By Michael Howlett
October 2, 2013
Readers Digest recently conducted a “Lost Wallet” test to judge which cities in the world are the most and least honest. Now, I know honesty is a good policy. Yes siree, if everyone was honest with everyone else, what a wonderful, magical and bloody place this would be. Honesty only goes so far.
The most honest city in the test proved to be Helsinki, Finland, where 11 of 12 wallets containing ID, money and credit cards were returned. There was a tie for second between Budapest, Hungary and … get ready for this … New York City. Yes, the people of the Big Apple are among the most honest, returning eight of 12 wallets. Heck, Moscow, which is usually associated with corruption, tied for third with seven returned wallets.
What’s the most dishonest city? The winner is Lisbon, Portugal, where just one wallet was returned, and the runnerup is neighboring Madrid, Spain, where two wallets were returned. I’ve always said those dastardly people of the Iberian Peninsula cannot be trusted.
Of course, I’m not the most trusting sort anyway. You see, I was scarred by an emotionally-disturbing incident during my youthful years. In fact, you might say that honestly kicked me in the privates when I was but a lad, and I have never forgotten it. My first job was cleaning the post office after school, which I did with great diligence, not because I was so ambitious, but because my father worked at the post office. If I did a crappy job, then he would hear about it, which meant I would really hear about it. Nepotism does not always work out the way you think it will.
Anyway, one afternoon as I was cleaning the lobby, I came across a wallet that was rather thick. Being the curious young fellow I was, I looked inside, and, Glory, Glory, Halleluiah, I found the mother lode. The reason the wallet was so thick was because it contained over $500 in beautiful bills of varying denominations. Yes, the cleaning business was looking up.
I then made the mistake of showing it to my father, who said, “You know what you have to do.” I knew even before he said that, because I was a fresh-faced 14-year-old who thought the world was good and just. The wallet, of course, had identification in it, so I knew who the owner was. I will not say who the owner was, but she was a wealthy old lady who lived on Main Street.
We locked the wallet up at the post office that evening and the next day I walked down the street to return it, dreaming of a rich reward. After all, you find over $500 someone has lost, you can expect at least a $50 reward, right?
Well, I knocked on the door, explained to the rich, old lady I had found her wallet and handed it to her. She thanked me, hesitated for a moment as if she was figuring out just how much to give me for being an honest, upstanding young man, and quickly handed me back $5, and shut the door. I stood at the closed door, stunned. I could have taken the money and thrown the wallet in the trash, but I didn’t. I returned her money and all she can part with is five freakin’ dollars.
That incident would have turned a lesser person into a thieving criminal, a scourge to society, but, to my credit, I have remained, for the most part, a loyal law-abiding citizen. Well, there was college … hey, everybody was doing it … and the army, but I don’t think you can count those years. I mean, more law breaking goes on at those institutions than anywhere except Wall Street or Ken Cuccinelli’s office.
So, you’re probably asking “If you found a wallet with lots of money in it, what would you do?” Well, I would return it, except …. if it belonged to a relative of the rich, old lady who stiffed me lo those many years ago. They owe me. Oh yes, they owe me.