don't try to be self-righteous, or even all that righteous. I'm
not usually one to tell others what to do or how to live, but there
are those times when it seems you truly must stand up and demand
that a friend make a worthy choice.
-------When I was in college, video
games became very popular. It seemed as though people from every
conceivable social strata were dropping quarters into these electronic
marvels in endless streams. My friend and I were no exception. We
jumped on the "Space Invader" bandwagon in a big way.
-------Following a rather lengthy session
of "Galaxian," my friend and I, cross-eyed and quarterless,
realized it was time to leave. As we made our way toward the exit,
my companion found a twenty-dollar bill lying on the floor amongst
a small pile of credit card receipts. He picked it up and put it
in his pocket and gleefully headed toward the exit. Feeling uneasy
about the turn of events I raced ahead of him and asked to see the
receipts. They were unmistakably marked with the name "Hugh
-------I tried to rationalize with
my friend, explaining that it was quite obvious that the twenty-dollar
bill belonged to Mr. Moore. I knew it would take very little time
or effort to locate the gentleman. I tried to use this idea in explaining
that we had a moral obligation to return the pile of paper to its
-------My friend’s stance was
firm. There was no guarantee that the bill belonged to Mr. Moore
just because it found its way to the floor in a pile of receipts
bearing his name . . . besides, "Finders keepers, losers weepers."
Our banter went on for quite some time. I tried to appeal to his
softer, rational side. It became increasingly more evident that
this side of my friend was all but lost in this particular moment.
All that was revealed to me were his stubborn, selfish, and unreasonable
determination. As we stood on the steps just outside the building
I felt my own fortitude rise to the occasion. Matching him wit to
wit, I flatly refused to move from our location until he made a
gesture toward an attempt at locating one Hugh Moore.
-------For what seemed like hours we
stood at the doorway, receiving a multitude of strange looks from
patrons as they arrived or left the building. I tried to use our
subject's name in the argument at every opportunity in the hopes
that an eavesdropping Hugh Moore might be making his exit. I was
now willing to do almost anything to foil my friend's plan. My insistence
turned to anger when my friend crossed that proverbial "line
in the sand." In one statement he simultaneously admitted he
was wrong and boldly expressed a delight in this position. "Hugh
Moore just donated twenty dollars to my bank account!"
-------As I began considering alternatives
to his car for my transportation home, he came to realize I was
serious in my refusal to leave our location. His position began
to weaken slightly. I sensed a willingness to avoid the impending
discomfort and strike some form of compromise. Finally, on the principle
that he'd feel better in having done the honorable thing he agreed
to at least ask the front desk if anyone had reported the loss.
I knew my friend well. I knew he had rationalized that he would
quickly and nonchalantly ask the cashier at the snack bar, then
go merrily on his way, having fulfilled my request. He knew no one
ever reported that they had lost cash. Feeling somewhat victorious
I led the way. As we approached the snack bar area we came upon
the location of my friend's discovery. I saw a man whom I recognized
seated at a game. Only days earlier we had made comments about his
frequent visits to the arcade. As we walked down the aisle beside
the game he had been playing I noticed him standing as if to leave.
He checked his shirt pocket, displayed a startled expression, and
frantically looked at the floor surrounding him. My eyes lit up
and I darted toward him. "Sir, is your name Hugh Moore?"
------ "Yes" he replied with
a look of question on his brow.
-------I turned and addressed my friend
who trailed nearby. "I'd like you to meet Hugh Moore."
-------It would be most difficult to
describe the look that flashed on my friends face in that instant.
Simultaneously I saw utter disappointment, feelings of bum luck,
futility, a hint of relief, an embarrassed laughter, a touch of
warmth and satisfaction, emptiness..., all of which seemed to sum
it up, as if to say "Wouldn't you know?!" Feeling the
totality of the moment, my friend chose not to speak, so I explained
the situation to a most grateful Mr. Moore. He didn't have to know
the turn of events that lead us to him. My friend was his honest
and forthright hero for the moment.
-------As we walked to the car I noticed
my friend’s emotions changing. I shared with him my opinion
that he knew he'd have felt miserable if he had left with Mr. Moore's
money in tow. Agreeing with me, he began to laugh about the situation
as we both poked fun at his stubbornness and greed. With the lightness
of feeling associated with making the correct choice, we drove away,
still laughing at the evening’s events.
© 2004 - The Trill House