Saturday, August 25, 2007

Finders Keepers

In honor of Rachd I have accepted the challenge from Erin at The Corn Was Good to write about a controversial topic.

When I grew up the rules were simpler. The world wasn't, but my view of it was. Life was very easy. If I found something in the alley I would just pick it up and it was mine. I amassed a large collection of crap. I had parts of toys, and used toys, sticks and string, bottles and many other things. My brother and I would pick up each others toys and always holler "Finders Keepers". It was how we justified taking each others things.

"Finders Keepers" made life easy.

A few weeks ago I was picking up a few groceries for dinner with Ady and Jonas. As always, when I saw some money on the floor I had one of the kids pick it up. I have a knack for finding money that's been discarded or dropped. Finders Keepers. Usually it's just pennies, but occasionally I find a forgotten dime or when I'm really lucky a quarter. This day however, I saw green on the floor in the checkout lane. GREEN! I was excited, a whole dollar to put into the vacation fund.

I sent Jonas over to the next lane to pick up the money. It took a minute before he saw it and picked it up. I asked to see it, just to know how much we were adding to our savings. My heart jumped when I saw it was a fifty dollar bill. That's when I had conflict. My Finders Keepers attitude went to war with my wife, not my conscious. I don't really have much of a conscious when it comes to this kind of thing, when I find it, I keep it. But I knew that when I got home I would have a fight with my wife. She would tell me how I shouldn't have taken it. I should have turned it in, that money could have been all the money someone had.

I reasoned with myself and used all of Erin's words in my head to talk to Jonas. We can't keep this money because it could be all the money that someone has to buy groceries, and without it they may not be able to eat for a week. It took all of my concentration to lie like that. All of it's true, but I wanted that money. Finders keepers. I decided to hand the money over and made sure that if it wasn't claimed in a few days I could come in and reclaim it. I had after all found it. I handed the money over to the cashier and watched her walk into the office.

Heartbroken I returned home and still had to listen to Erin lecture me on the money. Giving it back still hadn't been enough, the fact that I told her I thought about keeping it was enough to earn me a lecture.

Three days later I returned to the store first thing in the morning. I had decided that I would be careful to word my inquiry as to "Was $50 turned in from lane 2", rather than "I lost $50" or the more direct "I turned in $50 was it claimed, if not it's mine". The woman working at the service desk didn't even check when I asked. She responded quickly with "Nope, no one turned in $50. If they had, I would know about it". I had to beg her to go double check in the office. Still nothing. Nobody turned in $50. But "you know how people are around here, someone probably just picked it up and put it in their pocket". But they didn't. I know, because I was the somebody. I was the one who could have, should have, picked it up and stuck it into my pocket. That should have been my $50. But no, I was listening to my wife's conscious and I didn't keep it.

I now know not to trust the cashiers at that grocery store. They are not honest. And although I would have kept the money myself, they should not have. If I had been in their position I would not have. There's a difference between finding money and having it turned in to you. When you are in a position where things are turned in to you, you have a responsibility of honesty in business that you have to live up to. I also know that the co-workers of those people think that everyone in this town is a thief.

The next time I find that money on the ground I won't hesitate to pick it up and pocket it. Finders Keepers.