"No," he said.
"Suppose a few hundreds stuck to your windshield? When you cleared the glass would you take the money?"
"Let's imagine $20 from the truck flies in your window landing on the seat next to you. No one saw it. You're car's on empty, and so is your wallet, your cupboards are bare, the fridge is empty, you're out of dog food and your pup is hungry. Would you keep the $20?"
"Because the money doesn't belong to me," he said.
My husband is better than me. I probably would have kept the $20, pumped a few gallons and shared a burger with my dog.
Recently I received a check in the mail that was double the amount owed to me. For an instant I considered depositing it. But I thought otherwise. Not because I'm a decent person like my husband and not because I knew they'd eventually figure out their mistake and I'd have to pay it back. Age and experience has taught me the importance of seriously considering the ethical consequences, (which once permeated my 20s like patchouli and pot-smoke), of the behavioral and belief system based on Karma. I truly believe ill-gotten and unearned gains eventually become a windfall clouded by negativity.
About a month ago in Rochester, N.H., a woman returned over $2,500 which had been handed to her in a Burger King bag. She discovered the money on her way home from the restaurant. Though she considered keeping the money, it was religious ethics, (she's a Jehovah's Witness), which swayed her to return the restaurant deposit.
Taxi drivers in Las Vegas have returned, numerous times, hundreds of thousands of dollars left in their vehicles by winners. One driver in Newark, N.J. turned in a Stradivarius violin. His reward, a concert for 100 fellow drivers by the musician who misplaced the instrument which was worth $4 million.
In New York City, a young medical student/taxi driver drove 50 miles out onto Long Island to return over $21,000 in cash, and jewelry worth thousands more, to an elderly woman from Italy who left her handbag in his cab. The driver, from Bangladesh, did not accept a reward because he said his mother was his inspiration. She taught him to be honest and work hard.
In New Paltz, N.Y., three roommates bought a couch for $20 at a thrift center. It didn't take long for the kids to discover that the lumpy couch contained bubble wrapped bundles of cash, $40,000 in all. It was an old woman's entire life savings, stashed in the couch by her husband. Because the woman often slept on the couch her children donated it and bought her a new bed. Though the college students, and recent graduate, certainly could have used the money, their thinking mirrored my husband's almost exactly, "… it's their money, we didn't earn it."
So I asked myself, would I have kept any of that found-money even if I knew, no one would know? Actually I would not. I'd give it all back, and not because of religious beliefs or parental teachings, I'd return it because someone else's loss is too high a price to pay for my prosperity. But, would I accept a reward? Hell yes. I'd fill my tank and feed my dog steak. Enough said.