Monday, October 15, 2012

Apples, Pumpkins, and a Character Check!

It seems Sunday was a test of my integrity. 

We've all seen them -- the stories on the news where somebody finds a large chunk of money on the street, in a store, in a cab, etc., and turns it in to authorities instead of keeping it for themselves. While I believe that people are  mostly good, I also believe that for every one of those feel good stories there is the other side, where somebody finds money and just keeps it.

So which one are you?

I've always believed that I would be one of those people who didn't even think twice about it and automatically turned it in. Today, at the Weston Red Barn Farm, I had a chance to test that theory. Unfortunately, I'm not exactly proud of my reaction.

With just a few weeks before Halloween and a trip to Nebraska planned for next weekend, I wanted to take the kids to Weston's Red Barn Farm while we had the chance. The Patriots played at 3:00, so Kevin opted to stay home since we were getting out of the house pretty late in the afternoon.

When we arrived, we paid for our tractor trip to the pumpkin patch and two pony rides, and headed for our adventure. Our first stop was the pony rides where both kids waited with excitement. About every couple of minutes, Brendan would remind me that he wanted to ride the ponies and I had to tell Emily to settle down and stop messing with the rope just as frequently.

After our pony rides, we headed towards the animals and a walk through one of the apple orchards. Of course, I had to make the kids pose for photos, so after the apple orchard we headed towards a bench in front of a large, gnarly looking tree. On the way there, I spotted a $20 on the ground and without thinking, scooped it up.  I held it in my hand as I positioned the kids and snapped their pictures, and then we moved onto the pumpkins all lined up on the ground. I hadn't checked the money to see exactly how much was there, but I slipped it into my pocket and figured that based on the thickness there were at least two bills. Once we walked around a little more and snapped a few more pictures, we headed to the country store to inquire about their apple picking. While Brendan played with miniature tractors and Emily with books, I decided to pull the money out of my pocket to total up the bills.

To my surprise, there was more than just two bills in there and I was a little taken a back. (It wasn't a LARGE amount, but it was larger than I expected. I have decided not to say exactly how much though.) Suddenly I found myself in that position -- found money, what do you do?  Honestly, had it been only $20, I hate to say it, but I probably would have kept it. There have been several times I've lost a $20 bill, or a $10 bill, so maybe it's just the universe paying me back. Plus I figured, just $20 -- nobody is going to come back or go searching the farm for $20. But it was more than $20 and if I were them I would have at least made the effort to see if anyone had turned it in.

Even though I was pretty sure I knew what I was going to do, I am actually ashamed to admit that I did have second thoughts temporary. So much so, that I actually sent text messages to my mom and a friend to see what they suggested.  It was unanimous between the two of them that I should turn it in, so after we finished picking apples from the orchard behind the barn I was going to find someone to turn it in to.

We headed back into the store to pay for our apples, and yes, I turned in the money. I handed it to a lady who was either an owner or a manager, and when I explained that I had found the money, one of the girls cashiers mentioned that another lady had actually just been in a short time before asking if anyone had turned in any cash. Suddenly, the pride I felt in doing the right thing and turning in the money was diminished a little by the knowledge that I may not have done it quick enough. I was a bit shocked that the lady didn't give them her name and number in case it was found, but I had done my part and I felt good about it.

By that time I had gotten tired of hearing Brendan beg to go on the tractor, so we headed down the hill to wait our turn. When it pulled up, I almost had to stop Brendan from cutting the line to get on. Once we got on and began our trip to the pumpkin patch, he was a happy boy.

 There were hundreds of pumpkins in the patch, but the kids didn't seem too interested in picking them.

Since I wasn't too excited about trying to tote them around by myself, I didn't push it, and we ended up boarding the tractor without a pumpkin. The trip on the tractor was more about the tractor itself, which was evident by the cries of my poor baby boy when he learned we weren't going to be able to ride again. In fact, he ended up crying for most of the remaining time at the farm, even as they both picked a small pie pumpkin to take home. As we were standing at the checkout, I saw the woman I had given the money to earlier and asked if she had found the owner yet. She said she had not and that she had been told that it was the money they had taken out of the ATM to buy pumpkins and stuff for the family. One of the other girls at the register heard our conversation and mentioned that a lady had come by earlier looking for the money, but once again, didn't leave any forwarding information. The woman I gave the money to said that if no one claimed it, they would donate it to a church or another organization, but it would be put to good use. Honestly, the Weston Red Barn Farm is such a neat place that I would be perfectly happy with just contributing it to them.

Our final stop was to purchase a huge bag of kettle corn, specially requested by a finally calm little boy who only wanted popcorn for dinner.

So, what would you do if you found a wad of money in a busy location?  I am kind of ashamed to admit that I even thought about it keeping it, but very happy that I made the decision I did. While we definitely could have used it, I wouldn't be a very good example for my children if I had chosen to keep the money. They didn't know anything about it, so it would have been easy to just take and run, but it was now a learning situation and I did mention it to them in the car ride home.

I always thought I wouldn't even hesitate to turn in found money, but I guess I was wrong. I did hesitate.

What would you have done???