Monday, March 16, 2020

Small Adventure 74

I was walking from Amu Plaza to Tenmonkan when I got to the Takamibaba intersection. I had to jog around the corner a few yards to get to the crosswalk to get past the streetcar platforms. As I was making that jog, just past the Family Mart konbini, I noticed a pinkish clear plastic pencil case lying on the sidewalk. Getting a little closer, I realized that it held paper money. I looked around to see if anyone nearby had dropped it, but there was no one in the immediate area. I didn't open the case, so I couldn't tell exactly how much was in it, but a quick estimate made it maybe 4,000 or 5,000 yen ($40-$50 USD), if all it contained were 1,000 yen notes. If there were 10,000 yen notes in the middle of the stack, it could have been as much as $220, maybe.

The general practice in Japan is to turn over found money and wallets to the nearest koban (police box), but the closest one was half a mile away. Instead, I figured I'd try talking to one of the clerks in the Family Mart, which was much closer. The clerk I found inside looked puzzled, but did accept the pencil case. Then, he noticed that along with the money was a receipt for a purchase at his shop, and he said he'd take care of it. Seeing the Fami-Mart receipt, I decided that whoever had dropped the case would try backtracking their steps, and yeah, would try coming back to this konbini.

So I go back outside and a couple seconds later, just past where I found the money, I noticed a small black object that looked like a glasses case. Inside that were a pair of glasses, and what could have been a cigarette lighter or an asthma inhaler. Thinking that whoever had dropped this stuff must have been an extremely helpless, clumsy old woman, I picked up this case and dropped into the konbini again. This time, the clerk was just coming around the aisle, with a middle-aged housewife in tow. When I held up the glasses case to say that I'd found something else, the woman announced, "That's mine, too!" She grabbed the case from me with a "thanks" and quickly turned around to resume her shopping.

I had shopping of my own to do at Donkey, several blocks farther away, so I didn't really dwell on the fact that the woman could have acted a lot more grateful than she'd had. But, the question in the back of my mind remained - "Is it altruism if there's a 90% chance that someone's watching to punish you if keep the money?"

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