I came out a book shop recently, having just bought the Pele autobiography. It still offered me zero hope of embarking on a footballing career after 38 years of mistreating my body with alcohol and fatty foods. As I walked out of the shop I bumped straight into a huge man with a beard.

Now I have nothing against huge men with beards. Not only am I broad shouldered, I am also a pretty hairy man myself… but this guy just looked scary. He stared at me, no doubt thinking that he snapped people like me in two for a living. I looked back at him mumbling an apology and hoping against hope that today was his snapping-people-in-two day off. Then he huffed and walked on.

And as he left I saw a twenty-euro note on the ground. He must have dropped it.

I was faced with a dilemma. What was the correct thing to do? The moral thing to do of course, the good thing to do, is to run after this scary man and give him his money back. But was that really the “correct” thing to do? I mean, I could, just take the twenty myself.

I could use that money to buy another book or two (and hence expand my mind). I could use it to buy a truck-load of pastizzi (and hence expand my gut) or I could use it to buy a little gift for Kat (and hence expand my chances of doing the things that couples ought to be doing on a bi-weekly basis at least). The possibilities were endless.

I know, for most people twenty euro wouldn’t change their life, but I could buy an extra round of drinks when I went out with my friends, meaning that I could finally put to bed my bit-of-a-qammiel reputation.

On the other hand…

My parents brought me up to know the difference between right and wrong; good and evil; honesty and dishonesty.

If they knew that I had not given the money back to this man, they would be very disappointed in me. To them, it would be the same as stealing. I wrestled with the dilemma for a few seconds as the scary man walked further and further away.

The twenty-euro note was there, and the big scary man was actually walking AWAY from it.

And then, I am ashamed to say that the moral faction won. I decided to do the right thing. I chased after the man, calling out to him and when I caught up with him, I gave him the money. He looked at me, shrugged, took the money and walked off.

I have to admit, I felt good about myself. A little warm fuzzy feeling took over my insides and I smiled. Although I was a bit unsure as to why Mr. Scary Beard had seemed so casual about it all.

Till I got home, opened my wallet and realised that I was missing a twenty-euro note.

Thanks, honesty.

© 2016 – VIDA Magazine – Steve Hili