I Lost My Bag Full Of Cash, Man Is Nice Enough To Return It Three Years Later

Rebecca lost a bag chock full of cash, credit cards and camera equipment on a dirt road in Mississippi three years ago. So she was figuring she probably wouldn’t be getting that back, ever — after all, who finds a bag of cash and returns it to the rightful owner years after they find it? Turns out one man is just that kind of good Samaritan.

Rebecca wrote in with her extraordinary tale, which starts in November 2008 while she was working for an outdoor active travel company as a trip leader. She explains that she’s often in a hurry, trying to pack up a van full of cyclists or hikers to get to the next activity. On the day in question, they’d had along 75-mile ride, heading toward a historic plantation.

I had been riding on a bike with our guests that day while my friend, Courtney, supported us in the van. We got to our final shuttle stop about 20 miles outside of town. It was getting dark and anyone still behind this point was not going to make it in. We hurriedly stripped my and the other riders’ bikes of all bags and water bottles. We threw the bikes on the roof, hopped in the van, and hurried to beat the front riders into the hotel. It was a day we were proud to have finished without a hitch.

As we got to the manor we redistributed all of our guest’s belongings and I noticed that my bags were missing. My heart sunk into the pit of my stomach as I recalled carelessly throwing them off of my bike and onto the ground behind the van.

Living a life on the road I carry very few material possessions, and I had just lost them all. In my Camelback was my wallet: IDs, personal credit/debit cards, corporate credit card, business cards of vendors, petty cash receipts, and about $800 in cash. The bike bag held my other most valuable possessions — my bike tools and my camera with irreplaceable pictures from the last few months. Needless to say, tears began to sting my eyes and my chest grew tight as I fought to hold them back.

I jumped into the van and drove back to our spot trying to hold in the tears by reassuring myself that it would all be there. The bags were gone, I called Courtney and couldn’t hold it in anymore, I lost it. I allowed myself to be upset the entire van ride back to the hotel. The next day I filed a report with the park and with the Natchez police. There was nothing else I could do.

On the morning of January 10, 2012 I heard my phone ringing from far away. I chose to ignore it since if it had been someone I knew, my phone speaks the caller’s name. The message was from Mr. D.T. of Natchez, Miss., something about a package. Having blocked the incident out of my memory, I did not immediately make the connection. After being reminded of it by my boyfriend I anxiously dialed the number. He was right. D.T. had both of my bags.

D.T. had driven by them that evening and threw them into his pick-up truck. He knew they must have belonged to “the people driving around with all those bikes on the roof” and figured he would see us around town. One would assume in a town as small as Natchez you could locate a 15-passenger van hauling a large trailer with room for 12 bikes on each, but our season was over and we were off to Salt Lake City two days later.

Also living in a small town D.T. figured he would read about it in the police reports. He hadn’t found anything of use in the bag (I kept my wallet crammed at the bottom of the camelback underneath my coat and my hydration pack), so he threw it in his “utility” (storage unit) and forgot about it. On the 10th he came across it again and was about to throw it out, but luckily decided he would look inside one last time. With more digging he found my wallet, inside of that he found my business card, and with that my cell phone number.

I faxed D.T. a letter with my current address and asked that he also include his so that I could thank him properly and reimburse him for shipping. My package arrived less than a week later with a note from DT apologizing for not finding me sooner. What an amazingly sweet man, with a good heart.

I have not decided how to thank D.T. for returning my bags. Money seems to be the easiest and most obvious answer and from the few conversations I have had with him he does not strike me as the type to expect or possible even accept a reward. To be honest a check feels somewhat cheap compared to the kindness, honesty, and pure heartedness he has shown me.

What do you say, fair Consumerist readers? Doing someone else a great kindness can be a reward in itself, and from the sound of it, D.T. is just the kind of person who would only expect the same treatment in a similar situation. But then again, money is money.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Coffee says:

    That’s a great story that warms the cockles of my heart. It has nothing to do with Consumerism, but it’s nice to read about on my first day back to work.

  2. deathbecomesme says:

    Send him the cash. If he wants to send some back he can/will

  3. Rob says:

    A thank you letter and a gift certificate to a local establishment sounds like just the thing.

  4. crashfrog says:

    It would probably be crass to offer a cash reward after the fact, but there are other ways to express your thanks – write it in a personal letter, then write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper expressing your thanks to the local man who found and returned your possessions. Respect his privacy (as you did in this submission) and don’t mention him by name, but nobody dislikes a little public gratitude.

