When The Intrinsic Reward of Doing The Right Thing Is Tarnished By Money

by admin on August 29, 2016

Are rewards mandatory for returning a lost wallet or purse to its owner?

About 2 days ago I went grocery shopping. For some reason, this trip required a lot more food than usual, and as a result, I didn’t notice I dropped my wallet when loading up my car. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized it was missing.

I quickly drove back to the store (5 minutes, max), searched the parking lot, went inside the store to see if anyone turned it in, but my wallet was long gone. Disappointed, I went home and promptly froze all of my bank account cards.

This morning, just as I was about to head out to get a replacement driver’s license, a man and his young daughter appeared on my doorstep. He politely explained that they had found my wallet and wanted to return it to me. I was beyond ecstatic when he handed it to me; I honestly thought I’d burst into tears of relief. I shook his hand while thanking him over and over again. I really was grateful.

When I finally let go of his hand, he frowned at me and asked, “Is that it?” Confused, I said, “What do you mean?” He scoffed and continued to frown. “Don’t I get a reward for giving you back your wallet?”

I haven’t carried cash on me for several years now and we don’t have any in the house. So even if I wanted to give him a reward, I couldn’t. So I apologized and told him I didn’t have any money on me.

He scoffed again. “Ungrateful,” he muttered, grabbing his daughter’s hand and pulling her back towards their car.

Was I wrong? Should I have offered something else besides money? I was raised to believe that you do acts of kindness without expecting anything in return. Has that changed?   0825-16

There are several problems with the man and daughter who returned the writer’s wallet.  First, if found in a public store or its parking lot, he should have turned it into the store management who would have held it in their safe until claimed by its rightful owner.  Second, his expectation of financial reward reveals the condition of his heart and that his act of “kindness” was done not for the benefit of the wallet’s owner but for himself.   That’s not kindness, it’s just another way to earn a few bucks.   Third, his response upon hearing there was no financial payback for his choice to return the wallet shows how little he values bringing joy to someone else.   Fourth, he has no clue what gratitude is if he thinks a handshake and repeated expressions of thanks must be paired a twenty dollar bill.

So, no, story writer, you were fine in your expressions of gratitude and appreciation. No money needed to exchange hands as proof of that gratitude.

{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

LeeLee88 August 29, 2016 at 3:53 am

Cynical me is thinking that since he couldn’t get his reward by using the frozen cards, he thought he could get a little something by squeezing OP for cash. For the record, his behavior is not normal, in my personal experience of finding and giving back wallets.

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Just4Kicks August 29, 2016 at 5:00 am

I’m very happy you got your wallet back, but…I’d keep a close eye on your bank and credit card accounts.
This “good Samaritan” could’ve copied down all your numbers and info.
I don’t want to scare you, but my husband and I were victims of identity theft the week before Christmas this past year, and sadly, I don’t trust anyone anymore.
Someone hacked into our phone account and rang up more than a thousand at an Apple store in a neighboring state.
We had to drive more than two hours each way to file a police report in the town the crime was committed in, and while the officer who took our report was wonderful, the detective who was assigned the case did NOTHING.
He refused to go to the Apple store and pull the security footage, no reason as to why other than “that’s not how it works”.
Our cell phone company was also very unhelpful, despite many phone calls.
We still don’t have everything sorted out almost a year later, frustrating doesn’t begin to cover it.
Good luck to you!

On a happier note, my husband once put his wallet on top of the gumball machine outside the supermarket to get change to get out daughter a treat and left it there.
When he went back to the store, a kid who had been bringing the carts back in saw the wallet and turned it in.
My husband asked to speak to the boy, and shook his hand, thanked him and tried to give him twenty dollars.
This wonderful young man refused the money, laughing and saying his parents would kick his butt if they found out he made a profit on a good deed.
There are still some good folks out there! 🙂

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Amanda H. August 30, 2016 at 9:54 am

Well, luckily for the OP, most card providers won’t un-freeze cards once they’re frozen as being lost or stolen. Hubby and I learned that when we were visiting his parents several states away and discovered an item on our credit card statement that we hadn’t spent. We called it in, and the card company immediately froze our credit card so whoever had the number couldn’t make more, larger purchases and issued us a new card.

Sorry to hear about the fiasco you went through, and I hope it works out soon. If “that’s not how it works,” I wonder how the detective thinks it *does* work?

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NostalgicGal August 30, 2016 at 1:07 pm

I recently had someone get a CC number of mine and try to charge $400 to a Russian dating site, about three times. The CC froze it immediately as the area was not one I had warned them I was travelling to (I warn them if I head out of state beforehand, yet alone out of country). They did this about thirty minutes before a regular authorized payment came in; and that continued to cascade. In the end the thieves didn’t get a penny. (though they went through ITunes and several other things, they really tried a spree. We think the dating site was theirs, and they were trying to cash the card and couldn’t, so they tried a flurry of other things, and by that time they were shut down. First warning from CC was like 5 minutes in.) I still have my credit reports locked down and had to go through and redo ALL my online accounts. A less aggressive card would have meant I could have been out thousands and still mopping up…. an identity theft takes like 16 months to clean up.

