Monday, January 11, 2010

The Lost Wallet

When I was about ten, we were walking in the Lake District and when we'd got as high as we were going to get, we stopped for a little sit down.

I took my beloved Instamatic 100 camera from round my neck and placed it on the ground beside me.

Then I set off down the mountain and left it behind.

It took some time for me to notice, probably because I'd used up my ration of photos - those were the days when if you were given a roll of film that would take 24 photos for the week, you thought you were doing really well.

When I did notice, of course, I was really upset because it was by now too late in the day to set off up the mountain again.

So you may imagine my joy and relief when I spotted my camera, coming towards us round the neck of a couple who had found it and - amazingly - recognised me.

I don't leave things behind or lose things a great deal - I hate the consequences far too much. I remember how upset I was for that hour when I thought my camera was gone for ever!

Today, on his way back from work, Stephen found a wallet in the snow.

He had gone on his bike, as he usually does - six miles there, six miles back - - yes, I know! Hero or lunatic, depending upon your point of view - and when he got to work he found that the heating was broken so the place was freezing. So everyone came home early - and that meant that it was still light, and he saw the wallet lying by the side of the road.

It was sopping wet. Stephen just left it closed and was about to ring the police but I am far nosier so was inside it in a flash, looking for an address.

I found one, on a prescription. I also found two very soggy ten-pound notes and a credit card.

Clearly a loss, not a robbery, then!

So we rang the police, and they rang the owner, who was absolutely delighted as he had lost it - amazingly - last Thursday, and had given up all hope of ever seeing it again. He had driven off with it on the top of his car, where it had clearly stayed until he went round a roundabout, a couple of miles from his house.

And, since then, it had been buried in the snow, but today it's starting to thaw and the wallet had made its dramatic reappearance.

So Wallet Man came round to collect it after work and tried to give us a few quid for a drink, which was nice of him, but we refused of course.

There was never in any doubt in our minds about whether we'd ring the police, and that pleased me - we're as honest as we like to think we are.

Hmm - - yes - - but perhaps, for twenty quid, we can afford to be. What would we have done if there'd been a hundred pounds? A thousand?

I'm sure Stephen would still have handed it in, and so would I. Partly because I'd want the owner to have it back, thinking of how I felt about my camera. But if that didn't make me do it, it would be because - - as that chap Hamlet once remarked - conscience does make cowards of us all. My conscience just wouldn't let me keep it - I'd feel terrible, probably every waking moment, for ever.

I blame my parents for bringing me up this way. I'm just not cut out for a life of crime.


Anonymous ruth said...

I too have returned lost/stolen purses and bags to their rightful owners, usually going via the police or at least notifying them so if a theft has been reported they can update their records.

There would be a much greater dilemma if you found loose money on the street, not in a wallet so ownership is completely unidentifiable.

How much would you pick up and keep without notifying police? coins or notes, one pound? five? ten? one hundred?

6:37 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's good to know things can make it back to their owners once in a while. I reckon if the wallet had had loads more money in, you would have done exactly the same thing.

I remember coming across something lost (also) in the Lake District and we managed to reunite it with its rightful owner fairly quickly - the exact details escape me now as this was probably over 40 years ago. What I recall more readily is that about 40 minutes later, we were desceding the mountain and found a £5 note just stuck in some stiff grass. We vaguely wondered if the chap we had helped had left it there. Suffice it say, we kept it... and the drinks were on me that evening.


Verify word is 'tright': to return someone's property without a single thought of keeping it.

10:06 pm  
Blogger Silverback said...

... but I am far nosier so was inside it in a flash, looking for an address.

Ha ! How are we going to get a decent 'Ireland Fund' total if you give up free money, girl ? And a credit card !! Priceless.

I'm glad I have friends who are honest, trustworthy and totally decent human beings. Sighhhhh.

10:44 pm  
Anonymous mumof4 said...

I would return it too though. Would not be able to sleep otherwise!

11:01 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

You shouldn't blame your parents for bringing you up that way, you should be eternally grateful to them for the notion that "Honesty is the Best Policy" is one of the most important moral messages that we can transmit to succeeeding generations.

VERIFICATION wingsh = to live an honest life

12:42 am  

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