    Send him a Christmas card next year so he knows he made an impression. Remember the relief that you received from a perfect stranger, and keep an eye out for opportunities to do the same for someone else. The greatest reward of altruism is the cultivation of altruism in others.

    • shalegac says:

      I like this.

      • JennQPublic says:

        I vote for this as well.

        Also, if you can, a cash reward. He may not want or expect it, but many people would still find it helpful. I would probably give him everything in the bag at the time, but that’s just me.

        And keep passing on the heartwarming story. We need the reminder that there really are a lot of good people in the world, they just tend to be quieter than the bad ones.

      • whogots is "not computer knowledgeable" says:

        Agreed, this is a good option. A thank you note now _and_ at least one Christmas card. An acknowledgement rather than a direct monetary reward.

  5. jvanbrecht says:

    Best way to thank him.. make your way there again and take him out for a dinner..

    • Optimistic Prime says:

      Exactly what I was thinking. If you’re in the neighborhood again, invite him along for a bike ride (gratis of course).

  6. Taed says:

    A nice “reward” might be to contact his local newspaper and see if they’d do a story on it, which would obviously praise him in his community.

  7. EugenS says:

    She should definitely give him some money reward – or maybe stuff he might need.

  8. ShreeThunderbird says:

    Never send cash through the mail! At the least should be recompensed for the shipping. He really should be rewarded as well. I’d probably send a postal money order for 10% of the value of what was returned. If you are ever in the area again take him to lunch.

  9. tuhughes says:

    My folks (who live in Vermont) have a nice way of handling things like this: they send a small bottle of maple syrup with a Thank You card. I think sending a written note with a small token of appreciation based on a regional product like that is a great way to go. If you don’t have an obvious local product like that, then a gift certificate to a local restaurant in his town seems like a decent option as well.

  10. Robert Nagel says:

    I have to wonder at the attitude that if you are not of value to me, as in an acquaintance, I will not respond to you. This person could have been a salesman, but that goes with life. Ignoring this person because of the perception that the OP is more important and does not need to show the courtesy of replying almost cost the OP her belongings.
    I noticed a car parked out front of work one day and since this is a popular dumping area fro stolen cars I looked further. I found a receipt for car repairs with a name and phone number on it. I called the person and his immediate response was “I’m on long distance, call back later”. Well it was a long distance call for me too, but I waited and called back later. Same response. The third time I broke in with “did you lose your car?”. The responder excitedly said that it was. Then I hung up.
    Courtesy can go a long way in this life.

    • Tegan says:

      I don’t think that not answering calls from an unknown number means that the OP thinks she is more important than anyone, and I don’t get why you think she should be obligated to spend time talking to any unknown person calling for an unknown reason. If I call someone and they don’t pick up the phone, I leave a message if it’s important. It doesn’t hurt my feelings.
      In your anecdote, I agree that the person on the other end was being very inconsiderate, but not giving them information about their stolen car is just spiteful.

      • Jules Noctambule says:

        I think it’s funny that one would be considered ‘obligated’ to spend oodles of time talking to someone whenever the phone rings. I don’t know about you, but when I answer the phone and it’s a wrong number/solicitor/whatever, I rarely spend more than a few seconds saying ‘Sorry, wrong number’ or ‘We don’t do business over the phone’ and hanging up. Considering how many unknown numbers have ended up being future clients calling regarding my business, I think it’s good practice not to assume that anyone calling is just going to be a hassle for you.

    • southpaw1971 says:

      Ah HAH! I knew there would be some possible way for a grumpy commenter to foist blame on the OP, no matter how heartwarming the story. You didn’t let me down.

    • hobochangbar says:

      Who is more douche, the douche, or the douche who acts like a douche in response to the douche?

    • nicless says:

      If you answer your phone every time it rings with a pleasing tone and an explanation of why you don’t need their service but appreciate their call, you probably should get out and make actual friends since the telemarketers are just in it for the money.

    • Rachacha says:

      Please post your phone number and I will have all of the unknown phone callse I receive forwarded to you. Feel free to keep any prizes or lost articles that I might receive as payment for having to answer all of the “spam” phone calls that I receive.

