See a penny, pick it up

The other day the Huffington Post tweeted something along the lines of “Woman arrested for taking money from the floor” with a link to the full story. I clicked through, intrigued and wondering how this poor woman could be punished for what anyone might do.

Then I read the story and realised that this wasn’t a case of wrongful arrest, the woman in question deserved to get nicked.

Basically the story goes a little like this-

This guy is on his way to put a downpayment on a new car, stopping on the way to buy a few little bits and bobs at a supermarket. While pulling out some cash for these items the $2,300 (around £1,400) for the car falls onto the floor. Behind him a woman sees the two wads of cash hit the deck, bends down, grabs them and keeps the cash. (You can read more about it here)

That, ladies and gentlemen, is theft. She may as well have taken the money right from his pocket herself. The woman apparently was in some tricky financial circumstances, but I don’t think that’s an acceptable excuse. I can’t think of many that would be an excuse other than someone was holding one of her loved ones hostage and she was trying to raise the ransom money.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the whole “floor cash” thing and the ethics involved. Over the years I’ve probably picked up a couple of quid off various floors, and I know people who have found tenners, and even one lucky so-and-so who found a £20 note.

Quite often, when my own funds are low I’ll daydream about finding a tenner or something, not a vast amount but enough to tide me over and maybe fund a cinema trip and purchase a gingerbread latte. However, I think because I’m actually then looking for mislaid notes I never seem to find any, its a whole “watched pot” kind of scenario, where it has to catch you by surprise.

A sight I never seem to come across- a tenner on the floor

I’ve always thought that its something lucky to happen, but of course, one man’s gain is another’s loss, and its highly unlikely that all the money has been dropped by unpleasant villains in some form of karmic resolution.

No, its probably just some unlucky schmuck like me, who won’t notice its gone until he tries to buy something.

So, here are my rules of floor cash-

First of all, taking floor cash is definitely wrong in the following situations-

  1. Like in the above story, you see who dropped it. If you know who the money belongs to you have to give it back.
  2. The money is only on the floor because its owner is sprawled on the ground. I don’t care if they’re down because of your action or unrelated causes, but if you take advantage of an injured, dead or drunk person you’re officially a scumbag.
  3. The cash is in a wallet or other form of container (suitcase, bag, envelope etc.) if its in a wallet, there might be some form of ID which can help you return it to the rightful owner. If not, hand it in to the cops, as someone might come in asking about it, and I think, but I’m not certain of this, if noone claims it within a certain amount of time you get to keep it. If that is true, you may wind up getting rewarded for doing the right thing.

I think taking the money is fine if-

  1. Its loose cash and noone is about. Under these circumstances, the chances of finding the rightful owner are almost non-existent.
  2. Its a triflingly small amount (say a pound coin or smaller), small change is constantly being dropped and if left is fair game.

If you find the money on the floor and there’s someone nearby, walking away from where you’ve found the cash, then approach them and ask them if its theirs. In doing so you’re ensuring that in any of the three possible outcomes you’re guilt-free-

1. You’ve asked the rightful owner of the money and its returned to them– balance is restored and you’ve helped out a stranger.

2. You’ve asked the wrong person but they lie and say its theirs– As far as you know, you’ve done the right thing. If there is a higher power, I hope they’re cool enough to give you points for this, as you’ve at least tried to be good, and the old saying is false- the road to hell isn’t paved with good intentions its paved with bad ones, and even worse deeds.

3. You’ve asked the wrong person and they’ve been honest– If there’s nobody else in the area, I’d say the cash is yours. You’ve tried to find the person who dropped it, but there are no other leads so you may as well have it, as a reward for trying to be good.

So those are my rules. I think they’re pretty sound.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO

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One Comment on “See a penny, pick it up”

  1. […] spoken before about walking around looking for money on the floor, and how you never seem to find it when you’re looking but will occasionally stumble on some when you’re […]


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