Michael Murray
What Would You Do if You Found a Bill

Every lifeless monetary note has a story.

Photo by Vladimir Solomyani on Unsplash

My dad lost a $100 bill on New Year’s Day.

He told me he’d been carrying it around for a few days. My dad works as a driver, transporting people to and from the airport. He deals a lot with cash. He had been meaning to stop by the bank to deposit it but hadn’t made it there yet.

On New Year’s Day, he went into a supermarket to buy a lottery ticket. Somewhere during the exchange, he believes he dropped the $100 bill. (The irony of losing $100 while purchasing a lottery ticket was not lost on him. And unfortunately, the ticket did not win him any money. That’d be an interesting twist if it did!)

After realizing what happened, my dad went back to the store and spoke to the manager. No one had turned it in. They checked the security camera, but due to the angle, no extra information could be gathered.

“Well, somebody’s New Year’s is off to a great start,” my dad quipped.

Every Lifeless Bill Has A Story

I’m sure we have all come across small amounts of money on the ground: nickels, quarters, a dollar. Maybe even a 5 or 10 dollar bill.

It’s interesting. Every single one of those lifeless monetary coins and notes has a story. I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to consider that until now.

Moments before we walk by and spot the money, a story unfolds, like a play. We arrive just as the curtain closes, but the props and the set remain.

As we look down at the lonely bill, the memory of what recently transpired looms over us. Something significant happened in the very place we are standing. A human being, with a story, just dropped something of value without even knowing. What will we do?

What Does The Law Say?

Most cities have some kind of law on the books that require you to turn in found money (of any amount) to the police. If nobody claims the money within a set number of days (usually 30), the police can relinquish it to you.

I wonder how many people turn in found money.

I have a feeling it depends on the amount of money in question.

For example, a $5 bill will probably be pocketed without much guilt. You wouldn’t think for too long about the details surrounding it.

But if you found a duffle bag with stacks and stacks of Benjamins in it, I bet you’d be dialing 911 pretty quickly. This money has sketchy origins!

But what about a single $100 bill? That falls into that slippery category of, “It’s enough money to want to keep, and yet be haunted by the unknown circumstances surrounding it.”

So, What Would I Do If I Found $100?

Would I justify taking it by making up stories about the person who lost it?

“Well, obviously, this person is irresponsible. This will teach him to be more careful.”

“If this guy is dropping hundreds, he must be rich! He won’t miss it.”

“Finders Keepers!”

Would I go the pragmatic route?

“If I don’t take it, someone else will just take it.”

Or, would I walk by it, not wanting to get involved? Leave that dilemma to someone else!

What would you do?

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