Lost scarves and found money quandaries

Drew Baumgartner

Dear Drew,
Funny story. My friend went to France and brought me back a beautiful, one-of-a-kind scarf. Nice right? Well, I left it in the con over night, and couldn’t find it the next morning. I checked the office and the lost and found, but it wasn’t there. I was ready to give up hope, but a saw a girl wearing it at lunch the other day. She claims she bought it, but it definitely had the same tear at the corner that mine did. How do I get my scarf back?
-Stolen-From in Sage

I think I have some advice for you, Stolen-From, but I think you need to be prepared for the worst. Even in our post-CSI society, finders are still keepers, and possession is still nine-tenths of the law, so it’ll be hard to convince anyone that the scarf that she has is, in fact, yours. You also have to be open to the possibility that she actually did buy the scarf at the rare-gifts-from-France store, and the resemblance to yours is mere coincidence.
Having said that, this probably is your scarf, and this girl is probably lying to you. These lies are probably more motivated by wanting to save face than wanting to get away with the perfect scarf heist, but she is lying to you. Unfortunately, those lies are pretty much all she needs to keep your scarf.
At this point, it’s your word against hers, which means no scarves are going to change hands. What you need is more evidence. I suggest you find a hat that matches your scarf perfectly – one that no unscrupulous stealer of such a scarf could pass up. Mark the tag with something distinct, and leave it in the same place you left your scarf. If this girl is your scarf thief, she’ll nab the hat, and you can catch her with the hard evidence of your marked tag. You can confront her in a public place for the added benefit of publicly humiliating her.
Maybe that solution isn’t the most practical, but I’m not sure there are practical solutions to this problem. You’ve already tried asking her about it, and she shut you down. I’d love to offer you some reasonable recourse, but I’m afraid there isn’t any. The good news is, it’s just a scarf, so while you’re only down a nice gift, little miss Stealy McScarftaker will have to live out the rest of here college career with the stupid nickname I just made up.
Dear Drew,
I found $20 on the ground. What do I do?
-New Money in New Downer

This is one of the true philosophical questions of our time. I’ve seen the stock answers ranging from “ask if anybody dropped any money” to “look both ways and slip it in your pocket,” but a friend turned me onto a far superior solution: donate the money to charity. This sidesteps the whole stealing vs. getting duped by someone who didn’t actually just drop their money issue, because you’re giving it away no matter what.
Of course, it just makes sense to make sure that your not just forking over somebody else’s money, so I always ask, but failing anyone’s claim to it, donating to charity seems like the best solution. You get the good feelings of donating to charity, without any of the bad feelings of not having money for pizza Saturday night. I also like that it turns careless individuals into philanthropists rather than unsuspecting bankrollers for my next trip to the VR.
If anyone comes by later looking for their long-lost Jackson, you can pad the bad news that it’s gone with the good news that somebody doesn’t have to go hungry tonight. Everybody wins.