It was a quiet Friday night at the grocery store, picking up the essentials for the week ahead, when I spotted it on the floor, peeping out from behind the rack of discounted fruit. A five dollar bill!
As human nature would suggest, I took a look around, as if somehow the link between this five dollar bill and anyone in the store would be immediately obvious. The store was a ghost town. There was almost no one to be found.
I took another look around, this time to see if anyone else saw it. Clearly there was no risk of anyone swooping in to collect it.
Normally, when it comes to picking up a coin off a sidewalk, I wouldn’t think twice or look twice to locate an owner. I would just do it. But this case seemed different. Maybe it was because it was private property. But what hit me the strongest was the fact that it was five dollars, not five cents.
As these thoughts were blazing through my mind and the ensuing analysis of whether to pick it up or not, I’m not sure if the fumes from my recent oven cleaning had anything to do with it, but I could have sworn the five dollar bill said “Psst… Psst… André! Not meant for you!”
I took another look around to see if anyone else heard that, but again, the nearest customers were either squeezing the Charmin or inquiring about whether they stocked Grey Poupon. I looked down again and considered what the five dollar bill was saying.
Could I use an extra five dollars of “found money” in my pocket? Of course I could.
Could I find something fun to do with it? Of course I could.
Could the same five dollars mean more to someone else? I paused. Of course it could.
For someone else, could that five dollars be the difference between junk food and fresh food? Could that five dollars be the difference between going hungry and eating a good meal? Could that five dollars turn someone into a hero in the eyes of their kids, bringing home a special treat they might not normally see?
What if a little kid found it and his or her parents turned it into a lesson in money management and compound interest? The little kid could invest it now and watch it grow. If he or she sees the incentive of being a good saver, when combined with his or her contributions from their birthday money and allowance earnings, he or she could become a financial wizard and a job creating machine throughout their adulthood, benefiting hundreds of adults and their families for generations to come.
I wrestled with my conscience a little more while checking out the position of the five dollar bill. Could it have dropped out of the pocket of the clerk who put the rack here in the first place, a minimum wage store clerk who could probably use the money more than me?
Also, the bill’s perfect folding job almost seemed too deliberate as if it was a very important five dollars with a clearly defined destiny. What if it belonged to a senior on a fixed income, who had a very specific purpose for it? They might miss it. They might call the store and report it lost.
Let’s face it, I am a humble office worker. I am not rolling in dough or independently wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. But in a relative sense, this “found” five dollar bill might make a bigger difference in someone else’s life.
I whispered back to the five dollar bill, “OK! Godspeed to you and I hope that whoever finds you really appreciates the difference you make in their lives.”
The fiver whispered back, “Thanks for understanding Andre. They will appreciate it, trust me! Have a great weekend.”
I responded, “You too, Fiver! Safe journey!”
I left the five dollar bill exactly where it was, hoping that the next person to lay eyes on it will be someone for whom the five dollars will make a meaningful difference in their lives and potentially, the lives of others.
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