Sunday, February 25, 2018

A Wallet: A short-short story about a dilemma

I don’t mind my job. Actually, I kind of like it. After all, the airport is virtually empty late at night and my job is easy: clean the restaurants' kitchens and bathrooms. Sure, when I started, I almost puked when I had to clean up after men with bad aim, not to mention when removing rat carcasses—Those $2 traps do work. If only those rich passengers knew that behind those frou-frou restaurants, rodents eat for free.

And you get to see all sorts of stuff that rushing passengers leave behind in the bathroom. An airport’s johns get thousands of people sitting on the pot and when they’re done, racing to get out of there, they slam on their pants and sometimes stuff falls out of their pocket. Usually it’s just change but tonight there was a wallet, and it had $900 in it. 

First, I wondered if was a TV show with a hidden camera trying to see how honest people are. Then I thought, nah, they wouldn’t have a TV host hanging out at an airport at 1 AM. My next thought was, “Great! No one could prove it was their money. I could use 900 extra bucks. But then I realized that the owner could call the airport, hoping an honest person would turn it in and then, sleazo-me would disappoint them? Let me look inside the wallet. Maybe it’s a tycoon’s. Hmm, “Tom Michaels, consultant in employee productivity tracking.” Is he one of those guys who has people like me wear FitBits connected to the corporate computer to be sure I’m not goofing off?

I thought about it as I was pushing my cart to my next stop, Bistro Allegria. (I had to pull two rats out of there.) When I was almost there, I saw a fellow cleaner and, on impulse, decided to offer her the cash and then bring the wallet with the credit cards to the lost-and-found. That way, I’d feel less guilty.

I told her where I got the money and she turned it down. “It’s not your money to give.”

I said, "Yeah but we’re cleaning toilets for 17 bucks an hour and I’ll bet he makes 10 times that selling an electronic leash to make sure we’re earning our 17 an hour. Screw him. Keeping the money is just playing a little Robin Hood."

She softened a little: "Well maybe if we used it for a good cause, like donating it to an urban school for after-school tutoring?"

I reminded her that our tax dollars and rich people's donations to charity pay for all that.
She tried, "How about dividing it among all the bathroom cleaners?"

I said, "They’d want to know where the money came from. So we’d have to lie or we'd get in trouble."

She said, "Give it back."

My final shot was, "How about we keep $30 of it as a "finder’s fee" and I use it to take you out for breakfast after our shift?"
She hesitated and then said, "Okay."

The takeaway
If you found the $900, what would you do with it? Would it matter whether it came from a company, a rich individual, a middle-class person, or a low-income one?

I perform this on YouTube.

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