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    Musing: An Exercise in Honesty

    It happened while I was working out on an elliptical at my local Y. Sweating. Grunting. Groaning. Getting absolutely nowhere. The gist of exercise.

    It’s not all bad. My Y has a great setup for ellipticals. They face a wall of windows overlooking a small park filled with cheerful people. Strolling along the paths hand in hand. Sitting on a bench reading a book. Listening to the birds sing. Enjoying the great outdoors.

    Sort of the opposite of sweating, grunting, groaning, and getting absolutely nowhere inside a crowded gym with other people doing the same thing.

    The ellipticals occupy the second row. Treadmills line the first row right up against the glass. Normally, they are filled with people walking, jogging, or running, but on this day, the beautiful autumn weather enticed most of them outside. Sure, they were still sweating, grunting, and groaning, but, outside, they went somewhere, even if it was just a giant circle on our greenway.

    There I was, slogging along, when a young man stepped up to the treadmill in front of me. He extended his arm to settle his water bottle into the cup holder, but paused with a puzzled look on his face. He reached into the hole and extracted a handful of coins. A few dollars, at least, based on the number of quarters I saw.

    But that wasn’t all. After setting his water bottle on the floor, he scooped more coins out. And more. And still more.

    Finally, he held enough money for a meal or two. Quite the find.

    That was intriguing enough, but it’s what happened next that surprised me. He didn’t look around to see who was watching. It didn’t matter to him who knew what he did with the found loot. He simply did what came naturally to him. He walked across the gym floor to the employee station and gave the cash to a trainer. He then returned to his treadmill and exercised, not another thought to the money he could have pocketed.

    Even though a few weeks have passed since I witnessed this event, I can’t tell you what happened to the found treasure. Did the rightful owner return and claim it? Did it get passed on to a charitable cause? Did the employee pocket it? Did it go into a cash box at the Y and get used for some other purpose? 

    What I know is the man, without anyone’s knowledge, simply did the right thing. He didn’t do it for recognition or reward. He did it because it was right. 

    You might think he’s an exception, but research says that isn’t true. In a huge study involving 17,000 wallets left in 40 countries around the world, 71% of wallets with a hundred dollars cash were returned with the money intact. In fact, they found that the more money involved, the more likely the finder would seek the owner. Only empty wallets were returned less than half the time. 

    Unfortunately, what we see on the news and hear on social media tells us about the bad in the world. Most people, though, are good. Honest. Trustworthy. What I witnessed may have surprised me, but he did exactly what most people do in that situation.

    This Thanksgiving week, I’m giving thanks for all the small acts of compassion humans do every day. Returning lost cash. Holding doors. Letting people merge in heavy traffic. Picking up litter.

    It certainly makes life a little better knowing kind people exist.

    I doubt that man will ever read this musing. He never indicated that he knew I saw what he did. If he finds out, I hope he knows he made my day a little brighter.

    I might still have been sweating, grunting, groaning, and getting absolutely nowhere, but I was doing it with a smile on my face and warmth in my soul.

    If you’re in the U.S., I hope you, your family, and your friends have a terrific Thanksgiving. No matter where you are, pay attention to those doing the right thing around you. And do a little act of kindness for someone else. It makes the world better.


    Enjoyed the Story? Try a Short Story

    Secrets, passions, and a reunion that changes everything

    Benjamin Walsh sees his wife, Nicole, walking down a city street. With her busy schedule at work, he doesn’t know how she found time to get away, but tries to catch up to say hello.

    To his surprise, she greets an old friend of hers, Eduardo Rivera. Eduardo left town two decades earlier to pursue a theatrical career in New York. What is he doing back?

    Benjamin is shocked when Eduardo and Nicole embrace. They disappear through a door together. With understanding of what is happening, Benjamin realizes he has only one choice.

    Publication Date: February 6, 2024

    Format: E-book (EPUB, MOBI, PDF)

    Pages: 38

    Price: Pay what you want (Minimum 99¢ to cover processing costs)


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      May you, your friends, and family have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

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      3 Comments

      1. Jean Burkhardt on November 20, 2023 at 1:52 pm

        It always makes me happy to see people do good deeds. Warms the heart!!!! Happy Thanksgiving All!!!!

      2. Fay Bach on November 20, 2023 at 1:54 pm

        Enjoyed your Musing today, I’ve actually enjoyed them all ! Being a Canadian, our Thanksgiving was last month, but do wish all Americans a very Happy
        Thanksgiving, !

      3. Marion on November 20, 2023 at 6:48 pm

        There are many among us who are honest & thoughtful of others throughout the world. Unfortunately there are some who undo much of the good deeds. I am in Australia where I just turned 91. I know this world is the better for the many acts of kindness we do unknown to others. Enjoy your Thanksgiving Day.

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