I found 20 karmabucks.
October 5, 2006 10:01 AM   Subscribe

I found $20 at work. I have no intention of keeping it, but I don't know how to return it.

I work in a museum. While walking into the cafe to grab breakfast one morning, I spotted a bill on the ground. I stood there for about a minute, waiting for the inevitable paniced 'owner' to show up. No one ever did. When I picked it up, I found that it was a $20.

Here's the rub, though. How would I ever be able to find the person that lost it? Furthermore, how could I even know if it belonged to a fellow employee, or a visitor who would be long gone by now? Visitors do have access to the cafe when the museum is open, and when I walked through, the facility had been open to the public for the day.

There is a lost and found here, but its not hard to figure out what would happen if I just put $20 in it. And I cannot send a mass email to everyone about it, since we are generally not allowed to send broadcast emails (those only can come from HR or the PR dept).

This isn't exactly like finding/returning someone's blue hat.
posted by ninjew to Grab Bag (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When I find money, even just a dollar or two, I always donate it. With the holiday season around the corner there should be plenty of those 'mall-bell-ringers' with their donation pots. Just slip $20 in the first one you see. Good karma all around.

At least the person's loss goes to a good cause.
posted by ASM at 10:08 AM on October 5, 2006

Probably keep it. It`s not a huge sum -- and you already pointed out the near impossibility of returning it to whomever lost it.

You say you work in a museum. Don't many museum's have a big lucite box full of cash donations in the lobby? Maybe make a little anonymous donation.

That, or put it back where you found it and let someone else worry about their karma.
posted by penchant at 10:09 AM on October 5, 2006

I'd say yes, you're quite right about it being difficult to locate the original owner of the bill...so how about donating it to a local organization you support?
posted by Asherah at 10:09 AM on October 5, 2006

You could post a sign in an employee area saying "Did you lose something of value in the cafe? See ninjew."

But I doubt you'll get any (real) takers. Just buy something nice for the office with it--like some donuts one morning.
posted by bcwinters at 10:09 AM on October 5, 2006

It seems very unlikely that you'll be able to return a bare $20 to it's original owner given the circumstances you describe.

I'd probably place it in the museum's cash donation box.
posted by Good Brain at 10:10 AM on October 5, 2006

Donate it to the museum, or MetaFilter!
posted by ml98tu at 10:15 AM on October 5, 2006

I second,third,fourth the donate it.

Or keep it.

How does your karma feel today?
posted by SirStan at 10:15 AM on October 5, 2006

Donate it to the museum. Whoever lost it has written it off by now, and it sounds like you would feel badly keeping it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:15 AM on October 5, 2006

Leave a note at lost and found about some lost money and leave your name as a contact. If someone can supply the denomination and location where they lost it then that should be good enough evidence to return it to them. If you don't hear anything in a few weeks then donate it.
posted by JJ86 at 10:29 AM on October 5, 2006

Give flowers anonymously to somebody who looks like they need them.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:31 AM on October 5, 2006

As has already been said, returning it's almost impossible.

Buy yourself a couple of tickets to the movies.
posted by Captaintripps at 10:33 AM on October 5, 2006

Keep it or donate it. There's no effective way to figure out who it belongs to. Eventually you'll drop a $20 or the like and, if you even noticed it has happened, you can remember the time you found one and feel better about it.
posted by phearlez at 10:36 AM on October 5, 2006

You could use it to buy cookies/bagels/whatever for the staff at your museum - it's sort of like giving it back if someone at work lost it.
posted by echo0720 at 10:51 AM on October 5, 2006

give it to the ACLU and write an email to everyone stating that you didn't know how to identify the rightful owner, so you did something for everyone with it.
posted by krautland at 10:59 AM on October 5, 2006

Maximize happiness, I say. I recently found $25 in similar circumstances, and I carried it around with me for a while until I met someone on the train who seemed like he could really use it. My though was that even though I'm sure every little bit helps most charities, it probably made more of a difference landing in someone's lap.

I mean, $20 is a couple hours salary for a Red Cross receptionist, or whatever, but for this guy I met on the train it was a night in a hostel, or several days worth of food, or some really good bourbon. Any of those seemed like a bigger deal, to me.
posted by Squid Voltaire at 11:08 AM on October 5, 2006

Keep it. FWIW, I remember learning what Jewish law has to say about this exact situation:

If you can figure out who it belonged to, the general rule is to return it. But since the owner of scattered money can't be identified, it's okay to keep it. If the money (coins, back then) were stacked, that would give some means of identifying the owner, and so you'd have to try to return it.

So ancient Jewish rabbis say you're okay.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 11:11 AM on October 5, 2006

Don't pick up money spotted on the ground unless you already know how you're going to follow through.
posted by Pigpen at 11:18 AM on October 5, 2006

It's obviously impossible to find the owner of a banknote -- especially since they're very unlikely to report it lost to anyone (after all, why would they, when they're so unlikely to get it back?)

If you're poor, keep it. If you're not, give it away somehow.
posted by reklaw at 11:18 AM on October 5, 2006

I'd say you're perfectly within your rights to keep it; that's what I would do. Figure you're probably going to lose some money or something of value at some point, and it all balances out.

If you decide to donate it, I encourage donating it to the museum as opposed to anywhere else, as that's where it was found. I hate the idea of losing money and then having someone "charitably donate" it to some cause that I loathe.
posted by trevyn at 11:26 AM on October 5, 2006

My boss found a $50 bill in the street last month. Since he found it during United Way campaign time, and a $5 cash donation to United Way bought an "I can wear jeans today" sticker, he bought jeans day stickers for all of his reports.

Buy something small and consumable for everyone in your row, department, or whatever. It's a cool thing to do.
posted by pdb at 11:27 AM on October 5, 2006

Why not keep it? I'd keep it.
posted by limeonaire at 11:41 AM on October 5, 2006

Joining the chorus: You'll never find the original owner. It's all yours. If you're strapped for cash, keep it; if you're feeling guilty, give it to charity. But the decision is entirely yours.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:27 PM on October 5, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I know that it wouldn't be really so terrible to keep it, but I'd still feel a little off about it. I am going to donate it to the museum, since that seems like the most logical thing to do. It was lost here, so it should stay here.
posted by ninjew at 1:25 PM on October 5, 2006

Ninjew, another thought about donation: my local foodbank advertises that they provide four meals for every dollar donated. Perhaps your local foodbank could use it. $20 x 4 = 80 meals for homeless people resulting from their loss.
posted by WCityMike at 6:19 PM on October 5, 2006

I lost $20 the other day in a museum. So, consider it my gift to you.
posted by rossination at 7:32 PM on October 5, 2006

My first thought was that it was a tip left for the waitress that blew off onto the floor, but your museum cafeteria might not even have waitresses.
posted by The Monkey at 7:53 PM on October 5, 2006

What cost $20 in 1970 would cost $100.76 in 2005.

Also, if you were to buy exactly the same products in 2005 and 1970,
they would cost you $20 and $3.97 respectively.
posted by govtrust at 10:27 AM on October 6, 2006

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