It is quite rare for anyone to stumble upon cash that has been abandoned by its owner, and even when they do, the sums are often not particularly substantial. Many individuals who come upon cash are confronted with a difficult choice: should they retain the money for themselves or look for the person who rightfully owns it so they may return it? When it comes to relatively minor sums, like a dollar or two, there is less of a sense of shame associated with stealing the money. When it comes to greater sums, though, individuals need to pause and think about whether or not they are acting ethically.
On May 8th, a guy named Jose Nuez Romaniz from Albuquerque, New Mexico, was at an automated teller machine (ATM) only two minutes away from his house when he discovered a very big quantity of misplaced cash—exactly $135,000 to be more specific. Nuez had only intended to make a small deposit so that his grandfather could make an online purchase of some socks; however, he discovered a large bag of cash that had been left unattended right next to the automated teller machine (ATM) that he was using at the time. This forced him to make a significant choice.
According to CNN, 19-year-old Nuez was just on his way to the local ATM on a Sunday to deposit some money so that he could assist his grandfather in purchasing some socks online after they were unable to locate the appropriate ones in any stores. Nuez was planning to help his grandfather buy the socks after they were unable to locate the appropriate ones in any stores. Nuez observed a transparent plastic bag packed with stacks of money as he walked towards the ATM outside of a Wells Fargo bank after parking his vehicle and before entering the business.
Someone else in this situation would have considered it their fortunate day and taken the money if they choose to think positively about the situation. After all, the sum is so substantial that it may very literally alter the course of one’s life. Despite this, Nuez found himself bound to act in a moral manner.
During an interview with KOAT Action 7 News, Nunez said, “In the back of my brain, I was thinking about my parents, particularly my mom.”
CNN was also informed by Nuez that: “I was completely at a loss for what to do. I was, like, dreaming. I just could not believe it. I was standing in front of a mirror and thought to myself, “What should I do?””
According to the interview that Nuez gave, there were a lot of different things that played into his choice of what to do with the money. The purse included a “foot-long stack” of twenty dollar notes and fifty dollar bills. Nuez told CNN that he thought of his mother when he made the choice to contact the local police station rather than take the money for himself and use it to buy himself some new clothes.
“In the back of my mind, I kept hearing the sound of my mother’s voice and her chancla. My parents instilled in me from a young age the value of hard work and independence. You won’t be able to get by on stolen money for very long.”
The phrase “la chancla” alludes to the actual but also humorous threat that parents make to their children by saying that they will beat them with a flip-flop if they don’t behave well. Nuez made the call to the police in Albuquerque to give over the money after he had internalized this message from his parents.
When the money was finally delivered to the police station, it was tallied, and it was discovered that the bag contained a staggering $135,000 in total. Officer Simon Drobik came to the conclusion that the money must have been accidentally left behind by a bank subcontractor who was responsible for restocking the ATM with cash. Officer Drobik said the following to CNN:
“If he had made a different choice with his life, this money might have made an enormous amount of a difference, but he chose… the route of integrity and did the right thing,” the narrator says. “But he did the right thing.”
Nuez did not go home with nothing, despite the fact that he was unable to walk away with the whole $135,000 prize. Nuez, who is currently enrolled in community college and has aspirations of majoring in criminal justice, was invited by the Albuquerque police force to submit an application for a position as a public safety officer. This is because Nuez, who is only 19 years old, is not yet old enough to become a full-time officer of the law.
Additionally, CNN stated that Nunez was given gift cards to the value of $500 each from at least three local companies in the region, in addition to receiving a gift card to the value of $100 from a local restaurant. Albuquerque ESPN Radio 101.7 FM also awarded him with sports memorabilia in recognition of his good deed, including a football that was autographed by Brian Urlacher, a former NFL player who attended the University of New Mexico and was selected after playing for the NFL. Along with this contribution, the donor also received six season tickets to a UNM football game.
After Nuez had informed CNN about the money, he went on to describe what he did after that:
“When I got back home, I finished up the remainder of my internet shopping.”
On the Sunday in question, Nunez got in touch with his mother shortly after he finished his shift at the police station. Back in the 1990s, Nuez’s parents made the journey from Mexico to the United States, and his mother has always looked up to him as a source of great pride.
Nuez remembered that his parents instilled in him essential principles, and in the end, it was these beliefs that motivated him to act in a morally responsible manner. He was well aware of the critical need of turning over what he had discovered.
He also said that the fact that he was acting responsibly had a profound effect on his mother: “She praised me and told me I had made the correct decision, adding that she was pleased with me. She dialed my number and came dangerously close to bursting into tears.”