17 November 2014
Do the right thing
Last week, I was riding the Baltimore Light Rail and I found a wallet. I'll be honest with you--the first thought that went through my head was to leave it. I know this sounds heartless. But knowing the shady types of people that one is likely to encounter on the Light Rail (and I've seen my fair share), my first instinct is to leave it because I don't want to get involved. My brain has been wired to expect that it's entirely possible that someone is running some type of scam. Maybe they're not targeting me directly, but they're looking for a sucker. I didn't want to be that guy.
Against my initial thought, I picked it up and looked through it. It was an ID wallet with several disability ID cards for the Light Rail and DC Metro as well as other stuff you find in a wallet (no, there was no money or credit cards).
I thought about turning the wallet over to the Light Rail driver, but wondered how long it might take to find its owner, if ever. I thought about dropping it off at the MTA headquarters, but again wondered if this wallet would get lost in the system. Against my initial thought, I pocked the wallet with the intent of locating the owner and returning it to him.
When I returned home (with a little bit of advance work by my better half), it took all of five minutes of searching to find the owner. I was able to contact him, confirm it was his, and then meet up with him (in a public place) to turn it over.
I write this not to suggest that I did anything special. I did what I hope someone else would do if I had lost my wallet. He probably went through a hassle to get his disability ID cards and I was able to save him the pain. But more importantly, I went against my initial reaction. Riding the Light Rail every day, walking through Baltimore every day, grates on you. Your guard is up at all times. Your head is on a swivel. You're always looking out for potential threats. This isn't to suggest that Baltimore is a terrible place. But I've learned though experience that being cautious is the best defense. A few murders and assaults in the immediate vicinity of the campus will do that to you. Being on guard 24/7 wears you down emotionally and physically. After a while, it becomes very easy to say "no" to everything.
But sometimes, you should do the right thing.