Lesson of the Day: ‘Teenager, an Aspiring Detective, Returns $135,000 He Found’

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Lesson of the Day: ‘Teenager, an Aspiring Detective, Returns $135,000 He Found’

In this lesson, you will consider what Mr. Nuñez’s actions, and the community’s response to those actions, say about him and about our larger society.

Imagine you are walking down the street and you see a wallet. You open it and it has an ID but no money. Would you return it? What if it had $20? What about $200? Would that prompt you to change your decision?

Is it stealing if you keep it? Are you a sucker if you return it? What’s the right thing to do?

We asked that same question in a Student Opinion prompt earlier this year. One student commented, “If it has a lot of money in it I think a lot of people would actually be more obligated to return the wallet knowing that the person would miss it more.” What do you think about that response? Do you think it would be more tempting to keep the money if it was only a small sum? Why?

Jose Nuñez Romaniz found a bag with $135,000. What do you think would go through your mind if that happened to you? Would you give the money back immediately? Would you be tempted to keep any of it? What do you think most people would do in this situation?

Read the article, then answer the following questions:

1. Where did Mr. Nuñez find the money? Why did it have a tag on it that said how much money it was supposed to contain? How much money was in the bag?

2. Why did he move the money from the place where he found it? Why did he decide not to call the phone number that was posted on the A.T.M.? What did he do instead?

3. How did Mr. Nuñez say he felt at the time? What about later, when he learned that a ceremony would be held to honor him?

4. Mr. Nuñez said, I’ve wanted to be a crime scene investigator or a detective for the police since I was a kid.” Based on how he reacted in this unusual situation, do you think he would make a good law enforcement officer? Why?

5. Officer Simon Drobik, an Albuquerque Police Department spokesman, described the Nuñez family as humble. He also said: “It was amazing to watch them. There’s a greater good there. They weren’t blown away by Jose’s actions, but everyone else was.” Why was the Nuñez family not surprised by what Jose did? Why do you think other people were surprised? What was your reaction when you read the article?

A special ceremony was held on May 7 to honor Mr. Nuñez. He was given gift cards, merchandise from a sports store, a $500 scholarship from an electric company and a plaque. He also got to throw the first pitch in an improvised ceremony with the Albuquerque Isotopes, a minor-league baseball team, and got to meet the mayor.

Watch the video embedded in the tweet below.

Why do you think Mr. Nuñez was given these honors and gifts? Was it to thank him for being honest? Was it to remind the rest of us that there is reason to have faith in humanity? Was it to make Mr. Nuñez a role model for other children and teenagers, to show that good things can happen when you do the right thing? Are there other reasons the community might have decided to hold a special ceremony for Mr. Nuñez?

What is your reaction to the ceremony? Was it the right thing to do for Mr. Nuñez, no matter what the reasons? Why?