In October 2012 a homeless Calgary woman saw a purse leaning against a vehicle’s passenger door. She had just registered what she was seeing when the car drove off. She could not get the driver’s attention so took it back to her room in the downtown YWCA.
When she opened the purse to see if she could find a phone number, she discovered it was full of $100 bills. With no resources of her own, that money must have looked enticing. But she told the Toronto Sun: “It never crossed my mind to keep the money. It’s not mine to keep.”
She took it to her case worker, and the two of them counted a total of $10,400, which they turned over to the police. Media got wind of the woman’s good deed, but she insisted on remaining anonymous. Outside of a $500 gift from the grateful family who claimed the cash, her life did not change. She stayed on at the Y. Her dream of moving into a home where she could keep her cat remained out of reach.
But people did not forget. The trust fund established for her at a local bank gradually grew. By March 2013 there was enough money in it to finance a bachelor suite in a rent-subsidized seniors’ complex. She and her cat were reunited.
She let the National Post print her picture (though not her name) and said of the donors: “I think it says a lot about human nature and, personally, I think a lot of people — had they found that money in the purse — would have done exactly what I did.”
I think she is right, and I hope an unemployed teacher in College Station, Texas has similar good fortune. Elizabeth Elza Clarke sent me the link about Candace Scott, who ran over a plastic bag which turned out to be packed with $100 bills. She turned it into Chase Bank, which gave her a $500 gift certificate as thanks. (Her ABC interview is below.)
Both women’s natural reflex was to return the money. I think most people would do that, not because they might receive a reward but because it is the right thing to do. Still, it gives me hope that the homeless Calgary woman now has a home of her own. And I hope the Texas woman will soon have the job she seeks.