I think it was during 6th grade that I found the envelope of money on my way home from school and realized immediately that it was enough to purchase the PeeWee Reese shortstop glove I so dearly wanted from Tim and Tom's Sport Store on Central Avenue. 

When my Dad got home from work and I asked for a ride to the store, my Dad pointed out to me that this was likely someone's rent or grocery money, and he drove me to the local police station where we turned it in and left my name and phone number, amidst much embarrassing praise for my honesty.

Some weeks later, the police called to tell us that no one had come forward to claim the money so we could come by and pick it up. The next Saturday morning, he took me to the police station and we retrieved the envelope. On the way home, when I asked him to stop at Tim and Tom's so I could buy the glove, he asked: "How are you going to pay for it?"  

I spluttered something about the money in the envelope, but he made it clear that, not having done anything to earn the money, it was not mine to spend on myself. Instead, I was to pick a charitable organization and make a donation. I do not remember what group I picked, but I DO remember that he made sure I got paid for doing some chores over the next month until I had earned enough to purchase the much coveted glove. I also remember realizing even then, despite my frustration, that there was a difference between getting and earning.

Years later, when we talked about this event, he said that he was motivated by two things. First, that there is a slippery slope that leads from finding something on the street to 'finding' it on the front seat of an unlocked car, to 'finding' it after breaking into a house. And second, that the value of, and pleasure from, something earned is always greater than something found.

You may have moved on but you are still here, and through lessons like this, you will always still be with me. Thank you, Dad.



Links to more on this topic: