1 June 2018

Blunder

It was all going swimmingly well. There we were - the proud parents of the princess and Beryl and Peter - the parents of the fortunate fiancee. We were sitting in a micropub on Ecclesall Road called The Ale Club. In fact, we were sitting at the very table shown in the picture above.

We clinked glasses as we shared our joy and approval with regard to the forthcoming marriage. Pleasant conversation followed and there was even some talk about how the wedding arrangements might transpire though it's early days yet and all of that is still a long way off.

Peter is a local vicar on the cusp of retirement. An intelligent fellow, he never swears and lives a wholesome moral life illuminated by his Christianity. Beryl is an occupational therapist - also close to retirement - and quietly shares Peter's Christian outlook. On the other hand, I am a militant atheist.

My blunder happened like this. Peter mentioned a service station on the M6 in Cumbria, close to England's border with Scotland. I said I remembered that service station well and told this little story:-

"Twenty five years ago I was returning from a fortieth birthday party up in Perthshire. I parked up at that service station and headed inside for a mug of coffee and a snack. At the entrance I noticed a little bundle of banknotes on the floor. I scooped them up and popped them in my pocket. Then later when I was sitting down with my coffee I took out the small bundle and counted £65! It just about paid for my weekend birthday trip..."

Well. This met with Peter's stern disapproval and he queried why I had not handed the found money in to the authorities. But at a motorway service  station there is no clear reception desk and it would be exceedingly difficult to say who these so-called "authorities" were. So I kept the money for myself. As the old saying goes - finders keepers, losers weepers. Peter probably now thinks that the father of his son's bride is a moral degenerate who robs folk blind whenever he spots an opportunity to do so.

Of course if I had seen someone drop the money, I would have chased after them with it. But this money was just lying on the floor like litter. What would you have done?

55 comments:

  1. Well, YP it was obviously a mistake on your part to even mention what you'd done, given the company. I hope you haven't soured the future family relationship.
    I would have asked round at the service area, in the shops or the cafeteria, to see if anyone had lost it. If there were no takers, handed it in to the first police I'd seen.

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    1. Your moral goodness glows like a beacon in the darkness CG!

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  2. Your daughter's future father-in-law sounds like a real fun guy. Laugh a minute. Sheesh.

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    1. He might read this blog one day... so I say this to you devil woman! Never dispute the teachings of The Lord God Almighty! THOU SHALT NOT STEAL NOR SHALT THOU TAKEST THE NAME OF THY GOD IN VAIN!

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  3. I'm with Coppa's girl on all points!

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    1. If you found a twenty dollar note blowing down your street would you keep it?

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    2. Firstly, you found the equivalent of well over $100. Someone may have dearly needed that money and may have retraced their steps and tried to find it.

      Secondly, yes, my children and I found $20 at the mall, which has more traffic than our street, and took it to the office there. They said if anyone claimed it, they would return it; if no one did, they would call us in one week and we could have it. No one claimed it, we received it, and donated it to the local animal shelter.

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    3. I don't know. I try to put myself in the person's shoes of who lost the money. My honest side tells me to ask around but the other side tells me not to trust anyone who claims they've lost money after one is asking around. A lost object can be described; money not.
      Greetings Maria x

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    4. Sorry this was meant to go to the bottom of the comment list and not in reply to Jenny. x

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    5. TO JENNY - The late night situation and the logistics of the service station environment meant that finding the unfortunate loser might have been like finding a needle in a haystack.

      TO MARIA - It's just one of those things. If you lose some money in a public place it's bad luck but maybe it will teach you to be more careful with banknotes in the future - keeping them securely in a wallet or bag. I still believe I judged that situation wisely - after all, I was there and able to see the pointlessness of even trying to locate the loser. It could have been anybody and as the money was found at the entrance/exit it is 50% likely that they were already driving down the motorway.

