Would You Have Left It?

It’s only 8:30 AM, and I’m having a great day. Everything runs smoothly. I’m happy! I’m on top of things! Besides that, my own daughter’s on the cover of the newspaper for an art project at her school. Can this day get any better?

Then, as I exit my car, a wad of cash sits, blowing about my feet in the parking lot. What a day! Free money! It’s twelve dollars–a ten and two ones. I look around. No one in sight. Plus, it’s windy; it could have come from anywhere, and it’s going to blow off somewhere else.

So I put it in my pocket.

We’re studying ethical dilemmas in my writing class, and I tell my students about my good fortune this morning. They stare at me. They have opinions about this:

Didn’t you feel guilty? I mean, it wasn’t your money.
You basically stole it!
You could have left it for another person to find! 

I feel terrible. I tell the Italian Mama–to whom everyone should go when they feel terrible–and she says, “Heather, it was probably your money. It probably fell out of your car onto your boot.”


Looking back, I wish I would have left it for another person to find. I still don’t know.

What should someone do when they find cash on the ground? My youngest says, “Mom, you took it for yourself?” She can’t believe it. “It wasn’t yours. You should have gone to the police.” She thinks about it and says, “You didn’t even need it. Someone might have needed it.”

Well, if anyone lost twelve dollars in a parking lot today, let me know, and I’ll mail it to you! 

In small and large ways, I want to do the right thing!


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2 thoughts on “Would You Have Left It?

  1. I often ask some of the smartest people I know to help me with these types of dilemmas. “Try to find who it belongs to and then if you can't give it to someone who really needs it like the sick babies in the hospital or hungry people.” Kiddo wisdom is amazing!

  2. A very wise teacher once asked me why we are so willing to buck up and accept when bad things happen to us, but when some fortuitous serendipity comes along we agonize over it, and wonder if we deserve it, and consider what the right response is? Besides, the money was not the windfall; the gift that you received blowing in the wind was the wonderful way this small piece of good fortune made you feel. And I know you passed that blessing forward more than once today. Well worth twelve dollars!

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