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Just4Kicks August 30, 2016 at 2:50 pm

@AmandaH: Our question EXACTLY!!!
He even had phone records of when the theif was in the store exactly….day/time to the minute.
We know that because someone called my husband in the midst of a very busy afternoon at his office, the number came up “ATT”, he answered it and was asked some questions.
After the phone call, my husband became a little suspicious and called me at home in Pennsylvania.
I jump on the phone with the fraud dept, my husband at his office is ALSO on with the fraud department.
The woman speaking with my husband says they don’t call folks, let me pull up your account.
“Okay, sir….Oh! I see your wife is racking up quite a bill at the Apple store in New Jersey!!! Ha ha!!”
NO! She’s not!!! She is at home right now on the phone with YOUR FRAUD PEOPLE!!!
My husband said, “send the police there right now!”
“OH…..I’m sorry….that’s not how it’s done…..”
So….It’s not like the police would have to search through days of store security tapes.
We still remain gobsmamked that no one would do anything.
We should’ve gone to the Philly News station, as one of our friends suggested.

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Mags August 29, 2016 at 5:19 am

No, he shouldn’t have gotten a reward. Seems likes he found your wallet and then, instead of handing it to the store where you would have gotten it back promptly when you returned looking for it, he decided to try to make a little profit off of you. Holding onto that wallet for a day until he had the opportunity to try to shake you down cost you a lot a time and trouble (freezing cards). Who would honestly think to themselves “Hmm, a complete stranger to me has lost her wallet. I’d like to get it back to her. She probably shops here. Instead of turning the wallet in to the store’s lost and found or at least notifying them that I found a wallet, I’m going to take it home with me for a day so that there is no possible way that she can find it until I feel like tracking her down.” Doesn’t make sense.

Decades ago when I was a student, I had a similar thing happen. When the person called, they said that they had seen me leave my wallet behind on the bus. I was grateful to get my wallet back, of course, but I remember at the time I wondered why they didn’t SAY SOMETHING if they saw me leave it behind (“Excuse me? Your wallet!). I guess after all these years, I finally have the answer. And BTW, it didn’t cross my mind to give that person a reward either, not that I could have afforded one.

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EchoGirl August 31, 2016 at 4:41 pm

Could be that, could be they couldn’t get your attention in time before you got off. I once saw a woman leave her purse on the bus and tried to call after her, but she was off and walking down the block (getting off the bus wasn’t an option for me, it was half an hour until the next one and I needed to get to work). I turned the purse over (unopened) to the bus driver to put it into the lost and found; it was the best solution available.

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YersiniaP August 29, 2016 at 5:23 am

By Austrian law (and in Germany as well I believe), the finder of lost or forgotten property actually has the right to claim a reward of the owner, 10% of the value for lost property, 5% for forgotten. Explicitly exempt from this law are employees of a business where the item is found (eg hotel workers, servers, cashiers when items are found on premises) or if the finder lives in the same building the item is found in.
So theoretically, if I watch someone lose their wallet on the street, I pick it up and run after them, I have the right to 10% of the cash in that wallet (As long as it’s not over 2,000 €, in which case the percentage is halved).
As far as I know you can even go to court over this, if the item in question is worth more than 10 € and the owner refuses to pay the reward.

That said, I always found this to be quite tacky.

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TaterTot August 29, 2016 at 4:17 pm

I don’t like that approach at all. At least for the OP (and possibly others), he/she doesn’t carry any cash. Then what? Do the finders just get $0.00, or can they then claim a percentage value of the credit cards in the wallet? And if the lost property is (for example) a pair of designer sunglasses, who gets to determine its overall value, especially since the owner may not have paid full price for those sunglasses (thrift score or even received as a gift)?

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YersiniaP August 30, 2016 at 11:27 am

Well, this isn’t a new law, it is from a time when people still used their wallet to carry their cash.

And I don’t know who determines the value, I just know that these laws exist and, theoretically, can be enforced in court.

However, like Airelenaren below, nobody I know would actually do this. Or even remember that the owner owes them.
When I found a new smartphone in the parking lot of a grocery store last year, I went back inside and asked the cashier if she’d rather I dropped it off at the police station or leave it with her.
We both agreed that it would probably be more convenient for the owner, when they retrace their steps, if it was at the store, and so we positioned ourselves in front of a security camera and I handed it over to her. That was it for me.
It only occurred to me much later that it would have been my right to leave my name and contact info and ask the owner of the phone to get back to me about my 10% reward.

I don’t know, but I could imagine these laws were originally meant to prompt people to do the right thing but make sure they are recompensed for their trouble (of finding the owner etc.)?

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Airelenaren August 29, 2016 at 6:26 pm

Yup, I’m also familiar with this law. It should be said, though, that most people I know (or have read of) would never dream of enforcing it. If it were me, and somebody brought me back a valuable item I lost, I would offer them a small reward just out of grattitude (and also to cover the potential cost if they had to take public transport or come by car to reach me), but I wouldn’t blame someone for not doing the same. Money is tight for many these days, and there may be other reasons why they can’t reward you (like in op’s case).
That said, if I would find a valuable item, I would be more inclined to give it to the police or a lost-and-found, rather than deliver it myself.

