My houseguest and I were in East Hampton, NY this weekend and as we were walking to our local fish store to buy some fish for dinner we found $121.00 on the ground in the parking lot. Inside the fish store we thought we might have seen or heard a customer realizing their loss and if so would have returned them their money. Instead all was calm and no one there seemed at a loss. There was one gentleman there with a wad of cash that appeared to be in the hundreds (he was carrying it in a plastic baggie - how weird is that?) but upon leaving the store he did not walk in the direction of where the money was lying on the ground. At this point we used the found money to purchase two lobsters as well as some sushi quality tuna and splurged on a nice bottle of wine.
Should we have done more to locate the owner? Should we donate an equal amount to charity or should we just assume that whoever lost the money probably did not even notice it and enjoy our found luck?
Your ethically challenged nephew.
Dear Favorite Nephew:
I think I would feel best by advising the proprietor you had found the money but not revealed the amount and said that if anyone had reported the loss they could claim it by telling the amount of the loss and their address and phone number and you would contact them and return the money. Otherwise Jahweh would punish you.
How were the lobsters?
Dear Uncle Yoda,
You have proposed a very good idea as to how we could have handled it better and I agree. That said there is probably a reason we did not do that so here are some more facts: 1) the fish store is just one of many stores in the immediate vicinity; 2) talking to the proprietor of the fish store with any semblance of dignity or restraint is difficult, for example, when asked if his lobsters were from Maine, he loudly (for all to hear) replied "Get the fuck out of my shop." When asked if there was any significance to what looked like color coded rubber bands on the lobster claws he replied, "Yeah, the blue rubber bands are the gay ones". Subjecting ourselves to his potential ridicule was a very unappealing prospect. 3) the store was crowded.
PS, lest you get the wrong idea, I like the proprietor and find him pretty entertaining though a tad intimidating. Maybe not reason enough to have avoided reporting the found cash but I have always found it hard to be myself with certain personality types (e.g. people like the Soup Nazi of Seinfeld fame and Kenny Shopsin, owner of Shopsin's General Store in Manhattan and author of the book "Eat Me." as well as the subject of a documentary entitled "I like Killing Flies". For more on Mr. Shopshin see blog post at www.roughfractals.blogspot.com entitled "You Are Not So Terrific..." dated August 2, 2009.
Your Trying To Be A Mensch Nephew.
Dear Nephew Mensch,
I think Kenny Shopsin said it best:
"...Most people who say they are terrific, Bill Clinton, Cardinal Egan, anybody you want to talk about - they are not so terrific. Martha Stewart - not so terrific either. There is nothing wrong with not being so terrific. It's what the whole ball game is about - not being so terrific and accepting it."
I'd give it a rest at this point.
That thing about Jahweh is a little spooky. Yesterday my lobster eating houseguest got a flat tire. He jacked his car up to put on the spare but it being a hot day the jack started to sink into the pavement leaving his car perilously close to tipping over and his jack deeply imbedded in the asphalt. I drove (20 mins) with my car and jack to assist but when I arrived we realized that my jack did not fit because it would not go low enough (since his car was so low to the ground due to the now sunken jack). I then drove back to my house to get my other car which I speculated might have a differently configured jack). Approximately 45 mins later I arrived back (again) with my other jack and sure enough it fit perfectly (!!!) and we were able to not only raise the car but also to retrieve the imbedded-in-the-pavement original jack. We then put the spare tire on the wheel and guess what - the spare tire was flat (@#$%!). (Lesson: check the spare tire in your trunk to make sure it is inflated, today.)
Do you think Jahweh was punishing us for the lobster thing?
Your wondering if I need to atone Nephew.
Dear Atoning Nephew,
I am afraid no mere mortal can answer your question but you might want to lay low for a few days.
Apropos of lobster, you might enjoy the essay by David Foster Wallace entitled, "Consider The Lobster" published in Gourmet Magazine in which he described in great scientific detail the excruciating pain felt by lobsters when they are plunged into boiling water as they are cooked.
Yours for a Higher Ground.
PS. Please do not write to me any more and have you ever heard of Xanax?
Dear Uncle Higher Ground,
I have read the David Foster Wallace essay and all I can say is that while I do hold all life sacred, I kind of draw a line at the occasional crustacean dinner.
You will be pleased to know that I think Jahweh has made his point and is now going easy on me. Yesterday I returned my iPad to the Apple store (great machine but not for me - or as my son said when he heard I was returning it - "Dad, of course you returned it. It is heinous and all about mind control." To which I immediately replied "Exactly!" to my son's putting his finger so precisely on what was bothering me about the IPad but had been unable to articulate myself.)
Back to Jahweh, Apple charges a 10% restocking fee for returns (in this case $80). For some reason (and without my even asking) the store manager waived the restocking fee. And as if that wasn't enough, I also brought them my $179 iPpod that I had dropped in the pool and learned that the warranty does not cover water damage. Nonetheless (and again without asking) they replaced my iPod at no cost.
If you add all this up, since finding the cash, we (me and my houseguest collectively) are ahead of the game by two lobsters, one bottle of wine, one small sushi grade tuna steak, one waived restocking fee, and one iPod. In the negative column - only one flat tire and one flat spare tire (and they weren't even mine belonging to my houseguest whose handling of the whole flat tire course of events with what I would describe as great aplomb was (and I mean this in a good way) really fun (an example of what two Jewish men with measurably limited automotive emergency or repair related skills can accomplish if they put their heads together and have a lot of time of on their hands).
Perhaps this means that Jahweh is unconditionally loving and accepting of all his children (but especially those of us who have not bought into the whole Apple iPad bullshit)?
Over and Out.
Your relaxing (without Xanax) at the beach Nephew....