Walking down the street, you encounter a folded piece of paper on the sidewalk. You pick it up and read it and immediately, your life has changed. Describe this experience.
It was early evening and I was slowly completing my daily walk. I leave my doorstep and head out for 15 mins and then return home. My restrictions for this wander is available street access and the willingness of my arthritic knees to participate. On this particular night it was a cold and I was pushing myself to go faster. Hit the 15 min mark and basically sprint home to where it was a lot warmer.
As was my habit, I walk looking down and slightly ahead, so that I can avoid nasty spills by tripping. Since I can trip over nothing, anything in the path was a sure bet on a fall. On the return trip, following the same path that I set out on, I saw a piece of folded paper that most definitely had not been there before.
I seriously considered just continuing past, it was just that cold, but I was fascinated by the possibilities. No one had passed me on this street that I had turned back on, which left the nasty breeze as the carrier of the paper. A gust caught the paper and it moved a little further away. I was already unsure of what it was and this move meant I had to completely move off the path to chase and capture it.
I could not resist the lure of possibilities. As I drew closer I could see it was a piece of folded white card. Not that interesting at all. But then I opened it! I found a handmade and decorated pouch which contained a $50.00 note.
I was flummoxed. Where did it come from? It was heavier than a loose piece of paper so the wind had to work to send it flying in the air. There was no identification on the hand drawn pouch but it was obvious it had been created with love and was charmingly illustrated.
I had a choice. It was pointless going door to door, trying to find the owner, it could have come from anywhere. But I did have the pouch, so I could ask people if they had lost $50.00 and see if they said yes to a single note or a mix of notes/coins and mentioned the pouch. But it was really cold and I had already began spending it in my head. Not on luxuries but on paying bills that being unemployed made it hard to pay.
I went home and the hand drawn pouch got to me. Someone had created this, presumably as a gift and it was possibly even a child. This was someone’s hard earned cash, while all I did was find it. I took the pouch and money to the Police Station and left my contact details. I felt like I had made the right decision. A few weeks later I received a call to come in to the station.
I thought maybe the money had not been claimed and it was now mine. Again images of spending it on nagging bills. I got there and the sergeant gave me an envelope. He explained that the pouch and money had been collected and the owner had left this envelope for me. On opening it I found a similar pouch and in it was a thank you note from Sarah, aged 4.
The note explained that Sarah had been waiting for her dad to come home so she could give him the pouch for his birthday. The wind had grabbed it and before her mum came running at her screams, it had disappeared from sight. In the second note, Sarah’s mum had explained that they wished they could financially reward me but they were unable to do so with their budget. She explained that Sarah desperately wanted to give her parents gifts, so they saved to get the $50.00 note.
On each of their birthday’s, Sarah gifted it to them and they recycled it. She never noticed that it was the same note or that they never used it. They didn’t have to keep saving each time a new gift was needed. The $50.00 note was important for what it did for them, more than the currency value and each gift had a new hand made pouch made by Sarah. They kept the pouches in a treasure box to show her when she was older, along with the $50.00 note.
The money was never mine and maybe the wind had gifted me the opportunity to see what my moral compass was in this time of unemployment. It changed my life because in that moment I knew that what I valued was more than the temporary financial relief that the found $50.00 note would have brought and I didn’t ruin a beautiful family tradition.
The $50.00 note pictured was one I had found and I loved the opportunity to use it in a story.