Found money

March 21, 2005

Night is falling quickly and patches of Henry Street are deep in shadow. I’m walking north, towards home, when I see a man crouching beneath a tree. As I draw closer I see that the man is accompanied by a dog, and he is, in fact, scooping the dog’s droppings into a bag. The man — well dressed, middle aged — stands and, holding the bag of dirt in one hand, the dog’s lead in the other, he briskly walks past me.

As the man strides north, a young couple approaches from the south. They stop and point to a spot in the shade beneath the tree. I can’t see what has drawn their attention. Did the man miss some of the dog droppings? The couple hurriedly confers with whispers and sweeping gestures. The young man darts forward, snatches something from the ground and calls after the older man, “Hey … hey, mister!” But the dog and his walker are moving quickly, fading into the gloom, and they are either can’t hear or have chosen to ignore the young man’s cry.

The young man returns to his companion and shows her whatever he grabbed from the sidewalk. He is clearly distressed that he couldn’t get the older man’s attention.

I am still walking north, I’ve nearly reached them, and I cheerily, brazenly call out, “Hey whatever that is, if you don’t want it, I’ll take it!” I expect a wisecrack in return, but the couple eyes me nervously and, without speaking, start moving away when the young man suddenly stops, turns and places the contents of his hand atop a brownstone wall. I watch them scurry across the street, see the object on the wall flutter in the breeze and walk over to see what he’s left there.

It’s money. Cash. U.S. dollars. Four dollar bills, carefully folded together. I pick it up and continue home with found money in my pocket.

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