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    6. Did it not occur to Peter that it was God himself that put that money in front of you? The way He does, you know, answering prayers and shedding His grace and allowing certain sport teams to win or lose and otherwise controlling everything on Earth in His omnipotence.

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    7. I hadn't thought of it that way. God wished to cover my weekend expenses so worked a miracle for me.

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  4. YP, hi - this is Orange Alpaca calling. No, not to spit. To offer you moral support. You did what anyone does.

    Coppa's suggestion is impractical. You can't go round asking people if they have lost £65.00. I'd be the first to say, Yes. Authorities? Forget it. They tell you to keep it if there aren't any identifying hints as to the owner. Or if you are really square, they say, give it to charity. And remind you, true story, that charity starts at home.

    To me it's all swings and roundabouts. You lose some pounds (Sterling) you gain some. I once parked up (Christchurch Priory, Dorset) at a lovely and lonely car park. As I was putting my coins into the meter my gaze fell upon a Ten Pound note on the ground. There was no one. How would I have identified the looser? Another time, not that long ago, I came home, in the dark, laden with bags which I had to put down to open the door. In the process of which I dropped my purse, unnoticed by me till five minutes later. That purse didn't contain any info as to my identity, just roughly £25.00 or so. I am not swimming in it but actually mourned the loss of that rather lovely leather bag more than the £25.00. As long as it made the swine who found it happy I am happy. I have lost a lot of money over time, I have found a lot of money over time - swings and roundabouts. Another time I'll tell you about my peculiar relationship with ATMs when they take so long to dispense the money I wander off with my card and have lovely people (behind me in the queue) running after me, waving at me th £50.00 and more I left behind.

    Rest easy and assured that vicars don't lead unblemished lives.

    U

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    1. Thank you for your moral support Ursula. I try to live a good, honest life but I was beginning to feel like a common thief.Your suggestion that sometimes we win and sometimes we lose is a valid one. It has always been the way of things.

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  5. The idea is not to ask people if they've lost X amount of money but to enquire if anyone has lost money and they need to identify the amount and any other details that would help verify their claim. It's doable.

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    1. There were about three hundred people in the motorway service station and of course in the hour beforehand another three hundred people would have exited the motorway services. All I wanted was a mug of coffee after a tiring drive down from Perthshire. I did not wish to spend an hour or so circulating amongst the other travellers asking if they had lost some moneynor did I wish to chase down the motorway - after cars that had already left the services.

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  6. Peter sounds like every other Christian I know: constantly judging, and disapproving.

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    1. We can all be judgemental but I have found that people with strong religious beliefs - Christian or otherwise - are the most judgemental and unforgiving of all.

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  7. what a pity I have come along after Vivian's comment because now it looks like I'm just being contrary.
    I take my Christianity quite seriously but I am also pretty practical and I agree that it would be next to impossible to find the owner. I would have pocketed the money.

    I wasn't there but is it possible your vicar wasn't so much judgey as naive? there is a lot of crazy rainbow and unicorn thinking in the church

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    1. Ha-ha! I love that terminology - "crazy rainbow and unicorn thinking" and I hope you weren't too offended by what Vivian and I said in the two comments above yours. Sorry for any offence.

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    2. all good! it's true

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  8. It's interesting, YP, that you main line of defence to some comments has been sarcasm.

    I think you were both wrong and selfish. £65 may be nothing to you and it is nothing to me.....now. But there was a time when £65 would have meant a very great deal to me and I'm sure it still means a lot to many people.

    It is not an insoluble problem by any means to attempt to find the owner by posting a notice without specifying the amount and in the event of no-one coming forward to you (having kept both the money for safekeeping and the amount to yourself) you would have no problem of conscience. As it happens in your case you obviously had no problem anyway. So I wonder why you posed the question?

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    1. I posed the question because I was surprised by Peter's reaction to the tale. I though that was clear. Also, for example, I don't think that this response to Jenny could possibly be misinterpreted as "sarcasm":-
      "There were about three hundred people in the motorway service station and of course in the hour beforehand another three hundred people would have exited the motorway services. All I wanted was a mug of coffee after a tiring drive down from Perthshire. I did not wish to spend an hour or so circulating amongst the other travellers asking if they had lost some money nor did I wish to chase down the motorway - after cars that had already left the services."

