A Fistful of Dollars

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February 9, 2011

Yesterday I swung by the University of Winnipeg to pick up a book.  On my way back to the car I noticed a flash of colour standing out against the dirty white snow on the curb.  Lying there, as though nestled on some heavenly cloud was a bundle of cash.  There lay $100 dollars staring up at me with no indication of ownership.  I suddenly found myself in some sort of poorly contrived morality sketch.  What should I do?  Some of thoughts that ran through my head;

  1. Write a note with my contact information where I found the money so that the person could tell me the amount and denomination.
  2. Donate it to some worthy cause.
  3. Go back into the University and donate it to the hippies with a booth promoting sustainable agriculture.
  4. Leave it in the snow bank.
  5. Keep it.

I waited for a few moments in the car to see if anyone was frantically running around.  I waited longer . . . I did not like any of my responses.  1-3 seemed like some ‘noble’ redemption of this sullied money.  A choice which kept me in control of this all-too-valuable object.  5 just felt wrong and right at the same time.  4 may have actually be the best option because I felt that certainly no one else would give such thoughtful consideration to finding money as I will and they would proceed immediately to 5.  I certainly could not trust anyone else to be responsible with such a find.  In the end I decided to go in the nearest building which was the athletic building.  I went up to the front desk and told the girl what I found.  Recognizing the torn envelope the money was in she responded, “That must be Tim’s . . . I mean that was what Tim was supposed to deposit” as she pointed to their deposit box.  Hey, if she lied, good on her for being quick on her feet.  In any event, as I was leaving I heard her say, “You’re so honest.”  Ahhhh, I slept well that night.

I learned something from her comment.  Money implies dishonesty.  Honesty and money are unnatural.  As soon as money is detached from any recognizable or enforceable relationship immediate ownership upon discovery is assumed.  And why not?  Money shows no allegiance.  It does not bear the marks of enduring long-term relationship or loyalty.  It is built for pure mobility.  I have to say that I am glad it seemed to return the place where it would cause some undergrad the least amount of grief.  But I am also curious what you might have done?

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