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Lost and found.

It is not known if the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes ever found the "honest man" for whom he searched, but if someone were to resume that quest today, the Kalispell/Whitefish area of Montana might be a good place to start. For instance:

* On November 22 of last year, Kalispell resident Carmen Williams and her boyfriend, Jake Jensen, were preparing to leave for California the next day to attend college when, near a money drop outside First Interstate Bank on the city's main street, Williams virtually stumbled across a deposit bag. It contained $14,622 belonging to the nearby Wal-Mart where the couple had just been shopping. An armored car courier working for Security Armored Express (SAE) had inadvertently dropped the bag while transporting a deposit from Wal-Mart to the bank.

Williams and Jensen could have used the money, since their tight budget precluded even renting a truck for their move to California. Williams admits that it was tempting, but told the next day's Kalispell Daily Inter Lake, "I believe what goes around comes around. I would have felt guilty keeping it." The pair flagged down a Flathead County deputy sheriff who was driving by at the time and gave the bag and its contents to him. He, in turn, returned it to Wal-Mart.

A few months earlier, Wal-Mart had recognized SAE as its best armored carrier in the country. SAE president Bryan Sandrock told the Inter Lake that "making this type of mistake is not consistent with the services that earned that award, and we sincerely apologize to Wal-Mart." The Associated Press quoted him on November 26 as saying of Williams and Jensen, "We are delighted to be part of a community with such fine and upstanding citizens." He said that SAE was trying to contact the couple "to provide them a reward for their honorable actions." A few days later, the couple received $1,000 from the security firm.

Wal-Mart spokesperson Sharon Weber told the December 11 Inter Lake that her company was pleased that Williams and Jensen had been rewarded for having "acted out of true integrity. We're just really tickled to have honest people." SAE had, she noted, insisted that it provide the reward, rather than Wal-Mart, since SAE "wanted to step up to the plate."

* On the afternoon of April 5, another Kalispell resident (who has opted to remain anonymous) was driving along a rural Kalispell road when pieces of paper suddenly began fluttering around his car in such copious amounts that he turned on the windshield wipers. Since some of the litter appeared to be currency, he stopped to gather some, and soon retrieved thousands of dollars from the traffic lane and a nearby borrow pit. He also came across a pair of men's shoes and picked them up as well. Instead of keeping the money, he went directly to the Kalispell Police Department and gave it (and the shoes) to authorities.

When police Detective Jim Brenden examined the shoes, he found another large stash of cash concealed beneath the insole of one. He did not reveal the amount, due to the continuing investigation, but did tell reporters that it led investigators to "have some suspicions about the origins of the money."

If the cash can be tied to illegal activity, police can seize it. If not, and it remains unclaimed for six months, the honest man who found it can keep it.

* And finally, Gary Ohs of Montana's Whitefish area (some 15 miles north of Kalispell) intended to deposit some $9,000 in cash at his bank on June 30. He placed his reading glasses and the envelope containing the money on top of his car. Apparently distracted by other chores, he eventually drove away with the money and spectacles still atop the vehicle. Only when be arrived at the bank did he reach for his glasses and realize that they--and the money--were missing.

The glasses could be easily replaced, but as he drove back home he became resigned to the likelihood that he would never see the money again. After be told his wife about the faux pas, however, she persuaded him to report the loss to the Flathead County Sheriff's Office.

In the meantime, yet another honest area resident (who also remains anonymous) found the money and the glasses on a road near Whitefish and promptly turned them in to sheriff's deputies.

When informed of the find, the disbelieving Ohs rushed to retrieve them. He was able to precisely identify not only the denominations of the bills, but the imprimatur of the bank on the envelope which held them. His glasses were the clincher, however, as he not only described them, but provided authorities with the lens prescription. A detective took the glasses and the prescription to an optometrist, who confirmed the match.

On July 2, the money, the glasses and their grateful owner were reunited.
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Title Annotation:The Goodness Of America
Author:Lee, Robert W.
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 20, 2004
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