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Goldie August 30, 2016 at 10:39 am

Even if we wanted to abide by that law, there was no cash in the wallet. 5% of zero is zero.

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Maria August 31, 2016 at 12:09 pm

It just occurred to me that I haven’t a clue where this incident occurred. I keep assuming the US on here, as I live here, and completely disregarded the rest of the world. My comment applies only in the US. I don’t know the etiquette of a similar incident elsewhere, though, as always, I appreciate the education.

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dandj August 29, 2016 at 5:46 am

OP you did nothing wrong. The guy was ungrateful. The more suspicious side of me wonders if he only returned your wallet because you had no cash in it and canceled you cards before he could use them. I mean why else wouldn’t he have tuned the wallet into the store or police. I mean those methods are for the finder’s protection against accusations of theft as much as for the person who lost a purse or wallet to regain their property.

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Kirsten August 29, 2016 at 6:49 am

What a grasping man. Why would anyone accept a reward for returning a wallet, let alone ask for one?

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Mustard August 29, 2016 at 6:57 am

I agree with admin on this, but I do wonder what message his young daughter took from this. I also don’t understand why the wallet wasn’t handed in in the store; that would be one of the first places the owner would look if his intention was solely to return it. He probably realised that you would freeze your accounts, so the absence of cash may have prompted the return. I wouldn’t be happy with a stranger turning up on my doorstep either, having rootled through my purse to find my address.

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Ashley August 29, 2016 at 7:06 am

If you find a wallet, returning it to the rightful owner is the expected result. Doing the bare minimum of something that is expected of you shouldn’t need to be rewarded! Sure, it’s nice when you get something extra for returning it. It’s super cliche, but doing something nice ‘just because’ is in fact its own reward. What a poor example this man is setting for his daughter. I really hope that she doesn’t grow up to follow in his footsteps.

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Lacey August 30, 2016 at 9:54 am

Sort of reminds me of men who think they’re entitled to women because “I’m a nice guy!”

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Cleosia August 29, 2016 at 7:31 am

It’s also possible it was pilfered from the OP in the expectation that they would get a reward when they returned it. People have been know to kidnap pets so they can “find” and return them once a reward is posted.

I guess I’m just very cynical at this point.

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LizaJane August 29, 2016 at 8:31 pm

Then so am I.

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lnelson1218 August 29, 2016 at 7:39 am

Years ago I found a wallet on the sidewalk. Both myself and the owner of the wallet were from different states. Honestly it took a few a bit of thinking how to get the guy’s wallet back to him. Fortunately he was a AAA member. I called AAA and had them call him to let him know that his wallet.
We did meet, fortunately he was actually located in the same area/town I was. Getting a reward didn’t even occur to me. But don’t get me wrong, I did appreciate the 20 he gave.

Now, if AAA hadn’t been able to help, I would have used that same twenty to mail his wallet back to the address that was on his license.

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Just4Kicks August 29, 2016 at 6:23 pm

I was telling my kid’s about this story, we try to do little good deeds every day (I call it putting change in the good karma piggy bank), and my daughter said while she and her dad went to the beach one morning on vacation she found a wallet.
She said she looked inside and there was $7.00 and photos of Justin Bruner and One Direction.
When they had collected enough shells, she took into the office of the hotel we were at, and gave it to the clerk.
Although she was probably more interested in the One Direction pics than the cash, she did the right thing! 🙂

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Huh August 29, 2016 at 8:15 am

If you expect money in return for giving something back, then it is a ransom/blackmail/etc.

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Pame August 29, 2016 at 8:21 am

I agree that a reward is not mandatory. But his action of taking the wallet with him instead of turning it into the store demonstrated he was wanting to make some money and not do the right thing. We’ve encountered this same behavior twice.

One time when our dog got out of the back yard. DD and the kids were immediately out in the neighborhood searching and came across a man who was playing with the dog in the school playground. DH said “oh he’s our, thanks for grabbing him”. As he was putting the leash on to walk him back home the man became billigerant that DH wasn’t offering a reward. Beyond the fact that DH didn’t have any money on him because he’d been doing yard wok when the dog got out, the man wasn’t making any effort to return the dog.

The other time was an almost exact replica of your story. I’d dropped my purse in a grocery store parking lot. Realized as soon as I got home and went back to the store to inquire and search the lot. No purse. That night (10 hours later) I get a call from a woman who said her husband had found my purse earlier in the day and they’d be happy to bring it by. I said I didn’t want to trouble them and that DH could come pick it up or we could meet somewhere convenient to them. DH said he was sure the guy would be expecting a “reward”. Sure enough as soon as DH met them at a fast food parking lot, the guy asked how much DH was going to pay him for returning the purse. DH’s reponse was “let me see how much cash is still in there and I’ll tell you.” Then DH’s US Marshall friend friend stepped out of the car. I think he ended up giving them a $20 just to be done with it, but it was obvious that making money was he’s intent.

