Yesterday I was walking back to work after lunch when I cut in front of a bus stop on the sidewalk. There, lying on the ground in front of me was a $10 bill.
My first thought was that it was just a buck, but when I noticed it was a ten, the calculations running through my mind changed abruptly. $10 is a rare find.
At the same time I noticed the money, I noticed the lone occupant of the bus stop. He was an older guy who was sitting on the bench with a luggage cart full of stuff in front of him. I didn't get much more info than that in my quick glance so I don't really know if he was homeless, traveling, or had just been shopping. But I did see that the cart was blocking the $10 from his line of sight.
Had the guy not been there, there would have been no internal debate. I would have picked up the bill and continued on, $10 richer. But the guy changed the calculation again. If it was his $10, then there might be a confrontation. Or, it could be embarrassing if he saw what I was doing. Maybe it was a prank to see if someone would go for the money. (Yes, I am a bit paranoid.) Suddenly, a witness or potential competitor made the whole enterprise more uncertain.
In an instant, the decision was made and I walked on without taking the money. I decided that I'm pretty fortunate in life and could live without the $10. The odds were pretty good that someone less fortunate than me would find it and it would mean more to them than it would have to me.
At least I hope so.