Double Jackpot

Dale Hogue
California, USA

Double Jackpot

A noise came from the phone booth near the counter where I was getting change after my purchase. An old gentleman stood perplexed as coins tumbled out of the pay phone onto the phone booth floor. “Wow, you really hit the jackpot,” I said, watching coins scatter across the floor.

“What did I do? I put in a quarter and pushed this little lever. Did I break the phone?” “I think when you pushed the lever the coin return gadget released all the coins it had,” I replied.

“What do I do now?” he asked the counter clerk. “This money doesn’t belong to me.” “I don’t know. This has never happened before.” The clerk got out a broom and started sweeping the coins back toward the booth.

“Perhaps you can take one coin and call the company that services this phone booth. Somebody there must know,” I suggested. “That’s an idea,” the old man said. He took a coin from the floor, placed it in the slot, and called the number listed.

Curious, I stuck around to see what happened. The clerk swept the coins onto a dustpan and emptied it into a bucket. Must be at least $20 worth of coins there, don’t you think? I asked.

“A whole lot more than that. Wouldn’t surprise me if there was over $50,” the clerk ventured. Wow! Who knew that type of phone could hold that much money!

The old man was talking to the phone company. “But the money is not mine. Don’t you understand?” He turned to us, “She wants me to keep the money.” “That’s mighty generous of her. Why does she think you should keep it?” I asked.

“But the money doesn’t belong to me. It is not mine!” He was getting a bit agitated, gesturing at the phone, then at the floor. “No, I will not keep the money! Tell me what you want me to do with it.” He listened to her instructions. He indicated understanding and hung up.

“What did she say?” the clerk asked. “Put the money back into the phone with the coin slot,” the old man replied. “Give me the money bucket, please.”

The clerk handed him the bucket and went to put away his broom and dustpan. The old man sat down on the phone booth stool and started feeding the coins into the phone.

“I sure admire your integrity,” I told him. “Most people would have just taken the money and walked out without a moment’s hesitation. I’ll tell the students in my high school classes there are still honest people in the world, because today I met one.”

The old man waved his hand to me and continued to stick the coins into the phone slot as I left the store. What a jackpot, I thought. I saw an honest man at work. That doesn’t happen every day!

Originally published as HeroicStories #563 on Nov 5, 2004

2 thoughts on “Double Jackpot”

  1. What a delightful story and what a perfect example of the type of moral values that used to be widely taught in schools. Not so anymore. I used to be a high school teacher many years ago and saw the beginning of the change in education and values being taught. I only lasted six years and finally resigned at the end of the school year because mo matter what I tried to do the power was behind the teacher unions and the highly socialist teachers who were being given preferential treatment. Such morals are not being taught anymore, speaking generally. I’m sure…well, hopeful, that morals are being taught somewhere in Americsn schools. God luck to us all.

  2. I don’t know how long ago that incident happened, but it amazes me that the pay phone was even working with all those coins in it. Evidently no one had some to unlock the coin box for a long time. The coin reteurn is meant to release coins that get stuck, or an insufficient /incorrect amount was put in and the call couldn’t be made.


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