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Sep 5, 2008

To Keep or Not To Keep, That is the Question

I came in and lay across the bed. The skin on my feet was stinging as if the straps across the tops of my stilettos worn all day were still squeezing it, but I had taken off my shoes. I needed a few minutes to just stop before making dinner, a few minutes to think and to rest.

When Jas had gotten in the car earlier where I picked him up, he said “Guess what happened at the laundry mat today.” “What happened?” I replied. He hangs out at the library after school lets out each afternoon and there is a laundry mat across the street where he will go with his buddies to get sodas once in a while.

“C was going to buy us sodas and he had a five dollar bill, so we went to the laundry mat to get change. At first the machine wouldn’t take the bill, so C kept trying it again and again. Finally the machine took the bill.” And then he continued to tell me the story. They hit the jackpot! Jas said the machine kept pouring out quarters, not just the twenty quarters they were due for the five quarters004dollar bill; but Jas ended up with about 65, another of the boys ended up with over fifty, C got fifty quarters and they were still coming. Jas figures between all of the boys they totaled 200 quarters, ($50 worth). He went on to explain they tried to find the owner of the laundry mat (I am sure he could see by the look on my face I wasn’t happy with him keeping the quarters). He said they couldn’t find anyone that worked there, only customers doing laundry. So their consensus was that since the machine malfunctioned and since they couldn’t find the owner, the quarters were theirs to keep.

I didn’t go back to the laundry mat; I chose to believe his story and told him I was going to leave it up to him what he does with the money.

As I lay there, I kept thinking, “Should I have done differently?” I like to think I have instilled high morals in him since the early years of his childhood and that they have taken root. Am I now a bad mother if I don’t insist he try harder tomorrow to find an owner or employee over there?

I think he plans to keep the quarters.

But here’s where I need some comments or advice from my fellow moms and other friends in the blogosphere…. Help a girl out, will ya?

What would you do?


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Ms. Single Mama said...

Oh man... that's a tough one.

I think (only because he's just a kid - b/c I would TOTALLY keep them) that he should go back again tomorrow to find the owner. But how will you really find the owner?

I wish I could help, but I'm clueless on this one. Can't wait to see what the more experienced parents have to say.

Glynis said...

I would encourage honesty, I would write a note as the parent to the owner in praise of your son's honesty, after all he didn't have to tell you what happened but a good upbringing made him be honest with you, therefore I should take this the next step further and support his honesty. Your final comment to the owner could be along the lines of...I have praised his honesty but not rewarded him, I feel that is something you might like to do...

That is what I would do (mum of 3 adults)

Heather @ Not a DIY Life said...

As a parent, I would have my child make every effort to find the owner and give the money back. My child needs to understand that that money is not his/hers to keep.

But the owner leaves his/her establishment without managerial oversight, it's his/her own fault for having a faulty machine.

Most important, if the owner cannot be located, then the child needs to understand that this money really belongs to God. I would strongly encourage my child to give the money to church or other ministry.

T said...

I don't know how I haven't read you yet....

Yeah, I agree. I would see if he could find the owner. And if not... sheesh. I would keep it but dang there's so much to think about from a parenting point of view, isn't there? He could donate it to a charity? Maybe. Or put it in savings? Gosh... I haven't come upon that one yet as my two are only 6 & 3. Sorry I'm no help.

I'm going to add you to my single parent blog roll and keep reading!! :)

Laurie of the Seven Stories said...

Personally, I think that this is a good lesson in the theory, you win some you loose some.

If your son was truthful about the incident, which you should assume, unless he is untrustworthy, then I believe this is his windfall.

I would explain to him that in life there will be plenty of times when he will be on the other side of the coin. He'll get overcharged for something and not realize until well after he has left the store and can do nothing about it. He'll purchase something that will break immediately and he will be stuck either attempting to fix it, or throwing it away. He'll drive over a nail and blow out his tire...he'll drop cash out of his wallet by accident.

You win some you lose some- that is life, and as long as he tried to do the right thing, but was unable to, I say let him celebrate his small victory.

but that's just me

Jim Everson said...

I think you should make a reasonable effort to find the owner and return the money. Because as I see it, the money belongs to someone else. It is not your son's money. If you withdraw money from your checking account that was placed there because of a computer error, you are held responsible in the eyes of the law, and must return the money. Your son did not sell anything, nor did he earn the money. He did not "find" the money, because you cannot "find" something when you are on someone else's property. Can I go into the laundramat and "find" a washing machine and take it home? No. I feel the same holds true for this money, which is clearly the property of the establishment. Negligence on the part of the owner, through faulty equipment or lack of on site management does not excuse theft. There are resources at city hall that will show who is registered to operate a business there. That is public information. Only after you have shown real effort in finding the owner, if that should fail, can the money be claimed by your son.

TAG said...

I've always told my kids they should treat others as they would want to be treated. (Note that this applies without regard to what someone else does.)

Ask your child what they would want if they owned the laundromat and someone else had "hit the jackpot"?


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