Atlantic Canada — In December, credit unions on the East Coast set up a test to determine the level of honesty of the average citizen. Twelve wallets filled with money, cards, receipts, bus passes and contact numbers were placed randomly in public locations throughout the Maritimes. People largely passed the test, as nine of twelve were returned.
“I wouldn’t have returned the wallet if I knew they were gonna guilt-trip me into donating the cash to a charity. Now that all my bills are coming due I could really use that money. Stupid, stupid!” lamented one of the experiment’s subjects, James Peabody of Geary, N.B.
“I was raised to believe honesty would always be rewarded,” said another wallet-finder, Darla Smith of Halifax, N.S. “So I returned the wallet sort of assuming the person who lost it would give me something. Then the credit union people were like, ‘It’s up to you, but just know that other people who found wallets donated the cash to charity and wanted nothing for themselves. That’s optional, of course, but it’s something to keep in mind.’
“Obviously at that point I couldn’t say, ‘Nah, I’ll keep the cash,’ even though I reaaallly wanted to. What a rip.”
Summerside resident Mark Allaby found a wallet, and his children encouraged him to return it.
“Easy for them to say — they have, like, zero day-to-day expenses,” he said. “But to be a good example I did return it, and then the kids demanded we donate the money to the SPCA. The kids wanted to bring the cash to the animal shelter themselves, and then they somehow guilted me into adopting a dog!
“So now,” he went on, exasperated, “because I returned that damned wallet I have a Great Dane and steep vet bills. If you find one of the last three wallets, don’t return it — trust me!”
The Manatee managed to track down the other three wallets, as our reporters were the ones who happened to stumble upon them. Our team used the money to buy lotto tickets and smokes and renew our Netflix subscriptions.
All of the people who passed the test say they’re left wondering “what might have been” if they’d just kept the wallet and shut up.