brief thoughts on money

lost money poster , 1840 , lib of c

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


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2 responses to “brief thoughts on money

  1. jaciforna

    Not very many, I think, would turn in found money to the police. I lost my engagement ring about three months ago at work. It was my fault for taking it off in the first place. My ring was wet and soapy after washing my hands so I placed in on the counter. I am still heartbroken I wish someone like your student would have found it.

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