You’re walking down the street and you see a person drop a $50 dollar bill on the ground. What do you do? Notify the person? Watch as they walk away and then scoop up the cash?
OK, now you’re entering a business and you see a $50 dollar bill by a bush. What do you do? Report the money to the business manager? Pocket the money?
Both scenarios have recently been present for two of my friends. In the first case, my friend pocketed the money rather than notifying the stranger. This bothered me as I am certain I would have done the opposite. In the second case, my friend reported the money to the business manager. Again, I would have made a new home for the money in pocket of my favorite overpriced jeans.
Is this a test of human decency? A reflection of our greed? Does karma play a factor?
I consider the friend who pocketed the stranger’s cash to be decent and trustworthy. The same rings true for the friend who reported the money. I know I would’ve walked away with heavy shoulders and a cloud of guilt if I had taken the stranger’s money. I would have manifested how the person would have missed the money. Did they have children? Can they barely pay for groceries? Was that fifty dollar bill supposed to last them for a week? On the other hand, this feeling would be absent if I were to take the stray money by the bush. Is it due to the lack of visual in not seeing the money fall to the ground…from a real person?
Typically, we remember the money we find versus the money we earn. I recall finding a twenty on the ground in the Memphis mall when I was a child. I promptly picked up the money and immediately purchased a cassette tape (yes, a cassette tape.) It was as though the money was burning a literal hole in my pocket. We also tend to remember the money lost. I once lost a significant amount of cash in a bar years ago. To this day, I wonder how it was spent, though I suspect it was spent right away on shots and Red Bull and vodka’s (Grey Goose versus the cheap stuff  ‘cause you know, it’s “free” money.)
I’d be interested in the population’s response to the above scenarios.