I will also say that I’ve had my purse returned to me annonously other times. One time I lost my purse in the Atlanta Airport. I arrived via fedex to me the next day with a note saying someone had urned it in. Another time my billfold fell out of my stroller (or was taken, not really sure) at the zoo. We got it from lost and found. The money was gone but everything else was intact.

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JosieJames1019 August 29, 2016 at 8:24 am

I think it’s actually creepy that he looked in your wallet for your address and drove out to your home to return it. Anyone with half a brain would return it to the store and let them handle it.

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GoTwins August 29, 2016 at 4:18 pm

I ran into a grocery store a couple years ago for 2 items, so I was only in there about 5 minutes.
When I got back to may car there was a wallet on the ground that wasn’t there when I went in. I opened it, looked at the license, put the address in my GPS & drove it right over to them. They were still unloading groceries from their car and were very appreciative that I brought it to them. I have no idea if there was any cash in the wallet nor did I expect any.
I didn’t feel creepy.

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Michelle August 30, 2016 at 9:18 am

You immediately returned it and didn’t ask for a reward, so to me, that wasn’t creepy. But the guy in the story kept it overnight and then showed up with the wallet and wanted a reward. I would have been a bit creeped out by that, too.

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Amanda H. August 30, 2016 at 10:33 am

I don’t find it creepy for the most part. It’s similar to looking for a contact in a found cell phone to let the owner know that it was located and where they can pick it up.

Getting a wallet back and finding the personal items out of order or outright missing, though? Creepy. As is waiting a *whole day* like the guy in OP’s story before making the attempt to return, when it would have been faster and easier to take it right into the store.

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UKHelen August 29, 2016 at 8:30 am

I find it unpleasant that he had your wallet for a couple of days before returning it. And his attitude makes me wonder what he would’ve done if he’d known there would be no reward.

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Skaramouche August 29, 2016 at 8:31 am

Trying not to be uncharitable but given man’s reaction, I can help but wonder what would have happened if there had been cash in the wallet. Would it still have made its way back to its owner? Or having gotten his “reward” in advance would the man dump the wallet either where he found it or with store management?

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stacey August 29, 2016 at 8:37 am

It’s SO frustrating when you lose a wallet! And I agree with Admin, it should have been turned in at the store. Shock at having it returned unexpectedly to your home might have rendered you speechless, but it would have been gracious to say “and of couse I will send $20” (or whatever you felt was appropriate), “just leave your address”. It isn’t required, but is custmary. His remarking on the matter was indeed rude and off-putting.

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Thel August 29, 2016 at 12:50 pm

I would not say that it is customary, and if I was offered money for returning a wallet, I would not accept it. I would feel that, as Admin eloquently put it in the title, “the intrinsic reward of doing the right thing is tarnished by money”. Actually, I would feel more inclined to accept a non-monetary reward, such as homemade biscuits, but only if the person had them already.

I would *never* leave my address to receive a thank-you. They have already thanked me in person and really, this is all I would expect.

At any rate, I believe the best approach is take the lost wallet to a police station where they can take care of returning it to the owner safely and efficiently.

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Kate August 29, 2016 at 1:33 pm

But it isn’t customary. Who expects to be financially rewarded for basic human decency? Does that mean the next time a little old lady needs a hand on the subway I can charge her for it?

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Wild Irish Rose August 29, 2016 at 8:45 am

That poor child.

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Vicky August 29, 2016 at 8:45 am

LW, You did nothing wrong. Whatever happened to doing a good deed just for the sake of doing a good deed.

I was in a similar position but on the other side. I found a wallet at a grocery store parking lot a few towns over from where I lived. I looked inside at the driver’s license and called information to get the home phone number (that is where I was going to start; to be honest, I did not trust the grocery store to actually go the step of calling the customer). Anyway, ended up speaking with her husband, told him I had the wallet and was going to be there for another 20 minutes or so while I shopped. He called his wife and gave her my cell. Got a call from her, she met me in one of the aisle and thanked me profusely and gave me a hug. It was not the first time I turned in a wallet. I have never expected anything nor would I. I just know that I would want someone to do the same for me.

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Coralreef August 29, 2016 at 8:52 am

How much did he expect to get? And if he had known there would be no rewards, would he have chucked the wallet into the trash rather than give it to the store? Not a good example for his child.

I’ve often returned purses and wallets to their owners. I never expected to have a cash reward, never got one either, the owner’s relief was enough for me. I’ve even ran after a woman who forgot some cash at the ATM, I knew it was her because I was waiting to use it next.

I think of it as “stocking up on good karma”, because I was the one who forgot $100 at the ATM once (my babies distracted me) and someone returned it at the bank. I only had to show my printed receipt to get it back.

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Jewel August 29, 2016 at 8:58 am

The saddest part of this story is the lesson that man taught his daughter. Just as abuse can be generational, so is the fostering of decision making based on the attitude of “what’s in it for me?”. I feel badly for that little girl.

