June 21st 2016
Today I walked into work (waiter, restaurant) and my manager handed me two ten pound notes. “This is for you,” he said. And then he explained.
A few days ago a customer left his wallet on the table after he’d paid and gone home. I found it as I went back over to the table to clear up. I looked to see if he was still hanging around outside, but he’d gone. So I went into the office and gave it to my boss, who left it in the safe.
We checked the wallet, there was a driving license, a couple of debit cards, an aged and battered picture of a young woman, ten pound cash, but no phone number or contact details (apart from the address on the drivers license). We assumed he’d come back when he figured out the place where he’d last used his card. And he did.
Apparently he came in this morning and asked if he’d left his wallet here on Saturday. So my boss went and got it out of the safe for him. My boss told me that he was like ridiculously thankful, and he said how he didn’t expect anyone to have handed it in, and as a reward for our good deed he gave my boss twenty quid.
When I got to work and he told me this story, and held the two tenners out to me, I said “Really?” and he said “He wanted you to have it for handing it in.” I thought it was crazy, and if I had’ve been there when the man offered the reward I would’ve told him not to be daft, but because the reward had been left, I took one of the tenners and let my boss have the other.
I don’t really think that handing in a wallet that someone left behind is a particularly valiant act that is worthy of reward. It’s something that any decent human being would do, surely? Am I wrong? There was ten pound in the wallet, the important and valuable things to the customer were his ID and bank cards. Okay, it costs like 25 quid to get a new drivers license, but it’s worthless to me, and if the bank card was contactless (I didn’t check) I could’ve gone on a spending spree on items that were £30 or less. But why would I do that? Why would anybody?
What I found amazing too, was that the reward he gave was more than there was in the wallet in the first place. It’s not like there was a wad of twenty’s in there, there was one crumbled tenner. Maybe the important thing was the bank cards, or the license. Actually, thinking about it it was probably the photograph that he would’ve missed most. If a man carries a photo of a woman in his wallet, then that lady is probably very important. It looked like it could’ve been an old photo of his mum when she was younger, or something. So maybe that’s why he left the reward.
Either way, the reward was unnecessary. If I’d wanted financial gain from finding a wallet I would’ve just kept the cash, sold the ID for £40 (that’s actually a thing that people do) and used the contactless card to cop a Costa Coffee.
I’m not a hero, or a saint for handing it in. I’d like to think it’s just a human reaction, but maybe not. One time on a night out I found £40 on the floor underneath a cash machine/ATM. There was no one around to claim it, I waited around for 5 minutes and no one came back, so I put it in my wallet and went to buy a round of drinks for my friends – share the love/luck, and that.
Again, I think that makes me human. But maybe that act is a rarity, and most people would have just pocketed it and ran.
Until tomorrow, I’d like to think not.