Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers?

Readers' Digest conducted a global cell phone honesty test a few years ago, dropping 30 cell phones in 32 cities around the world to see how many would be returned. Overall, 68% of the cell phones were returned which indicates there are more honest than dishonest people in the world. The city of Toronto, Ontario came second with 28 out of 30 phones returned, with Bucharest, Romania and Amsterdam, Holland coming in last with 16 out of 30 phones returned.

As children we sometimes squabbled over possessions and would chant, "Finder's keepers, losers weepers," if we found something that belonged to another person. We counted it a lucky day if we found a penny, nickel or quarter on the street. Over the years we have found cell phones, cameras and wallets and have tried our best to return them. I have a digital camera found on a trail last August but have had no success it reuniting it with its owner. I know from the pictures that it belongs to someone from Europe who was visiting Canada.

A few years ago I was given $20 in excess change when I purchased bus tickets for our daughters. Once home, I realized the error but it was not an easy decision to return the money. It wasn't my mistake! But I did drive back across town to show the clerk the bill. She was stunned and in tears when I gave her the money as she would have had to account for the error at the end of the day.

Are most people really honest? The news is full of stories about thieves, fraud artists and swindlers. Last evening I dropped into the grocery store at dusk after playing the piano at a local retirement home. I went through the self check out, packed two large black canvas bags with groceries and took them out to the car.

This morning I could not find my purse, which is really a wallet on a strap. I looked everywhere in the house and car and felt sicker by the minute when I thought about the credit cards, drivers' licence and bank cards in the purse. I called the grocery store, not expecting any miracles.

Yes!, someone had turned in a purse that fit the description of mine exactly. I rushed over to the store and everything, everything!, was intact including the cash I had. The morning staff had no idea who turned it in or where it was found. But more than one honest person had handled it. Was it one of the young men who collected the carts at the end of the night, or perhaps another customer? I may never know.

Whoever you are, thank you very much!! You made my day and reaffirmed my belief that the majority of people around me are honest and thoughtful folk.

Have you had a similar experience that ended up as a good news story? Do tell!

There are some excellent stories in the comments. Thanks for sharing!


  1. You are SO lucky, and it is a warm feeling to know that the folks that work there are good and honest people. I just saw a story on the news about a New Zealand couple who had mistakenly been given 6 million dollars by their bank, and they RAN. Yikes!

  2. Anonymous7:13 pm GMT-4

    I remember when I first moved to the USA and on my first day on my first job here (graveyard shift cashier at Walmart in Indianapolis) I was so tired by 5am and I gave a customer change for a $100 when she had given me a $20. (Major oops.) I didn't realize the error until an hour later when I was counting out my till and was over $80 off!

    As I sat there panicking a lady came up to me and she said that she had been my customer earlier and when she got home and was going over her receipt she noticed that I gave drastically wrong change. She said she had once been a cashier and knew how miserable so felt when she was even a couple dollars off. So she drive back across town to give it back so I wouldn't get in trouble.

    Angel is disguise I swear. I would have lost my job if not for her.

  3. Love to hear these stories. I was actually on the other end...we were taking a short boat trip, we pulled into a park launch ramp to walk our dog. A man had left his wallet laying on top of the box where you drop your ramp fee. No cell service, so we copied the emergency number. There was one truck in the parking lot. My husband looked in the tool box..luckly the mans name was on the tools and it matched the wallet. We couldnt lock the box so he buried it in the bottom. We were able to reach his son a day later,and told him where his Dad could find his wallet, but he couldn't reach them for 2 days. They were surprised the cash was there as well as credit cards. When she called to thank us, she said someone told her to cancel the cards..she said ..anyone who would make sure we got everything back..isnt going to steal card numbers..It's amazing how good it feels to do the right thing.


  4. About a month ago, my husband realized that he couldn't find our debit card, which he had used that morning at the ATM machine. He figured out that he must have set it in his lap, then drove out to the mall where he got out for a haircut. Amazingly, someone found it on the ground in the parking lot and turned it in to the customer service office. It's nice to know there are good and honest people out there!

  5. This is a wonderful, feel-good and inspiring story that makes me smile. I can imagine your relief when everything was returned to you. Life IS good.

  6. Glad for you that someone returned your purse!Both hubby and I have had this happen several time that people gave us back too much money. It becomes very easy when you think "what if I was on the other side - wouldn't I want people to be big hearted instead of taking advantage of their mistake?"

