5/19/11

Moral Dilemma: Found Money

Various Federal Reserve Notes, c.1995. Only th...Image via WikipediaNormally I am of the philosophy that found money is something I want more of. If I'm walking down the street and find a quarter/a dollar/ten dollars!/twenty dollars!! That's a good day. Yet today when I found ten bucks at school I felt nothing but dirty. Here's what happened:

I stepped out of my class so my students could fill out their student evaluations. I moseyed down the hall as I am wont to do at times like this and--wham--there was a five dollar bill at my feet. I looked around. On each side of the hall there was one or two students hanging around, waiting for the next class to start, but in the near vicinity of the money there was no one. There was really no way anyone could possbly know who that money belonged to. So, feeling a little cheap because I am after all supposed to a PROFESSIONAL, I grabbed that money and stuffed it in my pocket and gave a silent, "WOO HOO!"

Almost instantly, I felt bad. My students are working class kids. They work so hard to be at school and here I was woo-hooing at their expense. Fleetingly, I thought: "I should just drop this money. Yes, I should drop it on my way to my car. I should let someone else experience the joy of a found money moment. But then the greedy part of me said, "Keep the money. You deserve this money because you lost your cell phone on Tuesday and that is karma's way of evening the score."

So I went into my class, and I even told me class what happened. I even pulled the money out of my pocket to show them. Only then did I realize there were two fives folded together. It was TEN dollars. You could tell by the looks on their faces that they really believed they deserved to find that money. I told them about my cell phone, but that did not seem to convince them. One students said, "You should give the money to me." But then a few more said, "You should just the money. It's not like you can find who it belonged to." Still, I felt bad, so I said, "I think I'm just going to drop this money on the way to my car--don't follow me."

For a few minutes, I really believed I would drop the money. Then I thought, I'll drop ONE of the fives. But who was I kidding? That money is right here on my desk staring up at me.

You go through life thinking you are a certain kind of person, and then something like this happens and you know that, really, you are a different kind of person, a worse person.

So what do you think? What would you do?

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22 comments:

Rois said...

A wise old Asian man once told me that when you find money,it means someone from a past life owed it to you and they were finally getting around to paying you back.
By some chocolates,maybe really good ones,then you will feel better about the money.

Tony Van Helsing said...

No moral dilemma here. If you see some one drop it then fair enough, give it back to them, otherwise it's yours. No point worrying if some working class kid dropped it. If you suffer conscience pangs stick it in a charity box.

claire said...

I certainly can feel for you. It's nice to come across ten bucks, while feeling terrible for the person who lost them.
I hope you find a great way to use them :-)

Shell Sherree said...

I remember reading a book on abundance and it suggested we should pick up money we spot lying on the ground, even if it's just 5 cents, otherwise we are saying to the Universe we feel like we already have enough and not to give us any more, thanks. {Not a great idea.} Tony's sentiments sound practical and wise to me. I think the Universe was looking after you, Margaret.

Star said...

Ten bucks, you'll never find the owner, and, since it's bothering you, and will always bother you, and whatever you buy with it, you'll only feel that nagging bother when you see it...give it to the Red Cross (or to your own favorite charity), in the name of someone you love, but who is On The Other Side of the Great Divide.

Deb @ Paper Turtle said...

Dear Margaret, I like how you think. :o) A few years ago I found $45 (!!!) in my work parking lot. I instantly felt bad for the person who had lost it, so I folded it up and stuck it in the side pocket of my wallet. I kept it there for a few weeks, thinking that surely someone would come around in our plaza asking if anyone had found $45. I finally did spend it - probably on groceries or something practical...I don't remember - but it was difficult to feel good about my fortune when it was the result of someone else's misfortune.

I'm with Rois - buy chocolate. Or better yet, buy chocolate that you can share with your class! ♥

Laurie said...

Oh, wonderful Margaret. I always look at found money like that as a reason to pay it forward. Charity donation box at the store? Homeless guy?

I so love the way you write, my friend. I have needed to catch up on your blog. You always make me nod my head and smile.

Cafe Pasadena said...

Did you say the $10 was made up of two $5's? And WHERE did you say you found this again??

Lemme down some coffee & I may get back to you on this. In the meantime, keep that dough in a safe place. Thank You, MF!!!

Daisy said...

Treat your class to something special ... chocolate? Or donate to your favourite charity. Or just stop feeling guilty and use it for what you need.

Someone also dropped a word in the story! "But then a few more said, "You should just the money. It's not like you can find who it belonged to."

Joanne said...

Just look at it this way ... The goddesses were smiling down at you and brought this into your life. I agree with the others, you'll never find the owner, so accept the good fortune that came into your life one random day, without worry.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Funny stuff here! I would of picked it up and stopped at "WOO HOO." Probably because I'm morally bankrupt. Your human, I'm nature.

Olga said...

Having those moments of guilt clearly show you are a good and moral person. Now go out and spend that 10 bucks on something fun--or at least useful, like two gallons of gas. Would you feel bad if it had been a dollar? Think of $10 as the new $1.

Margaret said...

Much thanks for your advice. I ended up giving the money to my daughter, who needed it for something at school. But I like the idea of treating my students. donuts, maybe? I'll keep you apprised.

Jess said...

I was gonna say you should donate it to a cause you believe in- but giving it to your kids is as good as donating.

Petrea Burchard said...

I'm so relieved you didn't give it to charity. I was afraid you'd get raptured tomorrow and I would really, really miss you.

You are a good person, Margaret.

I like what Shell said. That makes sense. Accept abundance.

Bec said...

Interesting dilemma. My dad is the king of found money - it's crazy how often it happens to him and I've seen him look around for who it might belong to and try to do the right thing but he's never felt bad about whether or not he deserves it. The donut idea is a good one :)

... daisy... said...

Margaret if such an action would make a person "worse" or "bad" the world would be hopeless... I think you had the right to keep that money if you don't know whom it belongs to... Or... you could invite your class to a charity box action... on your desk... or a found raising for an afternoon together and an icecream! :-D

Italo said...

Margaret, if you found ten dollars it means that you have to find them! The destiny doesn't do wrong things.

altadenahiker said...

I'd keep the $10. But I wonder at which dollar amount I'd no longer feel that was morally correct.

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Ah, I wouldn't have stressed over this. If you knew who it belonged to, that's one thing. Found money with no owner = good luck in my book!

Susan Campisi said...

I'm too ashamed to tell you how much money I once found - and kept. You're a good person, Margaret. I'm in PA's camp - morally bankrupt.

Margaret said...

Final report: I brought my students donuts yesterday. The donuts cost $15. I found $10. There are two ways to looks at this: One, I am down $5 (no good deed goes unpunished). Two, I got 24 donuts for only $5. It felt good.