When I was first teaching , one of my fourth graders found a bag on money on the street . Ninety dollars . So , being a good kid , he brought it down to the local police department and handed it over to them . Maybe they could return the money to the owner .
The cops told the boy that they would try , and if after ninety days no one claimed the money , then it would be his . Finders keepers , losers weepers at that point . The boy reported all of this to me . I congratulated him on his honesty . He was a poor kid , a very poor kid . And he did the right thing . And , who knows , in ninety days the money could be his . Ninety days to the little guy must have seemed like eternity , unimaginable , a vague impossibility of a target time to claim the cash .
And , so , life went along smoothly for about eighty days . I suppose the boy never considered the possibility that the money’s owner wouldn’t be found . Maybe , if he were sophisticated enough , and suspicious enough , he may have figured that , at any rate , ninety dollars would somehow inevitably be swallowed up in the system one way or another . Things happen . Fortunes like that don’t just wait around to be claimed by little boys .
But he waited patiently week after week . He walked over to the station from time to time to check on the money . He would calmly tell me every once in awhile : the money has not yet been claimed .
And then came the final days . He now was checking every day with the cops . He told me every day : no one claimed it today . He got progressively more worried day by day . Someone would claim it today . The cops told him not to worry . The last week was murder on the kid . The poor little guy was visibly shaking on the final three or four days . I tried to counsel him , calm his fears . No one was coming in to claim the money at this point . But he wasn’t so sure . He sweated out the last few days , worried , despairing . Owning the ninety bucks had now become a real possibility . But losing it now that it had become such a possibility had become cause for panic .
And day ninety finally came and the cops turned over the bag of money to the boy . They congratulated him on his honesty .
I wish that I remembered what he did with the money . I’m sure that , at the time , I’d asked him . Did he buy a new bike ? Did he buy a baseball mitt ? Did he squander it on candy and sodas ? Did he put it in the bank ? Did he spread it around among his friends , or did he hand it over to his mother to help pay the rent ? Funny , I don’t remember that part .
I have all the money I’ll ever need , as long as I die by 4 o’clock .————- Henny Youngman
Money is a horrid thing to follow , but a charming thing to meet . ——— Ralph Waldo Emerson