Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Paved with gold and good intentions

Perth is a great city to walk around in.  It's pretty flat in the city centre and the footpaths are wide.  They are also paved with gold.

It was such a beautiful afternoon when I finished work and was delivered back to the hotel that I decided to enjoy it by going for a walk.  The afternoon escape was on and people queued for buses, made their way to the train stations or just wandered along, similarly enjoying the magnificent air.  As I crossed the road I saw something on the ground.  It seemed to be a $5 note.  I looked more closely.  It was a $5 note.

I'm always hesitant to pick up money lying in the streets.  I worry that there will be a hidden camera pointed at me and a studio audience somewhere laughing their heads off as I chase a note of small denomination that happens to be attached to a string being yanked by some producer somewhere. As I bent down to retrieve it and give it a nice warm (temporary) home in my wallet, I checked carefully for string.  I could see none, so whisked the note up and walked on.

As I write this, I'm feeling the need to justify myself.  There was no one near the note when I relocated it.  I had not seen anyone drop it.  It was just lying there, waiting for someone to pick it up and I figured that it may as well be me.

I once picked up a $50 that was just lying on the ground.  Same thing: checked for string first and when there was none, put it in my wallet.  Again, there was no one around and I had not seen anyone drop it.

Perhaps these occasions of money lying at my feet is an illustration of the universe rewarding previous good behaviour.  I've returned wallets, watches, extra change - you name it, if I can return something to their rightful owner I will.  (Just today on the Skybus, I returned a pair of really ugly sunglasses which someone had left on the luggage rack.  Maybe I won't be rewarded for that one...)

On one occasion in particular, I think my good behaviour was definitely rewarded.  I was travelling from Melbourne to Sydney.  When I arrived in Sydney I met a friend and we caught a cab out to the conference venue where we would be staying.  The plan was that I would pay for the cab.  I checked for my wallet and it was not in my handbag or briefcase or anywhere in the taxi.  That cold feeling took over.  I had quite a lot of cash in the wallet and I was now interstate without my wallet, any cash or any credit cards.  I rang the airline, the airport and anyone else I could think that I had come into contact with or used my wallet with.  No luck.

Just as I was at the point of contacting banks, I received a call on my mobile.  It was the guy who served me in one of the airport shops in Melbourne when I bought a bottle of water.  I had left my wallet on the counter when I left.  He noticed but couldn't find me.  He looked through the wallet and found my business card and called the number.  He said that he would meet my flight when I returned to Melbourne and give me the wallet back.

I planned to give him a financial reward.  He had saved me a lot of trouble and had also returned my wallet completely intact.  All the money was there, along with the cards and all the other stuff that accumulates in a wallet.  When he met me at the gate lounge he revealed that he wasn't even working that day and had travelled to the airport especially to return my wallet.

I offered him a cash reward and he looked offended.  He refused it and said that he had done only what was right and that people shouldn't be rewarded for doing the right thing.  He went on to say that Jesus would reward him later.

Perhaps the money should be lying on the road for him, instead of me!

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