Found Money

I found an envelope outside a store with three hundred dollars in it. It was on a tourist street in Nashville. People were passing back and forth and I didn’t see who dropped it. I turned the money into the store, not knowing if the store workers would steal it or the owner would come for it, but it made me feel better. Two weeks later the store sent me the cash because no one ever claimed it. I was honest, the store was honest and it ended well for me anyway. At other times I’ve seen people drop money and I’ve stopped them and returned it. It’s just the right thing to do. Even if no one else would do the right thing, at least I know I have.


Back in the mid nineties I subscribed to a popular magazine for runners. One afternoon I read an article about runners who found money on the ground while they ran. It had never happened to me. An hour later I went for a run… and found a five dollar bill.

Never found money while running again.

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During a GI party around in 87 or 88 at our barracks and station I found a twenty dollar bill. Now, I was an E-2 at this time, and it was like finding 100 today. I turned it in to the 1st Sergeant and forgot about it. Next day in formation, he gave it back to me, saying no one had claimed it. I ate like a king for a day or two.

I often find things when I’m out walking but rarely money. Yesterday, however, I scored a five dollar bill, folded all wonky, on the way to Starbuck’s. It could have paid for my tea but I saved it for later.

$50 bill on the street just after they redesigned them. I walked past it at first thinking it didn’t look real, but went back. Yup, new bill. Residential neighborhood, I kind of stood there and looked around the homes with the bill hanging from my fingers, no one rushed out to get it, so mine!

When I was a kid, I found a dollar at a fast food joint. My mother made me turn it in to the manager. She said someone poor might have been there as a treat, someone who couldn’t afford to lose a dollar.

A few years ago, I found a $10 bill at the gym. Remembering Mom, I asked everyone I could find if they’d lost a tenner. You’d think someone would have said yes just to get the money, but not a single person did. Finally a guy said, “Anyone who can afford a gym membership can afford to lose $10. Count it as a gift from the universe.” So I did. Thanks, universe!

I’m gonna go in the other direction. Back in the holiday season of '95 (or so; the memory is a little hazy), things were kinda tight chez -99. Our bestest friends at the time (later to become Kayla’s godparents) presented us with $200, with an open-ended expected payback date (it turned out to be the following April, IIRC). The following day, we went shopping at the mall, and had a visit with another friend who worked the perfume counter at Robinson’s-May.

As we were leaving, I apparently dropped the envelope with the cash while trying to wrangle kaylasmom, her guide dog, and myself onto the escalator. When we got home, there was a message on our answering machine that our $200 had been found, and since the perfume counter lady knew how to reach us, they were able to track us down and return it.

I call that story “The Stranger in the Department Store Saves Christmas.”

A friend of mine and I were going to see “Amadeus.” I found a $20 bill in the parking lot. It paid for the movie and the pizza and Cokes afterwards, and I still had some change left over. (Shows you how long ago this was!)

I once found a baggie filled with quarters while leaving the laundromat. It was during a time of extreme poverty in my life, and paid for clean clothes for a month.

I’ve found random cash many times. Never a large amount.

Riding my bike as a child I found $20 blowing down the road. And exiting a car in a parking lot I found a few ones right by the car then when my Mom opened her door she found a few more.

Most recent find of more than coins was right after a pro basketball game. We exited the stadium on the wrong side and had to walk all the was around to get to our car. We found a $20 and several ones loose on the street. A woman walking the other direction saw us and grabbed a few to help us, thinking all the cash was ours and was surprised when we told her to keep it as we hadn’t dropped it either.

On Mr VOW’s last tour of Germany (he’s retired US Army), we were in that really really tight period before I could find a job. Military spouses know what I’m talking about!

It was before we were able to get quarters, so we lived in a German apartment “on the economy.” That meant all rent and expenses had to be paid in German Deutschemarks. There are two places you can buy a quantity of marks with a US check, drawn on a Stateside bank: the American Express bank on post, or Army finance. Both places are an unholy madhouse on payday, with everybody in the Universe trying to get money to pay bills, eat, go out, etc, etc.

Mr VOW chose Finance, which was located on the third floor, with an enormous staircase packed with peoplepeoplepeople. Now he had his check and a note on how to divide up the money. By the time he got to the head of the line, he was exhausted and the people behind the counter were completely frazzled. He handed the clerk the check, stated his wishes of how many US dollars, and how many US dollars’ worth of Deutschemarks. (the exchange rate for marks changed daily) He grabbed his monies and got the Hell out of there.

At home, he just handed me all the wadded up money. I separated everything, and counted it. And then I started to cry.

He had about double the amount of marks than what he paid for. I was crying because we needed the money so BAD, but it clearly wasn’t ours. He put his arms around me, and said he knew, and he’d be making another trip to Finance the next day.

And he did. He talked to the supervisor, who used the calculator to figure out the amount in dollars at the previous day’s exchange rate. And he said that was almost exactly the shortage the frazzled clerk had. He brought Mr VOW to a back office where the clerk had been banished, and told her this guy had taken the time to return his overpayment. She got up from behind her desk and wrung his hand in thanks, while shedding more than a few tears.

She would have had to pay the money back out of her own pocket.

This was in the Summer of 1987. I was visiting Cecil in Chicago. He and I had just seen The Cure and were headed back downtown. We had stopped for a couple 40’s when I see a black leather satchel sitting against a brick wall in the alley next to the convenience store. Cecil says, “wouldn’t that be hilarious if it was full of money!” I open the satchel, and it wasn’t full of money…only half full! The other half was full of what appeared to be dime baggies of coke. I’m guessing that there was about $20k in the bottom of the bag. We dumped the coke out into the alley, and Cecil grabbed the bag and started walking towards the L. I run up behind and ask him where the hell he’s headed with my money. It’s one of the few times that I saw Cecil not be his usual jovial self. He says that we should split up, reaches into the bag and hands me a huge stack of cash, which turned out to be about $7 grand. I didn’t see him until about 1990. He’s never mentioned the incident since then either.

This is real: I once found a closed umbrella on a bus and took it home. When I opened it a month later, a wad of bills and a baggie filled with white powder fell out. I kept the cash and flushed the powder at City Hall ladies room.

Ah yes, the unmistakable hallmark of a championship caliber Truth Teller!!!

Cecil, huh? You are the only person here who actually knows what he looks like?

Cecil and I go way back…just a sample of our interactions that you can find on the boards here:

Ahhhh, but do you pronounce it “Sisal”?

Only when I’m high.

I’ve actually been known to take a dollar bill, register it in Where’s George, then origami it - and leave it in a public place. Was there anything written on the bill?

No. I’ve known about Where’s George for years and enter the bills I find. I even used to register some myself. Had a stamp made up, even.

No, the bill I found looked as if it had been loosely crumpled and then flattened. Nothing origami-like to it.