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NostalgicGal August 29, 2016 at 9:09 am

Where I live now, if you drop your billfold it might beat you back home. It’s just the way things are. And if there’s money in it it will come back with the money in it.

I can totally understand if OP doesn’t normally carry cash, and it was somewhat over the top for the person to think there would be a (serious probably) cash reward for bringing it back.

The right thing for the finder to do would have been to turn it into lost and found at the store of the lot it was found at. I find fault with the deliverer, but, they did decide to personally return it. (so they could get some reward for it most likely). At least they left.

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Liz August 29, 2016 at 9:15 am

Unfortunately we live in the age of entitlement. Many people seem to think they should be rewarded for either doing something nice, or expected of them. This is just one example. If I found someone’s wallet and for whatever reason, took it to their home vs. turning it in where I found it, I’d just be happy I was able to get it back to them, and wouldn’t expect a thing in return, except a thank you.

A CW of mine is retiring, and moving. Her daughter lives in their condo in the state they are moving to, “going to school” if you can call it that, while sucking the bank of mom and dad dry. Mostly mom since my CW cannot say no or put her foot down. It’s amazing the amount of money they have wasted and spent on this child, who keeps asking for more every day it seems.

CW is not thrilled about having to drive her car 12 hours alone to the new state, so she asked daughter if she could fly up (and she’d pay for the ticket) and help drive back. Totally at daughter’s convenience, and I heard her on the phone, because I guess daughter wanted CW to pay her for doing this! Never mind they pretty much fully support her to begin with. I was amazed but not surprised.

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LadyV August 30, 2016 at 11:29 am

I truly hope they give her a deadline to get her lazy butt out of the condo, once they move in. It’s one thing to help your child every once in awhile (I’ve done it myself), quite another for the child to expect you to support her full-time.

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Haushinka August 29, 2016 at 9:22 am

Here in Sweden you have the right to 10% of the cash value of a lost item that you return in a “finders fee”. What that translates to for an empty wallet full of cancelled cards, I have no idea. I certainly would not have expected anything in return.

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Yellow Rose August 29, 2016 at 9:40 am

Just when faith in my fellow man is restored, it’s dashed again! Hopefully this man’s daughter will be able to rise above this, and no doubt other lessons of her father and discover decency for decency’s sake.

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JB August 29, 2016 at 9:41 am

And fifth, what an awful lesson to model for his daughter!

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Mojo August 29, 2016 at 9:45 am

HECK no, and he’s teaching his daughter the wrong lesson. She’s going to be sorely disappointed in life.

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clownface August 29, 2016 at 10:24 am

I’m baffled as to how the finder of the wallet thought it was appropriate to show up at a stranger’s home with his young child. What if the owner of the wallet wasn’t the nice letter writer, but someone not-so-nice? Not smart to put his child (and himself) in potential harm’s way while attempting to extort a reward.

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PWH August 29, 2016 at 10:25 am

OP, Admin is right, a reward is not required nor should it be expected. I find it incredibly said that the man who returned your wallet only did so under the presumption of some kind of monetary reward. Also, this is something that he is passing on to his daughter who was unfortunately there to witness everything. I’ve been on both ends of very similar situations – I’ve lost and found personal items – keys, wallets, etc. All I can think of when I find something belonging to someone else is “what would you want someone to do if the shoe was on the other foot?”

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Lolkay August 29, 2016 at 10:41 am

Reminds me of when my old dachshund kept escaping new house. One time a few women brought her back and demanded payment, and when dad couldn’t give her back they said next time they’d just keep her.

True to their word…the next time she escaped….we never saw her again.

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Sarah August 29, 2016 at 2:46 pm

How sad!

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Dee August 29, 2016 at 6:14 pm

On the other side, I have seen a few instances where pets were permanently “lost” to their owners that probably had nothing to do with them being actually lost. There are only so many times a neighbourhood is willing to put up with the same dog running around, “escaped” from its yard yet again, before someone does something about it. I suspect that is the end result of at least some of the “lost” posters I’ve seen. Can’t say I’m sad about not having those dogs making a nuisance of themselves around here anymore.

My aunt gifted us with a kitten when I was a kid, that she had found “lost” through neglect. When the owner asked around later my aunt kept quiet because she felt it had a much better home with us. Given the circumstances we did agree with her.

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Michelle August 30, 2016 at 9:28 am

You really think it’s ok to basically steal someone’s pet because it escaped from it’s yard? Wow.

If the pet is escaping and being a nuisance, it’s more appropriate to call the animal control authorities and let them deal with it.

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Mags August 31, 2016 at 11:06 am

Um, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are stealing the pet. At least around here, it means the animal was shot, generally because it has been harassing livestock.

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Lolkay August 30, 2016 at 9:47 am

Dee, yes I agree that happens.

But my cute loveable Onyx (pure black dachshund) was missed and loved. She was just mischevious.

