet that if he's ever in the situation himself, he'll turn in the money now. It is really so cliched... but he won't forget.

I left my ATM card in the machine right outside a bar once, and the person who found it didn't try to steal my identity or take money out... she actually looked me up on the internet, found my address, and mailed it back to me!

Awesome people are out there :)

Blogger Chris said...

That's awesome. It sounds like you did the right thing. It sounds overblown but it's stuff like that that gives me faith that the world's an alright place.

Blogger Aimee said...

That is the best story! Though I will say that the whole time I was thinking, why do people crumple their money? because, well, I'd be more likely to IRON my money so it fit nicely in my wallet, in order, with the larger bills in back and the ones in the front. And yeah, I might be a little OCD.


Blogger Ginger said...

Sounds like your careful decision taught this guy a lesson he will hopefully pass on. Kinda like paying it forward. Your post gives me the chance to maintain my stance that people are basically good. Congrats on being a shining example!

Blogger L Sass said...

I also would have assumed that I couldn't find the owner. Not out of greed, necessarily. Maybe laziness.

But I'm sure you totally made the employee's day! If it happened to me after reading this, I would make more of an effort to find the owner!

Blogger heidikins said...

What an amazing story!! A similar thing actually happened to me, only I was the one that lost $100 bucks, it was in a birthday card with my name on it. This girl I barely knew found it in the highschool parking lot and gave it back. It's all about the Benjamins... or Karma... or both. :)


Blogger littlemissy555 said...

Great story Angela! I bet that kid was so happy to have the money back. I would've felt really great too in your shoes ;0)

Anonymous LaLa said...

You can't buy a feeling like that :)

Anonymous Katie said...

If only more people would act like you guys did. "Little" things like that make a big difference.

Blogger Lindsey said...

You definitely did the right thing and how awesome to actually find the owner! I can totally empathize with the "high" after doing something good. One day I helped a little old lady bring her groceries to her car because no one was helping her and it put me in a great mood all day!

Anonymous LaLa said...

Oh! You inspired me to write a post!

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