      Should the same courtesy about answering phone calls also apply to telemarketers actually placing the phone calls? I still have a landline at home, and I come home every day to see that I have missed 5 or more phone calls when I am at work, however, the only message I ever get is the sound of a dialtone when the robocaller hangs up.

      The OP acted appropriately. She did not recognize the phone number and screened the phone call. She received the call 3 years after losing her belongings, and had considered them gone for good and erased the loss from her memory. When she was reminded of the lost article, she returned the phone call and was polite to the caller.

    • Spaghettius! says:

      Some people don’t respond to calls from someone they don’t know. I adopted this policy recently as I’ve gotten a few calls from a guy I do not know, being very, very lewd. From now on, if I don’t know you, I don’t pick up. Coherent voicemails get a call back, the creepy mouth-breather who wants to know what I am wearing doesn’t.
      I am definitely more understanding of call screeners now.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

      I think you mean “along way”.

    • who? says:

      Why is some random stranger who’s calling on the phone more important to me than the live person standing right in front of me? If it comes up as an unknown number, I’ll always let it go to voice mail, and call back after they leave a voice mail.

      Nine out of 10 of those calls are some robocalling scam thing, anyway.

  11. wren337 says:

    if it’s a tiny town you could ask the mayors office if anyone knows him. maybe they could recommend something nice you could do for him. also I like the idea of adding him to your christmas card list.

  12. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    “Bag full of cash” to me requires it, at the very bare minimum, to be $1000 or more. $800 is a lot, no doubt, but not worthy of “bag full of cash” designation.

    • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

      $1 bills, perhaps?

    • dullard says:

      What is a “Bag full of cash” is all relative. To one person $800 might not seem like a lot. To another it may well be everything.

      By the way, I would also send a gift certificate for dinner for two at a nice restaurant local to the benefactor.

    • Optimistic Prime says:

      $800 covers my mortgage and utilities for a month, I’d be devastated to lose that much in one shot.

    • Costner says:

      Tell me about it… someone offered me a dime bag once and I was totally expecting a bag with one, or possibly more than one dime in it… boy was I in for a disappointment!

    • SabreDC says:

      I’m glad you’re here to define that for us. Tell me, am I eligible to run in the next election for that position? I’d be interested.

    • backinpgh says:

      To me “bag full of cash” simply requires that the bag have a dollar sign printed on it, a la old timey cartoons.

  13. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    If you really want to get him something, get something nice that he will want to keep, want to use, and that’s personalized so it can’t really be refused. Something that shows you put some thought into it.

    If he lives in Natchez, he has plenty of opportunities to go fishing. Get him a custom made fishing rod with his name on it. Search the web, focus on medium to medium-heavy spinning rods, find plenty of really nice ones for around $100-150.

  14. RyanK80 says:

    A heartfelt thank you letter is first and (obviously) mandatory. I like the one reader’s comments, too, saying that you should try to make your way out there again and thank him for his amazing gesture with a nice dinner or something.

    If that is not an option, and you do not think he would accept part of the cash back, then I would tell him that you plan to give a portion of it to charity, and ask him to pick the charity. That way he knows that part of the money is going to a good cause, and also shows that you are returning the favor of his beneficence.

  15. Tim says:

    Fruit-of-the-month subscription, maybe? My family got that a few years back when my dad (a doctor) took care of someone throughout an entire flight from Italy after he almost had a heart attack.

  16. Straspey says:

    Here’s what the OP might want to do – (IOW – what I myself might do)

    Get in touch with the local news media down there in the community where MR. D.T. lives and pass this story on to them. Try to arrange to speak directly with a reporter who would be interested in this type of “human-interest” story.

    Tell them you’d like to arrange to return to Natchez and thank Mr. D.T. in person. Perhaps the TV station would be willing to help set up MR. D.T. with a surprise visit from you, where you can thank him in person in front of his family, friends and the local community.

    One of the greatest rewards anyone can receive is the recognition from his peers for a job well done. You can alway take him out to dinner down there – but this would make it really wonderful.

    That’s what I would do in a case like this.

    • JennQPublic says:

      Inviting the media into someone’s life is a poor way to repay them for kindness. Not everyone enjoys being made the center of attention.

      • tbax929 says:

        I agree. I would not want media attention, and I’d be surprised if this kind man would, as well. You shouldn’t assume everybody wants to be in the public eye.

        I think a nice, hand-written note, and a gift card to a popular local establishment would be the best way to go in this situation.