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Dee August 30, 2016 at 11:40 am

Lolkay – I can’t imagine losing a pet like that when you are a kid. Not knowing what happened to them or wondering if you were somehow being punished by their loss. We didn’t feel bad about the kitten, though, as the owners were so very careless and neglectful. But I do see both sides.

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Goldie August 30, 2016 at 11:45 am

Before someone does what exactly about it? Could you elaborate?

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Dee August 31, 2016 at 11:37 am

Goldie – I’m assuming you’re referring to my post? I don’t know what happens to nuisance animals that are “lost”; I’m assuming they are “gifted” to a new home but I suspect at least some of them are put down. They are simply “lost” and the neighbourhood is relieved and speculates that it’s not a coincidence, likely because one or more people know what happened but nobody (except maybe the owner) is asking any questions.

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TaterTot August 29, 2016 at 10:59 am

Not only did this man remove the wallet from the area in which it was lost by not turning it in to the store, he also rummaged through the wallet to find OP’s address (presumably from the driver’s license) and then went to that address to confront the OP with the wallet. Beyond the fact that he was a jerk by expecting a reward, his actions are rather creepy.

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Cat August 29, 2016 at 11:14 am

He seems to have wanted a reward for not being a thief. He believes that gratitude is only acceptable if it is in cash.
I wonder if this person decided that he was too likely to be caught if he tried using your credit cards as cameras are everywhere these days. Since your wallet contained no cash he could take, he decided to be “honest” and to see if you would come up with money for him.
I would be grateful that he is not a relative and will not be showing up on my doorstep at Thanksgiving.

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Amanda H. August 30, 2016 at 11:51 am

I think that’s the problem I have with people’s mention of places with laws about granting a 5% or 10% reward for returning lost items. It feels less like a reward for honesty and more like an incentive to not be a thief. Like they have such a problem with people not returning the lost items that they have to mandate a monetary reward.

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Bernadette August 29, 2016 at 11:30 am

Wow, this is just so disappointing to read. This guy had a perfect opportunity to teach his daughter a lesson in kindness and honesty – but OP was ‘ungrateful’ because she didn’t pay him for his kindness??
He absolutely should have turned the wallet into the store (and not doing so left you hanging overnight wondering who had your address in their possession), but he kept it with the expectation that he’d be getting a reward. What a jerk. I guess you should be ‘grateful’ that he didn’t steal your credit cards and/or identity, right? Which he probably regretted after walking away empty handed.
PS: A good dad would have turned down any offered reward to teach his child that being honest does not have a price tag attached, and that sharing in your happiness at getting your property back was reward enough!

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Amanda H. August 30, 2016 at 11:57 am

This “gentleman” has too narrow a definition of gratitude if profuse thanks is “ungrateful.”

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PM August 29, 2016 at 11:48 am

No, if you don’t have cash, you don’t have it. And if you’re not inclined to offer it, that’s ok. Rewarding someone for doing the right thing is not mandatory. And he was wrong to expect it and then mock you for not offering it.

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kingsrings August 29, 2016 at 12:10 pm

Agree with admin completely. This guy was an entitled jackass who sadly was simply doing this for the money and not at all out of wanting to help this woman. He is ethically entitled to nothing more than a thank you. If the owner wanted to reward him that is entirely her decision and it’s not a requirement. And what if the owner didn’t have the funds to give him a reward? And given his indignation, it would also concern me that he showed up on her doorstep. If I was the owner I’d be afraid he might show up again.
A few years ago I found someone’s wallet sitting in the middle of a very busy, crowded sidewalk in my town’s historic district. It was huge and very stuffed. I didn’t really know what to do, so I took it to the visitor’s info center and gave it to the employee there. I hope that was correct.

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Kirsten August 29, 2016 at 12:51 pm

In the past couple of years, I’ve found a driver’s licence, a security pass and two £10 notes. I live right next to a police station so it was no bother to hand them in there. I did have some discussion with my friends about what’s the minimum sum of money you would feel obliged to hand in rather than keep, and my £10 was probably the lowest. Here (UK), if you leave your details with the police, if nobody claims the lost item you can keep it after 3 months. I did feel a bit of a fool turning up after 3 months to claim a tenner, but better in my pocket than the police’s petty cash!

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Dee August 29, 2016 at 12:29 pm

If he had known ahead of time that you would not be offering a reward would he have returned the wallet? Would he have stood there, at the door with wallet in hand, and bartered for an exchange only? That’s extortion, and quite illegal. His attitude overall suggests he is not generous but opportunistic. That you did not provide him with the opportunity to make money off of your misfortune is not your problem. And, as you did not carry cash in your wallet and had already frozen your bank cards (and thus I’m assuming had already ordered new ones) he didn’t give you your money back, or save you from the usual headache of sorting out what you thought was already lost. It’s fantastic to have the wallet back in its entirety but you didn’t gain by it, so why should he?