  7. In my many years in working in retail I know exactly what it is like to give the wrong change. It's sickening, especially when it has to be paid back out of your own pocket. Most people were honest.

    I actually had an issue today at work. I was doing invoicing and one of my vendors invoices was incorrect. It was about $1000 less then what I was expecting. I called the vendor to look at the work they did for us and to double check their invoice. Yes they had invoiced me incorrectly and she thanked me for being honest. It's not my money to keep. The girl explained that she was having a bad day and that aliens were coming at night and sucking out her brain cells. I told her not to worry about them...that the angels were right behind them putting them back. She laugh and thanked me for making her grin and giggle on a miserable day. Honesty is always the best policy...it gets you so much further in life.

  8. It's the close calls that I find difficult. Here's examples: I receive $5 more in change than I should. No question--I return it right away.
    OR I get home and suddenly realize that I had a small item I didn't pay for. Do I drive back? That's a tough one.
    Big mistakes--no questions. Little mistakes--harder to decide.

  9. I'm glad someone found your purse and you got it back Ruth. I have no stories to add, but enjoyed reading what the other commenters had written.

  10. A highway worker found my wallet with over $700. cash. RCMP returned it to me and I called highway dept. to get name and reward the fellow. The supervisor wouldn't give it, said it was the guy's duty.This was in the days before debit cards and I was traveling.

  11. When I was about 21 I had been out in the city until 2 am or so having fun with friends.-I dropped a wallet with $300 in it.I figured there was no chance of getting it back.-I was contacted by some people not much older than me-the entire contents with money was returned.
    About 3 years ago-I found a wallet with a dozen credit cards wrapped up with $500 in cash and a checkbook.-It took some work to get it back.-I contacted his bank and left my number so he could contact me.-He couldn't believe I was giving his stuff back without accepting some kind of a reward.-

  12. What great stories! So glad you were lucky enough to be the recipient of someone's honesty and kindness Ruth.

  13. Anonymous6:58 am GMT-4

    I found some of the tests to be almost overwhelming for some people but still interesting to most.

    My Birds Blog

  14. That was refreshing reading.Too often all we hear about is the negative,but there really are alot of good people around.Thanks for highlighting a few of them,you included.

  15. Just recently, I was also over-changed and was silly enough to point it out. ;)

  16. Ruth,

    I'm so glad that an honest person found your purse and returned it to you intact. Replacing all of those items would have been a nightmare.

    When I drove taxi, I used to carry a cosmetic bag for the collected money. One day I laid it on the roof of my car and drove away. There was over $300 in it. When I realized it, I went looking for it to no avail. When I got home, I called the police. Within two hours they called me back. A man had picked up my money bag...a former taxi driver...and every cent was still in it. We have been blessed.

    Have a great week.

  17. Some years ago Andrea was going to Myrtle Beach w/U.Mel. At one "pit stop" she left her wallet/purse on the back of the toilet. Thankfully I'd insisted she give most of her travel money to U.Mel. A week or so after her return from M.B. a parcel arrived at our house. It was her wallet, completely intact. A pastor's wife was the next to enter the stall. Obviously a woman full of integrity.
    Last summer I too had the opportunity to take a handbag into a supermarket. It had been left in the shopping buggy in a parking lot in Arizona.
    It's a good feeling to do the right thing.

  18. All these great stories! I am glad you got your purse back Ruth. I too have turned in purses that have been left in odd places (one on the floor of a conference room, just beside an empty chair). And I have had my own wallet returned once (I only had 5 dollars in it, but was happy to get my driver's licence, etc. back).

    Now here is a bit of a weird story. I was shopping in Lowblaws, in the plant department. I left my basket with purse in it, a little way from the plants, so I could navagate through the plants more easily. I could still see it. And was not worried that someone would take it. However, once finished perusing the daffodils, tulips and other flowers, I pushed my basket and continued shopping.

    A few minutes later, I heard my name being called over the PA speaker, asking me to return to the plant department. Just at that time, I realized I had picked up the WRONG shopping cart!! Another woman must have realized my mistake and looked in my purse for my name, so I could be alerted. Was my face red!!!

  19. You were honest, that is why you got your wallet with the strap back.

    The buzz word here in New Zealand is the runaway millionaire. A bank wrongly gave an overdraft of $10 millions overdraft insteal of $10,000.

    The man ran away with eventually 3.8 million. I see that Tutta la Storia also commented on this.


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