One afternoon a couple of weeks ago, I had just finished my shift at the shelter and was walking to my car when I spotted what I am hesitant to call a “wad of cash”. It was a few bills folded into a neat pile. I picked up the stack of bills and looked around. With no apparent owner in sight, I proceeded to the nearest place of business, a print shop. I walked in and placed the money on the counter, explaining someone had dropped it outside and requesting they return it to the rightful owner if he or she were to come looking for it.
I left the store in route to my car. A few moments later I heard the voice of a male employee of the print shop. He asked me to provide my name and phone number so that the owner of the money could reward me if he or she wished. I expected no reward, but returned to the shop to provide my name and phone number. The woman behind the counter explained that the money would be mine if no one claimed it within three days.
About a week later I stopped in to see if anyone had claimed the money. To my surprise, no one had. What’s more, or so I’m told, is no employee decided he or she would like to take the money for him or herself. According to Immanuel Kant, in order to act in a morally correct way, you should “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” I did not take the money for myself and neither did the employees of the print shop.
Friends and family tell me it was naive to hand this money over. But maybe a bit of naivety is what we need. I acted out of love, as did the employees of the print shop. The money wasn’t mine to spend. But it bought me peace of mind. As insignificant as 74 dollars may seem to some of us, it would seem like a lot for others. It gives me hope and works against a commonly lingering feeling of isolation to know my brothers and sisters at that print shop chose love over fear, at least in this case.