$40,000 in a Bag

| September 30, 2013 | 2 Comments

Imagine that you are walking out of a clothing store and you see a discarded bag on the curb. No one is looking so you pick it up to see what is inside. Holy s#*t there are wads and wads of money!!! You zip up the bag and make sure nobody is paying any attention. Around the corner, you find a secluded place to sit and get a better look at the contents.

Cash and lots of it. Traveler’s checks, a passport from China, and a few other personal papers. So this bag definitely belonged to someone and they are probably missing it. What do you do? You could turn the bag in to the police and hope that karma comes your way. You could take out a few thousand, then return it to the police and say, “Oh really? I found it this way.” You could keep all the money and the new backpack – just toss the traveler’s checks because you can’t cash those without suspicion. You could even return the bag to the curb and let someone else deal with it. You have to make a decision – what are you going to do? And if you keep any or all of the money, what would you do with it?

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Think about it.
photo credit: ramsesoriginal via photopin cc

Good. You’ve made up your mind. This story happened very recently although I’ve omitted a detail that the Boston Metro Newspaper did not. I’ll pick up the story here: “About an hour after the homeless good Samaritan turned in the bag, police received a call from security at the Best Buy store in the shopping center. Security said a man informed staff at the store that he had lost a bag with a large amount of cash in it. Officers picked up the man at the shopping center and took him to a police station where he was identified by his passport and reunited with his bag.”

Wait. The man who found the bag was homeless? Did you have any immediate gut reactions that changed the nature of the story? Would you have made a different decision if you were currently homeless? Would you expect something different of a homeless man than you would of yourself or a close friend?

Take my questions seriously. The Metro made sure we all knew that the man who found the bag was a homeless man, as if he was a different type of human. Maybe he was. Maybe he was different because he turned in a bag full of money when he could have kept some for himself.

Don’t let yourself off the hook too easily. I want to know what you would have done AND if you would make the same decision if your life circumstances were different. Comment below and let’s talk about it.

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Category: Boston, featured, Philosophy and Religion

About the Author ()

Evan is a Senior in the College of Arts and Sciences (2014). He is studying biology and anything else he can get his hands on. Evan is interested in urban ecology, environmental education, and food justice. In his spare time, Evan enjoys making music, checking his email, and running. Evan hails from Yorktown, New York.

Comments (2)

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  1. Rhiannon Pabich Rhiannon Pabich says:

    Money would be really super great, so I would definitely pause. But I think that, because there was a passport in the bag, it would feel morally negligible to not try to reunite the rightful owner with the bag. I think it’s very good and important that you picked up on the Metro’s emphasis on the Good Samaritan’s homelessness. I think the Metro’s circulation area could be a major factor in that, but I also think you’re onto something with our “othering” of homelessness.

    • Evan Kuras says:

      Thanks for your thoughts Rhiannon. The passport problem is definitely interesting. Lets say you find $100 dollars in a paper bag with no way to identify whose it was. I bet most folks would keep it all without any qualms. But if that bag had someone’s name on it, I bet most of those folks would turn it in. Yet the bag was equally lost either way. People are funny that way.

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