Many happy returns
Though there is enough bad news in the media to foster the stereotype that only the bad news is covered at the expense of good news, the stereotype is just that—a stereotype. Not only is good news out there, it is reported. Consider these many happy returns as examples:
•Two Norwegian teenagers recently were praised for having returned 467,200 kroner ($81,500) to an elderly man who had accidentally left the cash on a train.
The man left the money in a bag on a seat in a train traveling between Oslo and a small town in the southeast portion of Norway. One teen said that when he opened the bag he saw “wads and wads of bills.” Examining the bag some more, the teens discovered a passport belonging a man in his 70s. Arrangements were made for the man to pick up his bag of cash at the local police station.
The news account had no word on whether the two teenagers received a reward, but I hope they did.
•A Walmart employee received the company’s nation 2013 “Integrity in Action Award” for returning an envelope with $20,000 inside it.
The employee, Bismark Mensah, who immigrated from Ghana in 2012 and works for $9.19 an hour at the Walmart in Federal Way, WA, helped a couple load their purchases into their car and, after they started to drive away, he spotted the envelope in the cart the couple had used. It was an envelope with an address window and he could see it contained money. Mensah sprinted after the couple to catch them before they drove off.
The couple, Leona Wisdom and Gary Elton, said the money was going to be used for a down payment on a house. The grateful woman offered Mensah a reward but he declined to accept it. The woman said she called Walmart twice to be sure management was aware of Mensah’s honesty.
•Bus and cab drivers also return large sums of money left in their vehicles.
A few months ago an Austrian bus driver discovered a bag left behind by a passenger. The bag contained 390,000 euros (nearly $510,000). Resisting temptation, the driver turned the money into the local police. It turned out that the bag of cash belonged to an elderly woman who had recently withdrawn her life savings.
Last year, cab driver Adam Woldemarim in Las Vegas found a laptop case stuffed with $221,510. He turned it in to his company’s security office. The owner returned to the cab office and rewarded Woldemarim with a $2,000 tip.
Last November in Singapore a cab driver found a bag with more than $900,000. He returned it and the grateful owners gave him an “undisclosed cash reward.”
•A couple of months ago a cleaning woman at the Thunder Valley Casino near Sacramento, CA, appeared to have hit the jackpot when she found $10,000 in cash in the women’s restroom.
Instead of cleaning up financially by quietly taking the money, Meuy Saelee turned in the stack of Benjamins to her supervisor. When the money was given to its rightful owner, Saelee received a $500 thank you.
•In Bristol, PA, some hand-me-down clothes resulted in handing back $30,000 found in a canvas bag.
Carol Sutor of Bristol received some clothes when a relative’s mother-in-law died. While going through the clothes, she discovered a canvas bag on a hangar. To her surprise, the bag contained other smaller plastic bags, each containing stacks of one-hundred dollar bills totaling $30,000. She returned the money to her relative in New Jersey, who assumed that the money had been stashed away for safe keeping during Superstorm Sandy and never taken to the bank. In appreciation for returning the money, Sutor was given a $1,000 thank you.
•Not all happy returns are money. At least one earlier this year was a big diamond engagement ring.
In Kansas City, Sarah Darling decided to drop some change in a cup belonging to a homeless man, Billy Ray Harris. She dumped the spare change from her coin purse into the cup and continued on her way, not remembering that earlier she had removed her rings because they were bothering her and dropped them into her coin purse. When Harris saw the ring, he knew it was an expensive one. He took it to a jewelry store and was offered $4,000 for it. Instead of selling it, Harris decided to hold the ring to see if anyone came back for it.
Darling returned the next day and told Harris that she might have given him something very valuable. He asked if it was a ring. When she said yes, he said, “Well, I have it.” He gave it to her and soon after Darling and her husband, Bill, set up a fund for Harris hoping to raise the $4,000 he had been offered by the jeweler. But the fund resulted in far more that the desired $4,000.
It soon reached $186,000 with more than 8,000 donors, and through it Harris has been reunited with family he hadn’t seen in 16 years. Also, the Today show surprised Harris by having him on the show and bringing his siblings to the show.
No doubt, there are many more stories of happy returns out there. But this sample is enough to remind us that, although lots of folks do bad things and get lots of attention in the news, many good deeds are being done. It’s nice to stop now and then to remind ourselves of this.