In my city the local paper publishes letters of gratitude from people who feel that, in their shock, they may not have been as effusive in their thanks to the person who returned their lost item as they should have been, and this gives the opportunity to give a shout-out to the good Samaritan. I would consider sending such a letter if only to counteract what is surely being said about you by this leech. Something along the lines of “I was so grateful to you for returning my lost wallet … as I explained to you I do not carry cash at all and that’s why I couldn’t pay you … I hope there are no hard feelings and you understand how much it means to me to have my property returned to me …” or something like that. I would be more than a little concerned at having a creep like this know my personal contact info and be holding a grudge. Better out the story than have him be able to do damage in the dark.

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Karen L August 29, 2016 at 12:34 pm

Fifth, he taught all of that to his child, to continue to tradition to the next generation.

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Ashley August 29, 2016 at 1:25 pm

I’m inclined to believe that because he took it with him rather than turning it into the store, he was hoping for a reward from the get go.

I found someone’s debit card in an ATM and their wallet on the ground by the ATM (no idea how they managed that one) but because the bank was closed, I took it to the police station. A reward never entered my mind. My goal was to prevent the person who lost their wallet from having their info stolen.

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Swamptribe August 29, 2016 at 1:46 pm

I work in retail, and we find things all the time. We do our best to return them to the rightful owner. I actually had one customer accuse a store employee of stealing the cellphone she’d lost. My manager politely informed her that most of his employees had much nicer phones that the one she lost, so had now reason to steal hers.
Another time a customer complained that the ‘money better still be there’ when we returned a lost wallet. My manager (different one) informed him that if it wasn’t, it had been taken before ANY of her employee found it.
Also, always keep some form of ID in your wallet. We have found teenagers and children’s wallets containing money, and have had no way to return it.

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mark August 29, 2016 at 2:02 pm

Not only would I not ask for a reward I would not accept one (except perhaps small token like buying me a coffee.) I think I’m pretty normal in this regard.

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JWH August 29, 2016 at 7:59 pm

I’ve had this situation once or twice. I’m typically embarrassed by it, but if I refuse, and a person pushes the reward, I’ll go ahead and take it.

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Lisa Hughes August 29, 2016 at 2:23 pm

A few years ago, DH and I were traveling down to visit DD, when he got a call on his cell phone from her, asking if I had my cell phone. It turned out that my phone had dropped out of the car when we had stopped at a gas station. A school-aged girl found it and gave it to her father, who called the last-dialed number, which (luckily) was DD. We called him and arranged to turn around and meet them at a fast food place by the gas station so I could reclaim my phone.
I really wanted to reward the girl, but her father was very definite that he did NOT want her to receive a monetary reward for doing the right thing. We compromised on my giving the father some cash so that the girl could treat herself and her younger sister to dessert (I think ice cream) as part of their dinner. There are people who do the right thing, and who are teaching their children to do the right thing!

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Sarah August 29, 2016 at 2:40 pm

According to Jewish Law there is a commandment to return lost property to the owner and it is FORBIDDEN to take a reward for doing so.

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LonelyHound August 29, 2016 at 3:07 pm

I am torn because I would have done one of three things: 1. turned it into the store customer service desk after I called the owner; 2. shown up at the owner’s house (I know people dislike that one) so I can be sure he/she gets purse/wallet in hand; or 3. hand it off to the police. Keeping the purse overnight does not surprise me. The cynic in me said the man probably tried to use the credit cards only to find them frozen. After that the only way to gain anything would have been to try and demand a “reward”. The keeping it overnight is bugging me to no end.

Maybe to restore a little faith in humanity: I was out grocery shopping once with my 2 month old and 22 month old when it was time for a trip to the bathroom for everyone. I was completely frazzled not only because I had 2 under 2, but also because I was fighting my OCD, my husband was home extremely ill, and I was trying to take care of it all. I gathered all I need to do a pit stop with young ones and left my half full cart. When I came back there was a middle-aged woman standing next to my cart just staring at the bathroom entrance. I was very confused at first, and looked around for my cart. She said that she had been there, done that, and by the way I had cute kids. I smiled, thanked her, and in complete confusion reclaimed my cart. It was then I realized I had left my purse in the cart. Keys, cellphone, wallet, and driver’s license right there for any one to take. It did not dawn on me until I looked in my purse for all my credit cards and driver’s license that the woman had stood guard over my cart. I looked but could not find her.

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lakey August 29, 2016 at 3:10 pm

I’ve had 2 instances of having left something of value in a public place. In one I had taken a nice ruby and diamond ring off at a table in a restaurant and left it behind. I went back and it was given to me by the manager. In the other I had left a beach bag behind in the parking lot. It contained a couple hundred dollars in cash, my checkbook, all of my credit cards, my drivers license, a brand new pair of glasses, an iphone, an ereader, and a nice watch. I felt sick. After checking the lot and the concession stand I went home. There was a call on my landline from a police officer. Someone turned in the bag at the police station. In both cases I gave the people rewards. However, in neither case was it implied that I should, I did it because I appreciated what they did. Particularly, the young college student couple that returned my beach bag saved me an enormous amount of money and effort. They didn’t hang around till I got there to see if I would offer them anything.

I consider it odd that the OP’s people returned the wallet in person, rather than turning it in to the store or a police department. You return something because it is the right thing to do, not because you want a reward.

