One of the more common philosophies on life that I have heard is “Treat others the way you would like to be treated.” There are a number of iterations of that, the most well known could well be “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” A more recent variation is “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. They are all basically suggesting that we should set the example of how we would like to see the world.
The other evening, we were out walking Ray when we saw a wallet on the sidewalk. We picked it up and opened it to see if there was any owner identification inside … and there was, together with a significant amount of money. A quick search on Google and we had a likely address about 5 minutes walk away!
The address turned out to be a multiple units building and, upon finding the wallet owner’s name on the occupants listing next to the units call buttons, we buzzed the owner. She confirmed her name and, when requested to meet us in the reception area, she agreed … and we waited.
Not too surprisingly, she seemed rather serious as she approached the glass doors into the reception area where we were. She was a young lady, in her late teens, and I had to wonder what was on her mind as she saw two total strangers and a large dog waiting for her!
She opened the door and, without actually coming through the door opening, she looked at us. I introduced all of us (including Ray) and simply said “We have found something that is yours.”
She gasped a very excited “You have my wallet? It’s silver with a character painted on it.” I asked her whether she knew how much money was inside it. Her reply was perfect, so I handed it over to her. She asked where we had found it and then, after an exuberant “Thank you so much”, she turned around and went back to a waiting elevator. She stepped inside; the doors closed, and we turned around to head back home … when we heard it!
From within the elevator, there were uncontrolled screams of delight. We both smiled at the thought of her probably dancing around in the elevator celebrating the return of her various i.d. cards, public transport passes, credit card, and a lot of money! She had every reason to celebrate, and celebrate she certainly appeared to be doing based on what we heard.
In retrospect, we could have simply kept the money and thrown the wallet away or, if we felt a little more honest, we could have simply taken it to our local Police Division. In both those scenarios, we would not have experienced the sound of ecstatic delight as she celebrated being reunited with her wallet. I think that I will remember that sound coming from behind those elevator doors for a very long time. I certainly hope so.
We were honest, and went out of our way for a few minutes. The reward for doing so was priceless.
We are not expecting to see her again, so she will never know how much pleasure she gave us. Who knows, perhaps one day she will be in a similar situation and will remember our honesty. She will remember those two elderly people and that big dog who returned her wallet, with all the original contents, to her. Who knows, perhaps one day she might just do the same for somebody else. Just thinking.