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Ross: Good people return what’s not theirs

One of three murals commissioned by the Ballard Alliance painted by Tori Shao. Local artists are working to lift spirits by bringing color to drab plywood-covered windows in Ballard. (Photo courtesy of SDOT/Flickr)

It was one of the most-commented stories in the Seattle Times: Nicole Brodeur’s story headlined, “You return $10,000 found on Issaquah road: Your reward?”

And it was the story of a guy named Steve who, on his way to Costco, saw money scattered in the street. It was bunch of 100 bills totaling about $10,000. And along with the cash, an ID.

My first take when I read the story was – $10,000 cash – what if it’s drug money? What if I call the guy and he turns out to be El Chapo?

That’s because I read way too much news. Even when I just find a dime or a quarter, I always look around to see if there’s some grad student in the bushes taking notes for his thesis on human psychology.

But most of the commenters on Nicole’s story were much more trusting than that. They would call the guy without a second thought, and wouldn’t even want a reward. Because good people return what’s not theirs. It’s just what you do.

My favorite comment came from Seattle Times user #1515-6804-07-1142, (who’s been a member since 2018) and who said:

“Doing the right thing towards one another is an important way through which we build and sustain a society with cohesion and mutual trust. … These are very important … as we become more and more diverse.”

Who is this user 1515-6804-07-1142, I wondered. So I read on: “When I came to the US over 20 years ago, I was astonished that I could just leave my backpack in a university classroom and it wouldn’t get stolen. … I’ve since then realized that trust (among strangers) is an important mechanism that makes America successful.”

This came from an immigrant – grateful to be here because Americans trust each other. For a moment I thought, maybe he’s confusing us with Canada?

But why not make it so? There’s your homework. Figure out how to earn someone’s trust. Stop cheerfully at the crosswalk. Secure your mask as you approach someone on the sidewalk. Or start scouring the neighborhood for lost money to return.

I’ll be watching from the bushes with a notepad.

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