When you find something that someone else has misplaced – whether it be cash or a laptop with state secrets – common courtesy dictates that you return the item.
We reject that convention. Don’t get us wrong, we are not advocating theft, and if what you found has a pulse and would be unethical to include in a soup, it should most likely be returned. But if fortune gives a subtle nod in the direction of a piece of jewelry capable of choking a horse, we say check for surveillance cameras, scoop and vamoose.
Some will no doubt take umbrage at this and indeed there is one compelling argument against walking around with eyes cast downward in search of treasure – you could end up under a bus if you stray from the sidewalk. But what we’re proposing here benefits everyone: you, most importantly, but also the individual who lost the item and even society at large.
9. Other People’s Money Can Bring Happiness
The prevailing wisdom has it that other people’s money cannot bring you happiness and that satisfaction is attainable only through the fruits of one’s own labor (as in the spiritual and economic sustenance derived from work, not whatever you can smuggle out during your shift as a fruit-picker). That is BS. When you can get your hands on a fat sum of cash or a big-ticket item without first having had to murder precious leisure hours or a neighbor, well the ensuing pleasure is just right off the charts.
8. It Teaches the Feckless a Valuable Lesson
There are lessons to be learned from pain, such as the importance of taking better care of one’s belongings, and why wine should be consumed by the bottle and not by the box.
7. The Found Item/Cash Could be the Proceeds From Drug Sales
Found money is usually of nefarious origin – the payout, perhaps, from a drug deal that required someone to insert something into an orifice without the aid of a medical professional. To ensure that your conscience is clear of involvement in such shady dealings, keep the money and buy your own drugs from a reputable supplier.
6. Strike a Blow Against Materialism
It is unhealthy to develop attachments to inanimate objects. The wise man should be able to take his favorite piece of furniture – let’s say the futon upon which he first had sex – set it aflame, and float it down the nearest river like a Viking funeral ship.
5. You Risk not Getting a Reward
If the person to whom you are returning the item veers from protocol, the ensuing bitterness is unspeakable. Spare yourself the risk of experiencing it by never returning anything.
4. To Avoid Scammers
When you report a found item, it’s highly likely that some greedy no account will make a false claim for it. From a moral perspective, you tell us what is preferable: rewarding your perspicacity in finding that Rolex in the intensive care or possibly handing over an expertly engineered precision timepiece to some lost and found larcenist?
3. The Person who Lost the Item Could be a Real Jerk
This individual is obviously irresponsible for having lost the item in question. To what extent do these traits carry over into this individual’s life and spread like a poison to those nearest? Is he or she a checkout line small change counter? Perhaps we’re dealing with a hit and run parking lot murderer or a national parks cigarette-leaving arsonist.
2. You Might Have Finder’s Remorse
Picture this: You’re in an international rowing regatta. Your team loses. The winning team then stages an impromptu pier party, complete with “air hump” taunts directed at you and your teammates. As this spectacle is taking place, you notice the wallet of one member of this team fall out while he’s using one hand to do a headstand and the other to crotch chop in your general direction. You might consider it your ethical duty to point out the dropped wallet, but some pricks deserve to be taught a lesson. Therefore it is okay to snatch the item or kick it into the drink as the situation dictates.
1. Found Valuables Can Make Excellent Gifts
This is especially true if they fail to light up eyes at the pawn shop. Items such as these can come in handy when special occasions sneak up, like the anniversary of the birth of someone you might have played a key role in conceiving.