Easy, Illustrated Instructions on How to Return $100 Cash to its Owner
I find money on the ground. I almost never hear stories about other people finding money on the ground, so maybe I'm doing something unusual. Maybe I tend to stare at the ground while I walk. I hope not, that sounds awful.
Last week, walking into work from the parking lot, I found $101 on the ground. The first thing that caught my eye were the letters "HUNDRED" printed on one bill. It seems nothing brightens my mood faster than seeing a one hundred dollar bill on the ground!
It was two bills folded together on the ground between two cars, a hundred and a one. I picked it up and looked around. The parking lot at Intel is vast, allowing parking for employees in seven distinct buildings. The money had been on the ground between the doors of two adjacent parked cars, about three feet from a main walkway.
There was no one around. This could have been the perfect crime.
But, for my tastes, this was a little too much money to claim outright, so I tried two tactics to get the money back into the hands of it's rightful owner. I also tried two Tic Tacs.
- I left a note at the front security desk. There is almost always a live person at entryways at Intel, and these entryways double as security desks.
- I left a notepad with a message on it, weighed down by a rock. Whoever dropped the money would be likely to return along this path on the way to his car. I went with the catchy phrase, "I found cash here this morning" with my phone number. Chalk would have worked as well, but I didn't have any handy. I took special delight in using this extra low-tech technique outside of one of the great tech companies of our age.
With the note placed, I sat at my desk, re-invigorated for the day ahead. I thought it would be cool if someone did call, and if they didn't, I'd be $100 richer.
The entire day passed and no one called. I walked past the note on my way back to my car at 5 pm. It looked untouched.
Every moment of the day had been extra sweet. It was a great day!
The next morning I got a call while I was in the shower.
Hey Rob, my name is Karen, I saw your note in the parking lot. Yesterday on my way to work somewhere I lost some money, I believe one of them was a hundred dollar bill, all wrinkled up, and I think I had another dollar in my pocket. When I went to the cafe, I didn't have any money. If that's the money you found, it is probably mine. My number is ###-####.
Yes! Damn! That was totally the owner!
I called her back when I got into work and told her the good news. I hadn't spent her money yet!
Karen ended up working in the same building, on the same floor as I. She had been recently repaid $300 by a friend for a scuba diving expedition, and was slowly working through the hundreds.
She had actually seen the note on the ground the previous evening, but hadn't yet realized it was her money that had been lost and found until the next morning. Luckily, the note was still there the next morning.
She offered me half of the money as a reward, but that seemed a bit excessive to me. I said I'd take $20, and she made a counter-offer of $31. Deal.
Best $31 I ever made.
So, if you ever find yourself in possession of a lost wad of someone else's cash, here's the technique I recommend: Leave a note on the ground, weighed down by a rock.
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