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lakey August 29, 2016 at 3:11 pm

Also, the police officer suggested that I not take so many valuables with me to the beach.

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edy August 29, 2016 at 3:23 pm

I’m inclined to think this guy took your wallet and was disappointed when he found out that you don’t carry cash! Instead of tossing it in the bushes like any self respecting pick-pocket, he tried to extort money from you. Shame on him, and best of luck to his daughter.

I once left my purse at a fast food place and didn’t notice as I went about my day. Turns out a young teenage employee had found it and kept it safe until the store closing, when he felt that I would be worried about it and delivered it to my door. He was gone before I had the chance to react, much less think about rewarding him. (And I happened to have a LOT of cash in my purse at that time, which he must have seen when he looked for my photo ID. )

Weeks later after thinking about what to do, I went to the store and asked about who dropped it off (I couldn’t even describe him!) and when they said they knew who I meant, I left a gift card for him. I hope it got to him as a reward or that Karma rewarded him tenfold for his selfless act.

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Bibianne August 29, 2016 at 3:50 pm

I once found a wallet at a fete (while living in the UK). I went searching for a bobbie (police officer) and I handed it over. I just gave the wallet and walked away. That is what one does. Same when you walk behind someone with a baby stroller and they do not notice munchkin dropping a to or a blankie… you pick it up and say: “oh, cutie pie dropped this” hand over item. and walk away.

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Princess Buttercup August 29, 2016 at 4:14 pm

Reading comments it sounds like I’m odd for not trusting anyone, including store workers. I’ve seen cases where store workers took a found item and tossed it on the desk in an unlocked office and never thought of it again until a few days had passed without anyone asking for it. Then they looked to see if there was anything worth keeping and trashed the rest. As such I would not immediately take a found wallet to the store and hope they did the right thing. I would hang out in that area to see if they returned in a while. If they didn’t then I’d look for contact info.
A few times I’ve found lost cell phones, I look at the recent contacts received and contact a parent if I find such listing (or spouse) or the most recent contact made. Each time I’ve been able to get the phone back to the person without wondering “did the random person I dropped it off with do the right thing or not”. And each time I got it to the person, they said ” thank you so much!” And I responded with “I’m just glad I was able to get it back to you” and left, didn’t even give them an opportunity to offer a reward because I’m not greedy.

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TakohamoOlsen2 August 29, 2016 at 4:25 pm

My daughter found a wallet while out walking one day. I belonged to an elderly gent who lived quite close and had a substantial amount of money in it. We returned it to him. He said the money was for Christmas presents for his grandkids and he was so grateful for the return he gave my daughter $100 reward!! She was surprised and said, no, keep it for Christmas. He ended up giving her $50 and insisted she take it. She was hesitant but accepted graciously. We asked him what he was doing for Christmas and he said ‘Christmas Eve, church and give presents and Christmas day sit at home, no one invited me anywhere’. He had Christmas Eve church with us and Christmas day church and lunch and celebrations with us too.

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Outdoor Girl August 30, 2016 at 2:43 pm

I think my allergies are acting up…

My Mom collected strays and orphans for holiday meals; it wasn’t unusual to have several extra people at our table. I imagine she’d have done the same as you and carried on for Easter and Thanksgiving, besides. 🙂

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Ann C August 29, 2016 at 5:54 pm

Not everyone is out for themselves.

One snowy winter, a few years back, a friend lost his wallet. A month or so later he received a package in the mail with the wallet and cash in it. He figured it must have fallen into the snow. Once the snow melted a kind soul found it and sent it to him.

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SunshineSally August 29, 2016 at 6:01 pm

How awful…agreed that he should not have expected a reward. I once found a cell phone in a case with a driver’s license and credit cards on a clothing shelf at Target. I spent a few minutes walking around to see if I could find the woman who matched the picture on the DL. After no luck, I went to customer service to hand it in. On the way out after shopping, I inquired again and was told she came to claim it. I didn’t expect any reward, certainly, and didn’t receive any. Maybe I should have held onto a day or two and gone personally to the woman’s house (total sarcasm here, btw).

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Just4Kicks August 29, 2016 at 6:34 pm

One of my son’s lost his keys to his car at a baseball game once, he’s assuming they fell out when he grabbed his gear.
My family and I (we had come to the game later) searched and searched to no avail.
Luckily my husband and I have extra car keys on our rings, so he was able to drive home.
The only other key he had was to our house, but there was no address just a plain key chain.
We get home to find an email from the head coach saying one of the players on the other team little sister found them, but, as little kids do, she didn’t remember she had them until they got home.
They went back, but everyone had gone by then.
They made several phone calls to anyone they could think of, and finally got the number of one of our coaches, who sent out an email asking us all if we knew who had lost car keys.
Turns out we played them again in the next few weeks, and they gave back to the head coach who returned them to my son.
My husband asked who turned them in, and thanked them for returning them, and the effort they put forth trying to find the owner.
They declined any reward, said they were glad to help, but my husband bought the little girl some snacks from the stand as a thank you to her.

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