Reward tiny after $91,750 is found |

Reward tiny after $91,750 is found

You’re driving down the street, say a residential street in Nevada City, and thump! – your tire rolls over something.

Your rear-view mirror shows a clump of cardboard. Do you stop to check it out, like a Santa Rosa-area couple did in July?

“It looked like somebody’s recycling,” said Jan King, who was visiting here with her husband, Tom Harriman. “We picked up the box and threw it in the car.”

They returned to their Sebastopol home and began separating their finds – pine cones here, firewood there.

And the cardboard box? King and Harriman examined it.

“At first it looked like a bunch of paper receipts,” King recalled this week. “Then we looked closer. We realized there were about 200 envelopes and everyone had a series of unsigned travelers’ checks. … It would’ve taken forever to count.”

But a cover sheet listed a total of $91,750. Plenty of money for a down payment on a house – even one in Nevada City. But King and Harriman already have a house.

“You dream of finding a box of money, but it was not the kind of money we could keep, of course,” she said.

“The streets of Nevada City are still paved with gold,” Harriman said.

The couple, foreign-exchange program volunteers, had taken a Japanese exchange student to a Grass Valley family before their saga began.

The box was addressed to Nevada City’s Bank of America and was supposed to be shipped by Airborne Express, the couple learned.

An employee for the carrier was pleased to hear from them. She told them several packages had fallen off a contracted deliverywoman’s truck, and all but one – the one King and Harriman collected – had been found, said King.

The employee, according to King, said, “Oh, God bless you! You’ll be rewarded.”

Back in Sebastopol, they met with an Airborne Express worker and turned over the box. A couple of Santa Rosa newspaper reporters attended the rendezvous, but the worker was mum about any reward.

“He got the money, and he was booking. He wasn’t talking to the press,” Harriman said.

Follow-up calls to the carrier by Harriman got nowhere.

Then, last month, the couple got mail from the travelers’ check company, American Express. It included a “certificate of excellence” from the company and $300 – which is less than one-third of 1 percent of $91,750.

King and Harriman weren’t impressed.

“We thought $300 was a paltry amount,” said King, whose friends told her 1 percent, or closer to $900, was pretty standard.

Regardless, Harriman, a local school district board president, donated the money to the Gravenstein School Foundation.

“You gotta teach kids honesty, you know,” he said.

An Airborne Express worker declined comment for this story.

As for American Express, the company doesn’t discuss its reward policy, said spokeswoman Christine Elliott.

“If (King and Harriman) feel dissatisfied in some way, they can certainly give us a call,” she said from her New York City office.

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