To Give Back or to Receive

On Saturday afternoon in Hurst, TX, my husband and I decide to eat lunch at the mall before heading to Austin for a show that night. Russ notices a small Coach bag in the parking lot. He picks it up and jokingly says “I found a bag full of money”. He opens the purse and in it he discovers it was not a joke, there was nearly $400… $380 cash to be exact plus a debit card, several Christmas lists, an insurance card and a pen. I immediately look around for John Stossel of 20/20. Are they doing another story where they “plant” handbags and other valuables to see what percentage of the American population will turn them in? We stand on the corner for a minute waiting for the owner of the bag to come running up, thanking us profusely for finding and saving their bag. But no such event occurred. So we walk into the restaurant and order our lunch. In the meantime I look in her bag and pull out her Chase debit card. I call the 800 on the back and call. I ask the customer service rep to contact Ana and let her know that I found her bag, The person at Chase attempts to call her but informs me that the number that they have for the purse owner is not connecting and apparently no longer valid. For a gift item, the selection of luxury handbags can be done. A visit can be made at to know about different designs for the bags, Proper information should be gathered for the purchase with checking the good reviews. 

We leave the restaurant and head home with the bag in hand. What is the right thing to do? Well, we could hand it over to mall security. But how do you know you can trust the security at the mall? After all, there is $400 cash here, what if no one claims it….then what happens? What about the police? They are human after all. We decide to hold on the bag for now.

Russ’ band is playing a show in Austin and it is nearly 5PM, we have to get on the road if we are going to make it in time. We arrive in Austin around 8, he plays a great show then we spend the night. 9am Sunday morning, we are on the road back home. We arrive back in Dallas around noon. Once we get home, I start to do a bit of investigating. I Google the name on the drivers license. I Google the address. I make a few phone calls. Apparently this person has a common name. She is not the only Ana M. in Fort Worth. I start to wonder what is my obligation here? I made several very solid attempts at connect, to do the right thing.

Russ and I decide we are going to go to the address on her drivers license and deliver her purse to her. We drive nearly 25 miles and knock on several incorrect doors. We are starting to feel that our “above and beyond” approach is going to far. After all, WHO in this world would be going to the lengths that we are to return CASH to a stranger? We finally find the correct building and the correct apartment and knock on the door. And knock on the door. And knock on the door. After no answer we write a note to leave on the door….”We found your purse, please call us”. As we are walking away the door of the apartment opens and a young blond girl opens the door…. clearly NOT the Ana Morales that is pictured on the license. We speak for a few minutes and learn that this is a new tenant and apparently Ana no longer lives in this apartment. She suggests that we speak to the apartment office, maybe Ana left a forwarding address.

So, frustrated after another failed attempt, we approach the office. We explain to the man behind the desk that Ana was a former tenant and we found her handbag. He pulls her file to locate the forwarding phone number and makes a call. We hear only his side of the conversation…”Ana, this is so-and-so from so-and-so apartments. “There is a couple standing in my office now that says that they found your purse in the parking lot of Northeast Mall and they tracked you down to here from your drivers license……” The man from the apartments looks up at us and mouths to us “She is crying”.

Russ gets on the phone and she tells him that she was praying that someone with a good heart or someone who really needed the money found the purse. Russ gives her our address and arranges to meet at our house within the hour to return the bag…. Ana was clearly moved.

We are heading home to meet Ana at about 80 mph when the front right tire blew. Thank God Russ was behind the wheel. While I braced myself and adequately freaked out, Russ safely and professionally slowed us down and pulled us over to the side of the road with a flat. We were on the shoulder along side the fast lane, so cars were zooming by us and we definitely felt our safety was in question. I got out of the car by ways of crawling though the back seat and Russ changed the tire and as I hoped an prayed we would not get side-swiped or rear ended by speeding passer-byers

Then I thought, what the heck is this? We drive 25 miles out of our way to return some CASH to a total stranger and this is what we get? On the way home we get a flat tire on the freeway? Then I remembered to be thankful. We just returned from Austin, I am grateful we did not get a flat tire in Austin many miles from home, when I was behind the wheel or when it was raining on Friday night. I am very thankful that Russ was driving when the blow out occurred so he could calmly get us to safety. Although it was an unfortunate situation, it could have been a lot worse; there is a lot to be thankful for…

We finally get home and Ana arrives at our house to retrieve her bag. She walks in the front door and makes small talk at first. She cries and thanks us again. She tries to had Russ some cash as a reward or thank you and we both say “no!”. She says, “Please take it for your time and gas”. We don’t accept it and she leaves with a Merry Christmas and God Bless.

I am glad that Russ and I were the people that found her bag and were able to return it to her….especially the week before Christmas. it felt good to give this stranger a hug and say “you’re welcome”. I can only hope that someone would/will do the same for us some day. While we made jokes about what we could buy with the $380 we found, we felt very good about returning the money to rightful owner and doing the right thing. I definitely felt better to “give” the money back to Ana than anything we would have “received” with it.