  17. janeslogin says:

    My family came from a place similar to Natchez, Miss and I would say they were rather goofy. I wouldn’t begin to guess what my father would have done if you attempted to reward him for something he felt he should do. If “D.T.” is a religious person, as many there are, give the reward to their church. Otherwise, I am clueless, and I’ve been there.

  18. Lyn Torden says:

    Did any of the pictures in the camera come out OK? Worthy of making prints from? Are they generic of scenes from Natchez that local people would appreciate. Maybe one option is to make a wall mountable print of a few scenes from D.T. home town and send those as a gift. But some thought into it like that.

  19. Kestris says:

    With the economy the way it is, send him cash. That’s something anyone can readily use right now.

  20. czechyoself says:

    Wait, tell me again why he didn’t thoroughly check the bag when he first found it? It sounds like he did the bare minimum — hoping to happen upon a solution in the most passive manner. I mean, he didn’t even call the police or parks department to check for a report on the missing bag. In the end it all worked out, but seriously?

  21. brinkman says:

    Load up a Suze Orman cash card and send it his way.

  22. backbroken says:

    Happy ending.

    Oh, I meant that as a suggestion for the reward. Not as a description of the story.

  23. Not Given says:

    If someone sicced the media on me I would shoot them. Send the guy a money order for 10% plus his shipping expenses.

  24. Beefsteak says:

    Send him money you cheap bastard. How much did you get back? Don’t you think he deserves at least half of the money that was returned. Or do you normally just throw your bags on the side of random dirt roads and expect them to be returned intact to you?
    “from the few conversations I have had with him he does not strike me as the type to expect or possible even accept a reward.” – never understood peoples thinking on this. So you would give a reward to this person if theyre expecting/demanding it, but you would short a person who isn’t pushy and just wants to do a good deed?

  25. BooBee says:

    3 year later and you didn’t miss the cash. I’d send back half the cash he returned.

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      That’s one hell of an assumption.

      • BooBee says:

        He could have kept the full $800, maybe that would have been better for him. Then she would have never seen a dime. Maybe I’m zealous with my generosity which isn’t shared by others except on Christmas when others are probably motivated by the hope of news publicity therefore the generosity is not generosity but selfishness.

    • msbask says:

      I agree, send him half. You got along this long without it, you’ll survive.

  26. jeni1122 says:

    Wow. Good karma all around.

  27. Mooneyes says:

    I also think that if you have good photos from the local area that it would be a nice gift. Natchez is quite beautiful.

  28. Murph1908 says:

    Find out what he likes to do. Get him a gift related to that. If he’s a fisherman, go to Bass Pro Shops or something. Ask someone there who might know (maybe even a customer) what kind of thing would likely be appreciated by a fisherman, and you don’t know what he already has.

    I’d say most hobbies have a consumable item that needs replaced often. For golf, you might get him a couple dozen Pro-V balls. That’s something I’d never buy for myself, but would enjoy playing a few rounds with.

  29. MaryK says:

    Donate the cash he sent back to a charity (local one even) in his name as a way of saying “Thank you”.

  30. Beauzeaux says:

    Send him a Harry & David gift basket. Fruit, cheese, candy, something for everyone. It’s not money but it is appreciation he can eat and share. (It’s my go-to for helpful nice people.)

  31. cruiseyone says:

    Great story!

    Send D.T. a heartfelt thank you card with a gift card to the nicest restaurant near his home.

    Nothing more is required.

  32. miss_j_bean says:

    She already thought the bag was a loss, send him half of the cash, pay his kindness forward. :) That is what I would do.

  33. Cyfun says:

    Get Consumerist to post an article on it. Karma complete!

  34. frugalmom says:

    Am I really the only person who wonders why he didn’t ever tell the local police about finding the bags? Maybe before just shoving them into his storage locker?

  35. impatientgirl says:

    Yep, thank you letter and gift card for a nice dinner and movie out. A gift card is more likely to be accepted than a check.

  36. msbask says:

    Am I only the only one who thinks that dinners, and fishing poles, finding out what he likes (from who??), and accolades in the newspaper are…. dumb? Just send the guy cash if you want to reward him. It’s one size fits all, and the perfect gift for a stranger!

  37. Sedennial says:

    How about send him some flowers, and a check along with a nicely hand written thank you note?

  38. DanKelley98 says: