Last week while walking in a parking lot I found a five-dollar bill on the ground.
The feeling that came over me was similar to when I get a really cool and thoughtful birthday present that I never would have thought to ask for.
Did I consider trying to find the rightful owner? You bet I did.
I made sure I did a complete 360 degree scan of the parking lot looking for people who may have dropped it, and while I did see two other folks walking to their cars I determined that they didn’t look like people irresponsible enough to have carelessly dropped five-bucks. Besides doesn’t Federal and State law say, and I’m paraphrasing here, finders keepers losers weepers?
That’s what I thought.
Finding loose money on the ground is kind of like winning the lottery, although the payoff is a lot smaller. Perhaps I should say it’s more like winning a lotto scratcher.
Anyway, that was the second time in my life I ever found something other than a loose coin waiting to be picked up.
The other time was when I was walking to school sometime in the mid-70s and I found a ten-dollar bill. I could barely contain myself when that happened. Accounting for inflation that would be like finding over $40 today. To an eight-year-old kid, forty bucks is like winning the lottery and I’m not talking scratchers either. I’m talkin’ Power Ball, baby!
The Ethics of Found Money
Obviously, there comes a point where the amount of money found becomes so large that it makes sense to actually turn the money in to the authorities. The question is where do we draw the line?
To me the answers are totally dependent on the circumstances.
I’m sure a lot of you would disagree with my assertion that a single loose bill as large as $100 aimlessly blowing in the street is a personal, er, windfall.
Before you think I am total heartless ass for making such a claim, let me also say that I do believe that a wad of cash or multiple bills tied up with, say, a rubber band or money clip is not a windfall and as such I would turn it in.
I would also turn in a single $100 bill laying on the floor of any business establishment or, for example, a taxi. In that case I could easily see the owner, after recognizing he recently lost his money, quickly determining exactly where he lost it.
If the money is in a wallet, purse or any other container with identification, then I think that money should also be turned in regardless of whether it held $10 or $10,000.
What Do You Say, Readers?
I’m curious to know what is the most amount of money YOU have ever found just laying there on the ground?
Do you think it’s unethical to keep a loose hundred-dollar bill if you found it at the corner of Main and Elm street and decide not to turn it in to the authorities? If so, would you also turn in a loose one-dollar bill to the authorities as well?
When it comes to the ethics of found money, where do you draw the line?