Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Honesty

I had an experience last weekend that got me to thinking about whether people are nicer and more honest during the holiday season than otherwise--including myself!

My husband and I were eating dinner at a restaurant when another patron came over and said “You dropped something,” and pointed toward the floor beneath the chair beside mine. I bent and picked up a nicely folded twenty dollar bill.

It wasn’t mine, and I considered what to do with it. I decided just to put it beside me on the table in case someone came to claim it while we were eating.

I also considered what to do if no one came by before we left.

Give it to one of the servers behind the counter to hold onto in case whoever dropped it came by asking for it once we left? Okay, I don’t really trust other people that much. I assumed it would be kept by the servers, which might have been all right as an additional tip, but was that what I wanted to do?

Keep it? Well, if I did that, I’d contribute it to some pet rescue organization.

It crossed our minds that this could be a Candid Camera situation, although we didn’t see any cameras pointed at us anywhere. But I could see some reality show taking shots at what people do with an unexpected, if moderate, windfall.

I thought it very nice of the lady who’d pointed it out to us. I also patted myself on the back for not even considering using it to help pay for my movie tickets that evening. Well, all right, the idea did cross my mind, but I rejected it quickly.

Good news: three young men, probably teenagers, soon converged on our table, obviously looking for something. I smiled and gestured at the bill on the table and they whisked it away. I suspect it was the funding for their evening of fun that night. My dilemma was resolved in the best way possible.

The scenario had gotten me thinking. If nothing else, it gave me some ideas for scenes in novels yet to be written where I’m delving into human nature!

How about you--what would you have done in this situation?


Liz said...

Good call.

I've given a $10 bill found under a table to the owner/cashier of a deli. Not very satisfactory but indelibly printed in my mind was losing money s a child and having it returned to me.

Janie Emaus said...

I probably would have given it to the server if no one came looking for it.

Linda O. Johnston said...

I like the idea of giving the money to the owner if it hadn't been retrieved, Liz. Not that all owners are honest, but at least they have an interest in keeping patrons happy!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Giving it to the server should work, too, Janie--especially if it's done with the request that it be given back to the owner if someone returns to claim it.

Lynn said...

I actually had something like this happen. It was this time of year and we were in a Sharper Image type of store. I saw what I thought was a folded $20, but it turned out to be 2 $20s and 2 $50s! My dh wanted to turn it in, but I didn't want to just hand it over to the clerk. I also dont believe it would be given back. As we sat there trying to figure out what to do, a woman with her mom came running up frantically asking if anybody turned in any money. Thankfully she described it in perfect detail what the bills were so I knew it was hers. Even if she didn't I could tell by the look of panic that it was hers. $140 is a LOT to lose, esp 15 yrs ago! We felt so much betterr that we didnt have to decide what to do with it. The mom came back, shoved a $20 in our hand and told us lunch was on her. She disappeared before we could give it back. But I felt better spending that twenty than I could spending that $140!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Kudos to you, Lynn--and I'll bet you made that family's holiday season! After posting this blog, I saw a segment on the Today Show today about a couple who had bought the house of a woman who'd passed away, completely furnished--and found nearly $25,000 under the bed! Needless to say, it made the news because they did give the money back to the woman's family.

Betty Hechtman said...

It sounds like your ending was perfect. It's always satisfying to get something lost back to its owner.

Linda O. Johnston said...

I agree, Betty. And those guys appeared young enough that the money might have been given to them or saved up for a fun evening that might otherwise have been ruined. Of course that might just be the writer in me using my imagination...!

Kuzlin said...

We found a $20 bill in a store one time and then hovered in the area for quite a while hoping someone would come looking for it. We debated giving it to customer service, but like you felt that the clerk would just keep it. In the end, when no one appeared to be looking for it, we left with the money and put it aside for emergencies. Twenty years later, it's still put aside.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Glad there've been no emergencies requiring the $20 bill, Kuzlin!

Monica Ferris said...

I would probably have given it to the restaurant manager after telling the server about it - so he or she could direct the person who lost it to the manager.

Nice story, Lynn! And Linda, too! I recently read about some people demonlishing a house who found an enormous amount of cash hidden inside a wall. It was given to relatives of the deceased owner of the house.