Daughter #2 called me a few weeks ago. “So Mom, I have a story for you!” I love a story.
She went on to tell me that a man walked into the building where she works carrying a guitar and asked if there was anybody there who played one and might be interested in buying it. He said that it had been his father’s and it wasn’t being used. She really wasn’t in the market for a guitar, but asked to see it anyway. It was a nice looking Gibson guitar, so just out of curiosity she asked how much. He said he needed the cash so he would let it go for $45. “Forty-five?” Yes, that’s forty-five dollars. She wasn’t even sure if it was genuine, but at that price, she bought it.
After making a few calls and sending around a few photographs, she discovered the guitar was indeed a Gibson and worth at least $1000. Yes, that’s one thousand dollars. She figured she might be able to sell it. But there was a nagging suspicion that it was probably stolen.
Musicians encompass a significant number of our family and friends, including some serious guitar players, all who would be devastated if one of their instruments was stolen. As much as it was tempting to either keep the Gibson or turn it over for a quick profit, she knew it was just not the right thing to do. My children have a moral compass regarding these kinds of things. So she called the local police first to find out if anyone had reported a missing guitar. They were surprised that anyone would bother to report such a thing; indeed it was pretty much unheard of to have anyone return stolen property and especially a guitar, at least in their precinct. Usually an instrument would end up in a pawn shop or just vanish. However, nobody had reported a missing guitar, so she figured she just had gotten lucky.
The excitement didn’t last very long though, as a few hours later a detective called her back. The guitar had just been reported stolen from a hotel where a music event was going on, by a guy who was from out of state. He had decided not to lock up his instrument with the others in an area the hotel had provided and instead chose to leave it in his room, where it was subsequently taken. He stated he had paid $3000 (yes, that’s three thousand dollars) for this guitar, which was a Gibson ES-339.
She dutifully brought the guitar to the detectives, who returned it to the owner when he came back for it later that evening. They supplied him with her name and address, suggesting he might at least reimburse the $45 she had paid for the guitar, if not also a reward for her efforts and honesty. Actually, even a thank you note would have been appreciated, but he never even bothered to contact her. Pathetically, I was not surprised that he did not acknowledge her good deed.
This pushed some of my mother buttons. I felt like writing this ungrateful jerk and telling him off. I wished I had his name, because I probably would have outed him on social media for being a thankless dolt. In a way I was suddenly a tiny bit sorry that she just hadn’t gone ahead sold the thing in the first place. As the police said, almost anybody else would have. But of course, that would have been wrong. I guess I raised them right.
Following this event, Daughter #2 reports that she found $20 in her pocket (even though it was her own money) and won a raffle later on during the week, which seems to have (mostly) satisfied her as far as karma goes, although she does wish she had her forty-five dollars back.
Update: Well, there is now a conclusion to this story. Daughter #2 was called in to testify before a grand jury. She was not happy about this development, as not only was she out forty-five dollars but now was also going to miss a day of work and the pay that went with it. She was beginning to wonder about where “doing the right thing” had taken her. She was also a bit anxious about what or who she would see there that day, this being a first in her experiences.
When she arrived at court, the owner of the stolen guitar was there. After sharing a detailed story of the guitar, a rather remarkable story how he came to own it and what it had been through, he said he had not been given any information in order to get in touch with her. He thanked her profusely and offered a reward that pretty much covered her lost day of work, her $45 initial outlay, and then some. And he turned out to be not a thankless dolt at all. It was a happy ending which restored perhaps a tiny bit of my faith in people, and also caused me to look inward at my own perceptions. You never know…..