When my son was about six or seven, I took him to his first baseball game, a Brevard Manatees exhibition game. Along about the sixth inning, we were getting fairly hungry and headed down to the concessions booths. We were about fourth or fifth in line when my son announced, “Hey dad, somebody dropped a dollar.”
Space Coast Stadium, Melbourne, Florida
I looked down, and between our feet was a dollar bill, folded twice. I told him, “Go ahead and pick it up.” So he bent down and picked up the bill.
“Dad, should I ask the man in front of us if he dropped it?” he asked. I admired his desire for honesty, but I explained to him a micro-lesson in human behavior: If you offer a person something of value, and ask, ‘Is this yours?’ an unscrupulous person will always say ‘yes’ and take your offering, even if it’s not honestly theirs. I told him a better way would be to wait and see what happens when the man pulls his money out to pay. If he notices he is missing money, he will start looking around for it. Then is a good time to offer the money you found to him.
We waited through several customers, and none seemed to be missing money, so after about five minutes or so, I told my son he could keep the dollar. We returned to our seats. We sat down and he unfolded the bill and said, “Dad, it’s not a dollar — it’s twenty dollars!” Then he quickly added, “I think I’m gonna like baseball.”