Thursday, May 17, 2012

Doing Right

There is no moral precept that does not have something inconvenient about it.

Denis Diderot
Hello Bruce
What would you do if you were walking down the street and you spied lying there a paper bag filled with one hundred dollar bills? Would you leave it lying there, take it to the police or put the money in your pocket and walk on? I was always a little bit amazed and incredulous whenever I heard stories of people finding money or other valuable items and not keeping them for themselves but finding the owner somehow and returning them.

I say I was amazed until it happened to me. I entered a men's room in a remote area of Penn Station in New York City. It was not a crowded area and there wasn't much human traffic through there. As I was about to leave I saw a wallet lying on the floor. I picked it up and saw that it was stuffed with money. It was so thick with bills that it didn't close all the way. I was close to the skids at the time and I sure could have used that money. But a moral sense I wasn't even aware I had kicked in.

It was a long walk down a hall to a long flight of stairs and then picking my way through the crowd to get to the Information Desk. When I got there I looked at the ID inside and told the operator who paged the man. It turned out he was standing right there telling another operator about his lost wallet. When he heard the page he said "That's me." I held out the wallet and said "Is this yours? I just found it." The look of gratitude and relief on his face was worth the effort.

Another incident happened on a train leaving Penn Station. It was Christmas Eve and the train was packed. I slipped off my backpack and took a seat. A fellow got on with several large bags. The overhead luggage racks were very full and he had to put his bags here and there in various places. When he reached his destination he wasn't prepared, so he quickly grabbed the bags from where they were. But he forgot one. I shouted to him as he was going down the aisle. "Sir, is that your bag?" He started back to get it. The bell signaled that the train was about to start up again. I said "Go ahead. I'll bring it." Another man at the front jumped up to get the conductor to keep the train from starting. I got the bag off the rack and brought to the door of the car. The owner was already standing on the platform when I handed it out to him. Again there was a great look of relief. Who knows? Maybe it was his kids' Christmas presents

The tail of this tale is that when I returned to my seat there was another man sitting where I had been. When he saw me he got up saying "I was guarding your back pack."

DB - Vagabond
Never give up.


pacific62 said...

Lovely stories db and gives one renewed faith in humanity in doing the right thing. I have heard it said that one needs to be careful if they find a bag of money with no ID as it could be drug money and someone will be hunting you down and you best not get in their way or think that you are keeping that money. I have returned things when I could and gotten next to no thanks for it. I returned a cell phone once and got accused of stealing it. Now when I see one, it stays where it is.

Geo. said...

A good story with a good ending. There does seem to be an ineffable justice at work. As a gardener, I found lots of wallets, all of which got back to their owners --sometimes they'd bring me donuts. I'll do anything for donuts.

Arlene (AJ) said...

Such a wonderful read of your kindness and others and the honesty of people. I've returned a wallet someone had dropped and just the other day when I got home realized that the store hadn't given me my other bag of stuff. When I called and said I didn't have it, they said to come back and they'd replace it. As I came thru the door they said a gentleman had just come back and returned my other bag, realized that it wasn't his when he got home. Nice to know that even today there are people who are honest and wouldn't take anything that wasn't truly theres.