Rewards and incentives drive good behaviors, and increase quality and productivity, but frequently no reward is the best reward a person can receive. The other day I was the recipient of that rare, priceless gift and I’m compelled to share my story.

Finders Keepers

While driving to the library to return a book, I came to a stop at a busy intersection and noticed a walking stick lying in the middle of road. The cane’s shiny brass handle seemed to wink

at me. Yes, this falls into the category of corny, but true. I did not hesitate. I put my vehicle in park and before a steady stream of cars could run me down, I retrieved the discarded dowel.

Upon returning home I began my examination. It was a work of art. The wooden shaft had a spiral inlay of twenty-one brass four-leaf clovers with a complementary solid brass duck’s head handle. Affixed to the collar were a military insignia and an American flag. It had a tasteful masculine air to it. My inspection was interrupted by a phone call, which started another series of events: a funeral, a wedding, and a flurry of houseguests.

Sympathetic Seekers

I placed the prized staff in my home office with the best intentions of promptly finding the owner. During my trips to the airport to pick up and drop off family members, I pondered how to reunite the separated parties.

Sherlock Holmes or Nero Wolf would place an advert in the evening gazette and within a few days suitors would inquire, but this is high-tech modern day where print media is waning. Should I post a picture on Craig’s List? Facebook? Or maybe a low-tech solution of a “Found Cane” flier on telephone poles would be better. More pondering.

Several days went by and on Sunday morning I rolled out of bed and was determined to find cane’s owner. While still in my pajamas I scrutinized the cane for any further clues and that’s when I saw it. Under the handle was a small white label with a name and address. How did I miss that before? My guilt was reduced, just a tad, remembering the adventurous week I had from dawn to dusk and beyond.

Thankful Peepers

I readied myself for my mission with a quick shower, dressed, ate breakfast and hopped into the truck with MapQuest directions in hand. Exactly one mile away (it turned out) I reached my destination.

A spry senior gentleman came to the door, “Yes, may I help you?” he said. I held up the walking stick and his eyes grew wide with surprise and salvation. “I thought I lost that forever. Thank you.” he exclaimed. “I remember putting my wife’s walker in the car to go to the hospital but when we got to the emergency room my cane was gone.”


There are more than monetary rewards in life, which he did offer and I insistently declined. To receive a heartfelt “thank you” is payment beyond measure. This brings to mind an Aristotle quote: “In the arena of human life, the honors and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities in action.”

Why wait to return a lost possession to lift your spirits? Every day we have the privilege to offer genuine praise for a job well done or a sincere compliment to a co-worker, family member or best friend. Do it today. Give something for nothing and reap the rewards.

A tasteful toast to a planned act of kindness:

May it always be in fashion
To arise and take swift action
When a deed is to be done
Even where reward is none

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