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    2. Furthermore Graham, I do not carry around paper, felt tip pens and sellotape in order to make lost and found notices. Besides,operators of service stations do Not usually approve of people putting up notices on their property without permission.

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    3. Jeeze. Graham's being a bit harsh.

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  9. I don't know what I would have done about the money to be honest but there's another point here. Well, there are probably about a thousand points but let's discuss this- why would a vicar be any more apt to hand in found money than an atheist? This is something that has always bothered me- the way that Christians somehow believe that a person who does not buy into their particular scheme of salvation must not have any moral compass which of course is patently untrue. I seriously doubt that self-proclaimed religious people are any more moral than those without religion. And studies on things like infidelity prove this point. So basically what I'm saying here is that this conversation has less to do with religious belief than it does with differing opinions on found money.
    Perhaps in the scheme of things, you're just more sensible about the fact that finding the true owner of that money would have been impossible.

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    1. This is the kind of person I am. If I receive too much change from a shopkeeper or barman, I tell them and give the money back. If they have made any other kind of error that favours me I tell them so that a correction can be made. I judged that finding the true owner of that money would indeed have been almost impossible and looking back I know for sure that I was right.

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    2. You were right, and you did nothing wrong that I can see, Neil. I know for a fact that if you had been able to return the money to its rightful owner, you would have done so without hesitation. Why this post has sparked so much self righteous indignation in some readers is a mystery to me.

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    3. I must say that when I wrote this post this morning I never expected to arouse any indignation.

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    4. And yet you posed the question, YP. Did you only want people to agree with your position??

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    5. Certainly not. What would be the point of posing a question like that?

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    6. That's just what I was wondering.

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  10. I think if there was no central authority to report it to, and no central office to make a general announcement over a PA system (British: Tannoy), there was little you could practically do. It doesn't seem realistic to expect you to go from table to table and person to person asking if anyone dropped cash. I suppose you could have done some research to hand it in to the local police, but given the circumstances it doesn't seem unreasonable that you kept it.

    I had a similar incident here in London when I found a small wallet containing an Oyster card (and only an Oyster card) on the sidewalk. Believing there was no way to find the owner, I used the card -- but then the next time I used it it had been cancelled. Only afterwards did a friend tell me that many people register their Oyster cards and if I'd returned it to the tube station they could have found the owner. Who knew?! I've felt bad about that ever since.

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    1. I am habitually a scrupulously honest human being so I feel absolutely no guilt whatsoever about keeping that £65. I weighed things up straightaway and realised that finding the person who dropped the money would have been simply unrealistic.

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  11. That money would have gone into my pocket, after a quick look around to see if it would be spotted. lol
    I know I am being cynical again but if handed in the garage owner would probably have done the same.
    Briony
    x

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    1. It wasn't a garage Briony - it was a motorway services building complete with toilets, amusement arcade, shops and a large cafe/dining area. As I said to someone else - there were around three hundred people in the place.

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  12. Since you asked..If you believe that this brief flash of apparent physical reality is all that there is then you did exactly what you should have done. For those of us who have other, varied, individual beliefs that may not have been the best choice. But in the end it is all about beliefs. Neither you nor I could ever offer sufficient evidence to unequivocally convince each other of our individual hypotheses. That's part of life on the planet earth.
    Please understand I am in no way religious, but I am very spiritual. There is a difference.
    Once, a good generous handful of years ago I was near destitute and in no way could I have considered investing in what in this state might have once been considered, “medical cannabis.” But I sure could have used some. And on a pedestrian, bike path I found a goodly amount of that very high quality substance all packed up in a nice little plastic bag. I first looked around to see if there were any police hiding behind a tree waiting for someone to pick it up and then I made off with it. Well how could I return something like that to it's original owner? It was wonderful stuff BTW.
    Later, my niece, who was much more street savvy than myself, told me that is what is known as a street score. I believe that could apply to your situation as well. Street score.
    Street score?
    For myself I believe that the invisible spirits in the sky, name them what you please, realized how deep in the down and outs I was at that time and offered me a bit of, “get laid back,” to keep me going down the path which is the journey of my life.
    That is what I know as, “other, varied, individual beliefs.”
    Love your blog BTW, I read it almost everyday.

