Ah yes. Another honest homeless person’s story has caught the attention of the national media. How many times have we heard about someone living on the street who finds a lost wallet, or an engagement ring, and returns it to its rightful owner? These feel-good stories make our day.
In Boston, however, the story has a “man-bites-dog” twist. The backpack found by a man who was homeless contained $42,000 in cash and travelers checks, and he returned it without a single penny missing.
But should we really be surprised? Do we assume that every person living on the streets is a dishonest, lying, cheating individual who would steal to get a buck? Why is it that, when a homeless person does an good deed, that deed is considered newsworthy?
I’m still trying to figure out why that tourist was carrying $42,000 in his backpack. I guess he was going on an extravagant shopping spree. At least the return of his money might help put a stop to stereotypes about our country’s homeless population. A lazy criminal wouldn’t have returned that cash.
How many middle-class, housed people would have returned the money? Wouldn’t it be tempting to return half the money, and claim that’s how it was when you found it? Even $21,000 is a heck of a lot of money.
It reminds me of an investigative television show, where the host hands a random passerby a bag full of fake money and asks them to watch it till he comes back. Then the hidden cameras roll to see if that person will wait for the host, or take the money and run.
In our Boston story, the man, who happened to be homeless, went straight to the police when he found his bag full of money.
So now what?
This honest man is still penniless. He did the right thing, but he is still living on the streets of America without a home. With all of that media notoriety, you would think he would benefit in some way. Sure, the police chief gave him a special commendation…but that won’t feed him or pay for an apartment.
Thanks to our high tech society, the internet is saving the day for this honest man. A crowdsourcing fundraiser is raising money from people across the country who want to make a difference in this man’s life. In fact, at the time of this writing, over $140,000 has been raised. That’s more than three times the amount that was in the bag.
That amount of money can help him put a security deposit on a new apartment and cover his rent and basic expenses for years. Now that’s what I call a great response to an honest deed.
Maybe we should crowdsource funds for more of the hard-working, honest people struggling on our streets.