November cold rain and wintry wind. En route to the bank on Jefferson Street in downtown Syracuse (on the way to withdrawing some cash), I spy a twenty-dollar bill on the wet sidewalk and notice it is but one of several bills, maybe four or five, maybe more, presumably the same denomination. I bend to pick up the lucky find, not quite thinking how my conscience will dictate handling or disbursing or saving or reporting or possessing this trove of cash or cache, take your pick. But before I can formulate a plan or even a rationale, as I am bending down to reach for the folded treasure, a man (I assume it was a man, not a mouse or a rat) rapidly swoops down in front of me, swooshes down in an arc with his arm, sweeps up the bills, merrily declares glee in words I can't recall, but that might translate roughly as "whoa! look what I found get out of my way these are the streets har har har seeya," and dashes off in front of me and to the left, down an alley called Bank Alley (but more aptly appellated Dumpster Drive or Blank Alley or Detritus Circle). I am arrested. I stop short. It is a stop-action animation of urban legend proportions. I never see his face. But get this: he is wearing a luminescent yellow vest because he is one of several downtown workers employed either by the city or the downtown beautification committee tasked with picking up trash. Right before my fecking eyes his job description broadens to pick up not only trash but also items signified by a word beginning with C that rhymes with trash, as in filthy lucre. I am steamed, amazed, perplexed, nonplussed, and faintly amused. I got to the bank's ATM and withdraw cash, legit cash. I walk down Bank Alley. No sign of him. I circle back on Warren Street. I spy one of the city or committee (rhymes again) workers with neon-yellow vest. Is it he? Not sure. This guy looks like he needs the filthy lucre desperately. He moves more slowly. Or is it the perp moving more slowly, filled with money in his pocket and contentment and one-upmanship in his bosom? And the only thing jangling in my own chest are a jumble of unspoken questions, such as: whose money was it? do they miss it more than Swoopman and me? what would I have said to Swoopman anyway? and if I were to have pocketed the moulah,what would I do or say? report it? to whom? and why? split the cash with Swoopman? take it, smile, and forgo going to the ATM?
Thanks for something to write home about, Swoopman.