Thursday, June 02, 2005

What would you do?


Oscar faced an ethical dilemma yesterday.

Walking down the street to go to the Post Office in order to send my letter to the Chinese Ministry of Justice (47p, to save the rest of you the trip), I noticed a £20 note lying in the street.

Twenty pounds is a difficult sum. Five pounds is neither here nor there. Forty pounds I would have handed into the police without hesitation. But twenty pounds... well, it would mean nothing to some people (in my part of Chiswick they shit more than that). But to others it could be a significant amount. And I had no clue as to how it got there. The broken bottle nearby might have had something to do with it. Or not.

There was no one around to ask, no sign of someone having dipped his hand in his pocket for an Extra Strong Mint and lost a multi-coloured piece of paper in the process. There was no frantic mother, toddler in one hand, valium in the other, scanning the ground desperately muttering, "where is it?" The street was, in fact, deserted but for me.

Of course, I looked round to see where the hidden cameras were, but there was no obvious place to put them (in any case, surely they'd have tried this sort of stunt on a high street, not a residential avenue in wealthy West London). Since the money was outside a house, I rang the doorbell and asked the woman who answered if it was hers. She denied it (bit slow-witted there, madam).

After a telephone consultation with Mrs Gnu, I decided to hand it in at the police station where the desk officer was equally ambivalent about the point of surrendering it. But it becomes mine after a month if it's unclaimed, at which point it will be passed on straight away to one of the good causes in the sidebar on the left (the 'other links' bit, obviously - I'm not giving it to another blogger). Perhaps this would be a suitable donation to the 'Make Poverty History' campaign?

So, there you are. A crisp £20 note awaits whoever among you is sharp-witted and conscience-free enough to go and claim it. Of course, you have to guess where I found it...

What would you have done in my circumstance?


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