    Tom


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    1. Tom - Thanks for coming out from behind the trees and leaving such an interesting response. If I ever tell the story of finding that money again, I shall say it was a "street score".
      Regards,
      Neil (Yorkshire Pudding)

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  13. I don't know what that story has to do with you being an atheist. Did you tell Peter that ever since then (and even before that day) your life has been devoted to your family, the education of hundreds of children and Oxfam? All that should count for something in my view.

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    1. Please don't misunderstand me Donna. He's a nice guy and for thirty five years has served this parish to the best of his ability. He knows that I am not all bad.

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  14. I would have turned it in some where. If I find change it goes into my pocket. I used to tell a cashier if they made an error in my favor but I don't do that anymore. There, I've bared my soul to Mr Pudding.

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    1. I wonder what made you change your response to those errors in your favour.

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  15. I would have turned it in. I'm not trying to paint myself in a saintly light (it would take gallons of paint to do so,and still not be successful), but it is what I would have done, and would do.

    If I was in a deserted area somewhere with not a building in sight nor any humans in sight for miles and miles, the story would probably be different...but yes, in a similar situation to the one you describe, I definitely would have handed it in.



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    1. Okay. I respect that Lee but WHO would you have handed it in to?

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    2. Oh! For goodness sake, Yorkie!

      Don't turn this into an ongoing. endless soap opera as long as "The Bold and the Beautiful". (It may be too late)!

      I've given my thoughts on what I would've done...and have done, in the past, in similar situations.

      I'm sure I have enough commonsense and intelligence to have found an employee at the service station to whom I would have handed the money.

      I, and no one else, am the one who has to live with my own conscience. What you do or have done, you deal with in your own way, as you see fit, and as you believe is correct.

      You asked the question of your readers, in your post...regarding what you did...I, like others, gave my response.

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    3. Lee.....If Neil had handed the cash to a random employee , do you not think that they would then have pocketed the cash?

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    4. Frances....I don't care.

      Neil asked the question of his readers - of what they would do.

      I answered it as I see it; speaking for myself as only I can do; as was asked of me.

      I gave my response - emphasis on "my" - as to how I feel and what I would have done if in a similar position.

      I thought I made that clear enough, without going on with an even lengthier discourse....

      What anyone else would have done, or would do, is their personal choice. I don't speak for them.

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  16. I would think that your ‘militant atheism’ would be of greater interest to Peter and Beryl than what you did with found money 25 years ago. Perhaps you can tell them at your next wedding planning Get-together.

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  17. In my opinion you did the only thing possible at the time....there have been some very " interesting" comments....many from people who obviously didn't understand the situation at all!! ( I feel cross on your behalf now! ). Have a good weekend . xx

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    1. Thank you Frances. I was there. It was getting on for 9pm as I recall. How much time and effort was I supposed to spend on a futile goose chase? Also motorway services are transient places. Customers may never return.

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  18. An interesting, actually VERY interesting, collection of thoughts and arguments here. I am not going to judge anyone here; all I want to say is that I remember you mentioning Peter before when you were telling us about helping your daughter moving.

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    1. Oh my giddy aunt! You remembered him!

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  19. Not to belabour this issue or wear out my welcome, if there is any left, but if you could not reasonably have made enquiries at the motorway (which is an unfamiliar concept to me, hence my ignorance as to how many people you were facing dealing with), could you have turned the money into a police station?

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.