I ordered The Bad Plus's new album Never Stop II on vinyl a few months ago. It came out on digital stream a while back, but the distributor had difficulty getting the vinyl produced and shipped. No big deal. I listened to the download and waited. This week the record arrived in the mail. Actually, two copies of it showed up. Odd.
I only paid for one and so wrote to the distributor saying I would be happy to mail one back if they paid the postage. My guess is I'm dealing with an operation run by one or two people, and I like small businesses too much to keep something I didn't buy. Even with large businesses I'm pretty much honest. Why wouldn't I be?
The guy got back to me with a shipping label and thanked me for being so honest. I told him it was my pleasure even though it bugged me that he didn't expect honesty. I understand and am not offended, but it's weird that honesty is such a surprise.
I'm glad I returned the record I hadn't ordered, but was left as conflicted as I was in college when I returned a wallet to a guy. Here's the piece I wrote about that years ago:
I Found A Wallet
bgfay - August 2016
In college I found a wallet. It was really thick. Brown leather. Worn edges. My own wallet was velcro (it was the eighties) and very thin. I had pretty much no cash and had bounced three checks. I carried my wallet mostly out of habit and for my meal card. I saw this wallet, picked it up, and brought it back to my dorm room.
Inside was a wad of cash. Just shy of a thousand dollars. Color me impressed. There was a college ID like mine but with another guy’s picture and a name I couldn’t pronounce. My friends were impressed with the money too. We marvelled at a kid our age having that kind of cash. Wow, we thought.
In the paper facebook listing all the first-years, we found the guy. I dialed his number. He picked up right away. I said, I found your wallet, and told him my room number. He said he’d be right over. My friends and I had music on and were just hanging out. There was homework we weren’t doing. In fourteen months I would fail out.
The guy knocked. I recognized him from the facebook. You found my wallet? he asked. Yeah, I said, handing it to him. He opened it and passed his thumb over the bills. He said, but it’s all still here? I said, yeah. He said, you didn’t take it. I looked at him.
I couldn’t have taken his money. None of my friends brought up the idea either. We weren’t especially good or moral boys. We were mostly cash-strapped, wondering how to buy the next beer. But it wasn’t our money.
Two months later when the vending machine gave back three dollars on every purchase, we emptied it at the expense of a vending company that extorted for Snickers and Coke. The wallet though belonged to a guy who lived across campus. That was his money.
He tried to give me some cash. A reward, he said in a thick accent. I waved him off. I wanted to be done with the whole thing. His surprise bothered me, made me angry. He thanked me. Two of his friends were standing in the hall. I looked at them. They looked at me. I said, no problem, and closed the door. I never saw him again. I wonder if he remembers any of this.