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.