Encounters in a Bookstore #136: It’s Only Money and It’s Not Mine

On a typical day at the bookstore where I work, I’ll touch at least $1500 during a shift. Perhaps double that, if we’re talking Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. None of that matters, though, because none of that is money that I can take home with me.

But if there is money left unattended on, say, the floor, that cash is totally up for grabs. The person who rakes in most of it? Ken the maintenance man…though it’s likely the other maintenance dudes get their fair share.

Every Sunday Ken and I are scheduled to open, and every Sunday Ken’s take in floor change far surpasses my own. He tells me he has a jar for it at home, and that when he reaches $45 or $50, he takes himself out and gets something nice. Around Christmas, he uses it to buy a tree. He was considering a rug the other month—things like that. This past Sunday I think he rolled in $.64. I recall finding two pennies in the break room.

There was one day, though, one day when the heavens aligned and showered two $20 bills on the floor in front of my cash register. The heavens also deemed it possible that the customers who found that easy forty were honest types that handed it across the counter to me, in case the careless (or frazzled) person who dropped it came back in a tizzy.

I took the forty dollars. I held it in my right hand, then my left, then both. The well-meaning customers departed. I put a paper clip around the money, and considered my options.

Gut: slip it in my pocket and play dumb if anyone came looking. I could go out drinking after work!

Swayed by the goodness of those who handed it to me: give it to the head cashier to put in the safe in case someone comes a-lookin’. Wait the appropriate thirty days, and then demand the money.

I’m sorry to say that I was swayed.

Happily, several weeks later no one has come to claim the money, and it’s mine within another fourteen days. And I got to brag to Ken, although he thinks it’s pretty dumb that I turned it in.

Unclaimed forty aside, our eyes remain on the floor. Dimes add up too, friends.

Liz Mathews composes ads for many things science fiction and fantasy. Her writing can be found in magazines, catalogs, newspapers, brochures, and books; and on bookmarks, postcards, cable television commercials, and even doorhangers all across the United States and in some parts of Canada. She lives in Brooklyn but considers the cornfields of Iowa home.