If you came across some money laying on the ground that wasn’t yours, but theoretically might belong to strangers in close proximity to you, what would you do? Pocket the money? Ask the strangers if the money was theirs? Ignore the money?
This is the type of situation I noticed while at a local coffee shop recently. As you might remember from prior posts, I’ve occasionally ventured out to get some work done, with the idea that I’ll accomplish more while outside the home. While I’m generally successful doing just that, there are some times when it gets a little more interesting.
This time, I encountered someone who was kind of a squirreler. Well, except that he really wasn’t one, since he took the concept too far. You see, I think that squirreling away money is a great appoach in general, but integrity has got to be a part of it. I’m sure you’d agree. This guy went a bit too far, and took his interest in stashing money across the line. The dollar amount wasn’t big, but it was enough to be written up as another in the Squirreling Gone Wild series.
So, I was at a different coffee shop this time, sitting at a table on the left side of an aisle. There was a guy and a girl at the table in front of me, also on the left side of the aisle. Strangely, the guy kept making phone calls talking about politics. The woman, his companion, seemed to be putting up with this loudmouth. Anyway, at the tables on the right side of the aisle were seemingly innoecent people – a woman at the table direcly across the aisle from me, and a guy at the table in front of her. Each with computers.
Keep in mind that the four tables I just described, with 2 on each side of the aisle, were right in the middle of the restaurant. That aisle led from the front of the place all the way to the bathrooms and employee area in the back. The point is that the aisle had people walking back and forth periodically.
Anyway, here’s where the money issue showed up. All of a sudden, I decided that I needed a refill on the tea that I bought. Free hot water, you know:) So, I got up from my seat to go to the counter for that refill, and in the corner of my eye I saw something that made me freeze in my tracks: money!
Yes, there was a dollar bill of some type sitting on the floor, in the middle of the aisle between the 4 tables. it was just sitting there, waiting to be picked up by someone:)
As I walked by, I quickly had the thought that maybe I shouldn’t just pick it up. Just a split second decision, but I walked right by it as if it wasn’t there, but looked out of the corner of my eye at what dollar denomination it was. Lo and behold, it was a $5 bill! This got me thinking about the last time I found a $5 bill, where I took the money since nobody else was around to claim it. In this case, it was different – there were others present who might have dropped the money. So, I left it sitting there as I walked by.
After I got the refill, I made my way back to my table, once again walking right by the money just sitting there. Dang, I just wanted to pick it up. That could pay for dinner! Oh well, I thought – maybe I’ll get it later if nobody else picks it up. I guess I just felt guilty grabbing it right away, since someone there might have dropped it.
After a while, somebody had the nerve to pick it up. It was the guy sitting across the aisle, working solo on his computer. I watched as he sheepishly picked it up, looked at it, paused, then slowly looked around to see if anyone was watching. I was, and so was the woman across the aisle.
He then looked at us and asked if it was ours. When we both said no, he said he would hold on to it and drop it in the tip jar when he ultimately left – if nobody else was looking for it. He set the bill on the table, in plain view of anybody.
Wow. That’s cool! I felt a bit bad that I hadn’t even thought of giving the money to the employees there. Seemed like a noble gesture on his part, to think of giving it way since it wasn’t his.
Well, that’s not what he ended up doing! Later on, has he packed up his computer and papers, he quickly grabbed that same $5 bill from the table and stuffed it in his pocket. Then, he walked to the door – right by the tip jar, without even pausing. He left the place and just kept the money he found.
On the one hand, I don’t want to by hypocritical by bashing this guy’s behavior. After all, I had given thought to picking up the money if nobody else claimed it. Not that I ever did end up picking it up, but still. On the other hand, I do feel like the guy flat out lied to us about intending to drop it in the tip jar.
My take on the whole thing is that it would have been nice to just drop it in the tip jar as he had already suggested. Next best way to handle it would be to just leave it there. If all else failed, go ahead and pick it up – but be straightforward about it!
My Questions For You
What would you have done in that case?
Do you think like I do, that if he just would have been honest about pocketing the money without any pretense of being charitable, it wouldn’t have been so bad?