Ordinary decency

This is a nice story about a man who did a decent thing (although he didn't realize, at the time, quite how decent it was):

When Shahla Ghannadian's husband accidentally left her purse on a park bench during a visit to Sausalito, the family didn't have much hope of getting it back. For one thing, it was a Louis Vuitton, a pricey find in itself.For another, the purse contained about $1 million in jewelry.

But against all expectations, the purse and valuables were en route back to their owner Monday after a San Rafael man who found the purse turned it in at the Sausalito Police Department.

"Obviously, people find purses and turn them in, but, from my memory, I can't remember anyone returning that valuable an amount of property," said Sausalito police Sgt. Kurtis Skoog.

The Ghannadians, who live in Toronto, were in San Francisco over the weekend to attend the wedding of a daughter who lives there. Their flight home wasn't until Sunday night, so family members drove to Sausalito on Sunday for some sightseeing and ice cream.

Shahla Ghannadian brought her purse, which contained the jewelry and accessories she wore to the wedding. The valuables included a Cartier watch and various pieces of jewelry made of pearls, emeralds and diamonds, including a 12-carat stone, police said. Also in the purse were $300 in U.S. cash and $200 in Canadian currency.


[O]n Monday, John Suhrhoff of San Rafael walked in to the police department holding the bag, all the cash and valuables still inside, and turned it over to a counter clerk. Suhrhoff mentioned to the clerk that he thought the accessories were costume jewelry.

"The finder has no idea it was real jewelry," Skoog said.

Suhrhoff could not be reached for comment Monday. But the Ghannadians are hoping he reads the news about his good deed so he knows their extent of their gratitude.

"You have to be a real man to return that bag," Ali Ghannadian said. "Even the bag is expensive. We're really, really thankful to that guy."

Keep in mind that, while Mr. Suhrhoff didn't know the jewelry was so valuable, he still returned about $500 in cash, plus a purse worth about the same amount. Congratulations, Mr. Suhrhoff, on being a truly decent person!

By the way, please contrast Mr. Suhrhoff's traditional morality with that being taught to Muslim's in Europe. As I quoted from Lowell Ponte in my previous post, young Muslims are being taught that they should steal from Europeans, in lieu of the tax that they would impose on non-Muslims were they living in a true Shari'a state.

UPDATE:  Regarding my last point about the abandonment of basic, get along in society morals (such as not stealing), the temptation amongst extreme religious groups to justifying theft from the dominant culture is apparently not confined to Islam.  I'm reading Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven, and, in the very first chapter, he describes precisely the same phenomenom amongst fringe Fundamentalist Mormons.

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  • http://ymarsakar.blogspot.com/ Ymarsakar

    This is a rich family. Why doesn’t the rich family do the decent thing and give the man a reward. 20% finder’s fee should be more than enough to satisfy the demands of honor and gratitude.

    But I doubt Canada would understand something as antiquated as personal debts of honor. I’d be surprised if they ever thought about any kind of personal reward, when they weren’t required to do so. It just doesn’t seem that the Canadian system of welfare would produce that kind of individuality.

    “You have to be a real man to return that bag,” Ali Ghannadian said. “Even the bag is expensive. We’re really, really thankful to that guy.”

    Perhaps the man has a family to feed or maybe he just needs a vacation himself? How people show their thanks and their character, rests entirely upon their personal actions when they know that they are not required to do so.

    The man required the purse when he knew he wasn’t required to do so. Will the Ghannadians reciprocate? If they do, then I’d be very surprised.

  • jg

    The American newsstories about such honesty usually involve use of (traditional Judeo-Christian) morality in the statement of thank you. It’s our standard: Praise for the character of the finder and usually some reference to validating community beliefs. The act shows who we (still) are as Americans, we feel.
    You will please note the lack of such references in the Ghannadian thank-you.

    Not to be faulted, of course: They are Canadian.

    Which leads one to wonder whether the family would have had a 2d chance at their riches were such TO HAVE BEEN LEFT on a TORONTO park bench?

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    “The man returned the purse when he knew he wasn’t required to do so.” But, he WAS required to return the purse — in the only way that will make for a decent society. He had an INTERNAL standard that required him to do the morally correct thing, in order that he could look himself in the mirror the next morning.

    Where the “requirement” is only an external one, society breaks down….it’s happening in our country, and we can thank those who wish to banish any vestige of religion, including anything that the great religious traditions teach, from our public life, including schools. What will it be like when the current public school cohorts make up a large part of society. I don’t think being old and useless will be much fun at that point.

    God bless that good man in Sausalito – and I doubt he has (or had) any expectation of being rewarded for doing the right thing. For those of us with that code, doing the right thing is its own reward.

    (That said, it would be VERY nice for the owners to send him something, and if they had ANY class at all, it would already be on its way. I’m not betting on them, AY?