It's one of the oldest ethical dilemmas in the book, and even thought we've heard stories like this a million times, we're still not sure what we'd do in the same situation.
The conflict boils down to this: If you find money without any name attached to it, do you keep it? Is it technically yours? What if you were able to find a name -- do you return it, or do you assume that they've moved on with their lives, and the money is yours to keep? And if you did keep it, could you live with the guilt?
That's the question that faced these SUNY New Paltz roommates when they found a massive amount of money, hidden inside a couch they'd gotten from a thrift store. Third-year geology student Reese Werkhoven, Mount Holyoke College graduate Cally Guasti, and recent New Paltz graduate Lara Russo weren't sure what to do at first, but what they decided on is truly inspiring and will reaffirm your faith in humanity. check out the story below.
Little did they know when they opted to save money and buy it secondhand, they'd be setting themselves up for a payday.
They brought it home, cleaned it, and arranged it in their apartment. They were just getting cozy on the couch when one of them felt something under the couch's arm
“I almost peed,” Werkhoven said. “The most money I’d ever found in a couch was like fifty cents. Honestly, I’d be ecstatic to find just $5 in a couch.”
The group began a thorough excavation, opening the couch up and exploring every last nook and cranny.
“Just when we thought we pulled out the last envelope we’d find another $1,000 a few minutes later,” said Guasti.
It was $40,000 in cash.
The group then had to do the mental work of deciding what to do with the money. It wasn't theirs, but they'd found it with no name or note attached to it.
“We had a lot of moral discussions about the money,” Russo said. “We all agreed that we had to bring the money back to whoever it belonged to… it’s their money– we didn’t earn it. However, there were a lot of gray areas we had to consider.”
Finally, the mystery had a lead: They found a woman's name in one of the envelopes, and tracked her down. When they went to return the money, she explained what happened in an interview with a local publication:
Her husband had had a heart condition and knew his time was limited.
Before he died, he gave her money each week to put away for when he
passed. For 30 years she stored her savings inside an old couch in
the television room where she slept. When her husband passed away,
she remained working as a florist and continued to store her money in
the couch until she had an operation on her back and went to a
rehabilitation center for several months. Upon the doctor’s advice,
the woman’s daughter and son-in-law replaced the couch she slept on
with a full-size bed.
She'd thought the couch and the money was gone forever, but thanks to these kind strangers, she was able to get her life savings back. She gave them a $1,000 reward, and in the end, everyone walked away feeling good about the fateful situation.
Next, 21 incredible thrift store finds.