Others have also lost money, but not their faith in humanity


I HAVE to admit -- I am a little jealous of the many readers of this column who have written to tell stories of glorious honesty. These stories have trickled in since early last month, after I described the frustrating loss of $40 in a supermarket and the disappointment that an Honest Human Marylander did not turn it in.

Hey, I'm happy for all you people!

I think it's great that you lost a wallet or a purse or tickets to Dave Matthews and that the person who found them found you! Life, she is beautiful when that happens. It affirms your faith in mankind and all that.

But I'll admit, I am jealous when I hear these stories.

When it was my turn to mess up and lose some cash, the person behind me at the self-serve checkout in the Giant in Burtonsville thought it was perfectly OK to pocket the money and slip out of the supermarket.

Hey, I can live with it.

Just stop rubbing it in my face!

"Dan, I believe!" wrote a woman named Clark (no first name given) in the latest e-mail on the subject. "It has been a stressful but amazing day! It is cold, snow on the ground, not a happy February for anyone. On Monday my son, Garrison, will be 13. His father is away on business and I agree to take 8 boys to Sports [the video arcade and entertainment complex] for a birthday treat. At 11:45 a.m. I cash a check for $200 -- Sports money, birthday money, and hopefully a little extra for pizza."

Yeah, right, hopefully.

"Not thinking, I toss the envelope of money on the passenger seat, pick up my daughter and head for Target off of Perring Parkway. We return lampshades and look for the new Harry Connick CD for my husband's Valentines gift."

Gee, I just love the detail, don't you?

"As we get ready to check out, I can't find the envelope! I know it is in the car and, of course, I locked it. We hit the car -- no money! We search the car -- no money! We search under the car -- no money! We search all garbage cans in the return area [at Target]. Staff and managers can't be nicer -- the money is gone!"

So I am hoping the story ends here, but it doesn't.

"That afternoon at a basketball game at Towson High School my cell phone rings. It is a woman named Bonnie. ... Bonnie and her fiance, James, ... found an envelope of money in the parking lot of Target. James picked it up, seeing a $20 bill, and put it in his pocket and headed home to Chase, Maryland. Inside the envelope, Bonnie found $200 of crisp new 20s. She also found my license. (My bank always puts your license back in your bank envelope.) Bonnie and James had my money and they couldn't have been nicer."

Wait, there's more.

"Bonnie and James are getting married in early spring with five teen-age daughters between them. I know they could have used the money and I asked if they ever thought of keeping it. Bonnie stated that her daughter had a friend who lost over $300 the same way -- it fell out of the car.

"As I left this house of two strangers, I saw a great future, a great marriage and people who believe in truth. I left their house in happy tears. I wish them all the best. I believe!"

Wow, Clark -- do you serve pancake with that syrup?

Look, people, it's OK. I know there are honest people out there. It just wasn't the person standing behind me at the Giant in Burtonsville. Stop rubbing it in my face!

The only letter I appreciated on this matter was from a reader named Matt Kirby:

"Your column was a complete re-enactment of my experience at the Rotunda Giant. Same thing -- purchased items for approximately $12 in one of the four self-checkout lines, had restless people staring me down from behind, asked for $40 cash back, hurried out the door, got in the car, cursed out loud, ran back inside, confusingly searched all the auto-tellers, asked customer service ... and nothing. It was a terrible feeling. I chalked it up as a loss and was greatly disappointed with the mass of people surrounding me. Went home and decided not to tell my wife. It makes me wonder how often this occurs. Thanks for your column, now I don't feel quite as foolish."

I am here to serve.

No sanctuary

Sunday's column on the woman who wanted me and my friends to quiet down in a restaurant so she could have a conversation on a cell phone got Richard Crystal to recount his favorite story from the wireless age:

"This meshugas with cell phones began for me at Temple Hollywood Beth El in Los Angeles. I was to accompany my partner while he recited kaddish [the Jewish prayer for the dead] in blessed memory of his father. Toward the end of the service as the rabbi was speaking the sound of a cellular telephone ring sounded throughout the cavernous sanctuary. The attendees turned to see the congregant who could have been so stupid to disturb the service so selfishly. As though the ringing weren't bad enough, this middle-aged female began to carry on a conversation with the caller in full voice! The rabbi simply stared at the culprit and said, 'Is your conversation finished?' To which the lady replied, 'In a minute.'"

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