I found a wad of cash last week. It happened at the post office when it was my turn at the counter. There was a line behind me that snaked around the customer counter and through the double doors into the lobby. I know everyone saw it laying there; some might have witnessed its escape from the owner's pocket, but no matter, it was probably one more test of my character. I actually sighed as I bent over to retrieve it. I should have called out, "Sir! You dropped a wad!" first, and saved the sigh and the sight of my butt gone heads-up. Perhaps I was just tired or not tuned in; I tend to zone out in lines, but no matter.
After I rescued it, unstooped, and said, "Sir? You dropped your money" without counting it. Someone in line behind me said, "I'm telling you!" after the mail clerk commented on how important money is in this economy, and just as the lucky gentleman spun, took the money, and rushed through the doors on his embarrassed way; without a thank-you even. (Whew! Such a sentence.) Anyway, I can't even tell you what he looked like. Isn't that something? I either did not look at him, or his features didn't register. I also recall the color red on a piece of paper that lay between the separate folds of cash. That's all. Oh. And the long snaky line.
This afternoon (which was yesterday. Once in a while I write post-dated posts.) I visited the post office again; I needed to mail a small bundle of letters, postcards and two or three packages. When it was my turn, I noticed bits of bright colors on paper in the same place on the floor again; in front of the same counter space, and I thought, "Okay. Deja vu?" Again I sighed, bent over, retrieved the the paper, and this is what I'd found:
Stamps. Lovely lilies. They've been cherished, or so it felt at first glance. Their backing edges are smooth and show clear signs of a little wear and tear; a stamp is missing and another is slightly skewed. Their colors are bright reminders of spring. That's still no excuse for what I did. I gave them a quick once-over, showed them to the clerk, and quick as a flash I thought of giving them to her. But I didn't. And then I . . . Oh! I can't say it! But I must. I handed over my first package that needed weighing and it was business as usual. It was that long winding line that made me forget. In the end I held those stamps in my left hand all the while my packages were weighed, stamped and paid for.
In my defense a) I hadn't paid attention to the person who dropped them; b) I didn't want to lose my place in line to search for the owner; c) I didn't think about the value of seven stamps at all. It's not like I need them; I have more than enough hummingbird stamps. So why didn't I make a fuss? I don't know. What would you have done? Should I take them back and turn them in at the desk? Remember the man who lost the money? Well, he acted annoyed instead of grateful for getting his cash back. I tried to convince myself that he was simply embarrassed, but what do I know? I know this much. My conscience is bothering me way too much for the price of seven thirty-four cents postage stamps.