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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Finders, Keepers

Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Finders, Keepers
Current mood: inquisitive
Category: Blogging

There is an age-old quandary: if you find a bunch of money, do you return it to the rightful owner, or do you invoke the time-tested rule of “Finders, Keepers”? I saw an interesting article in the news about a Krispy Kreme donut shop in Fayetteville, North Carolina that lost $5000 by accidentally handing it to a customer in a donut box. I don’t know which is the bigger surprise – that someone (now unemployed) was stupid enough to hand the money to the customer, or that someone in North Carolina actually had five thousand dollars.

Apparently, the manager of the shop had put the cash receipts into the donut box in order to take it to the bank. This, if his logic was correct, would fool any would-be robbers into thinking that he was carrying a box of hot, fresh, tasty glazed nirvana and not a bank bag containing five thousand in cash. If I were the individual in charge of the donut shop in Fayetteville, I would be far more concerned with someone trying to snatch my box of delectable goodies than I would them stealing my cash. With economic times as they are and the fact that you are in North Carolina – well, you do the math – would it be worth risking jail time and a criminal record to steal a bank bag containing what was most likely fifty dollars and a handful of plug-nickels? I think not. In fact, I would take to carrying my fresh, sweet, warm circles of goodness in a bank bag just to dissuade people from trying to mug me for the donuts.

Now, you would think that the counter person, or cashier, or whomever handed the box full of hard-earned samolians to the customer would be able to tell the difference between a box full of money and a box full of the heavenly Krispy Kremes. The smell of the donuts as they exchange hands is no doubt nearly as fulfilling as consuming ten or twenty of the little devils and the warmth of the box containing the just-out-of-the-oven treats would no doubt warm the soul. Any counterman worth his salt would sense the difference in an instant. A box full of filthy lucre versus a box full of the Kreme? No contest. Most could do it blindfolded.

No, I smell a conspiracy. This counterman is not simply a victim of unfortunate circumstance, he is an evil villain. A criminal genius who, along with his loyal minion, have robbed the Krispy Kreme Kompany of over $5000 in the first step in what is most likely his plan to rule the world. A grubstake to start his own donut factory, perhaps? Using a formula for addictive baked heavenly goodness stolen from the vaults of the very Krispy Kreme where the mastermind first hatched his evil plan? Beware, Fayetteville – evil has a name and it is most likely soon to come in the form of a small, unassuming Mom and Pop donut shop that could spring up on a corner – any corner. Maybe your corner.

But this evil plot for world domination is not why I am writing today. When I was working at the legendary El Camino movie theater in Scottsdale as a youth, I was tasked with taking the day’s receipts to the night deposit box at the bank. I had a cohort with me in case of attack and carried the bag to the pull drawer. Upon opening the drawer with the oversized key, I saw that there was another bag in the drawer which had not dropped. Not thinking – OBVIOUSLY not thinking – I put my bag in with the other and dropped both to the safety of the inner workings of the drop box. When I told my co-worker what I had done, he began screaming “FINDERS, KEEPERS! FINDERS, KEEPERS!” and flailing at me as if I were a colony of bats. I fended off his blows as the meaning of his ranting finally came to me: If the money didn’t go down the chute, theoretically it was mine – the finder’s. I began to weep with regret that I had as much as kicked a leprechaun’s pot of gold down the night chute . My question is this: If we find something – say, $5000 in a Krispy Kreme box – do we automatically get to keep it, in accordance with the rule of Finders, Keepers, or is there a moral obligation to return the funds? If this is so, how does it work with the $20 bill found under a tree? Is this lucky finder somehow less obligated to return the money to the “rightful” owner? It doesn’t seem fair to me. If I had indeed removed the bag of cash from the night deposit box at the bank, I would have most likely done jail time. Not before a couple of months of grand living on the lam, of course, and a Bonnie and Clyde-like shoot-out from a Cajun brothel in Louisiana – but jail time nonetheless. I doubt that the defense of “Finders, Keepers” would be legitimate in a court of law. But I guess I will never know.

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