A taxicab driver who emigrated from India in 1984 says he never thought twice about returning a wallet containing $5,950.
"If money doesn't belong to me, I don't keep it," said Vinod Mago, 55, of Lynnwood, who drives a Seattle-Tacoma International Taxi Association cab. "I know God is watching everybody, every second."
In a situation resembling one in New York this week, Mago had just started his shift Feb. 1 when taxi coordinator Stanley Lal called to say a distraught man identified only as Peter was missing his wallet.
Mago pulled over in Bellevue, found the black wallet stuffed with $50 and $100 bills near the right rear passenger door and raced to the airport in time to return it to the owner, who gave him $100 and Lal $20 in gratitude.
"He said, 'That's my life savings!'" Lal recalled, adding that the man said he was planning to buy a car with the cash.
Mago said he was glad another passenger had not taken the wallet.
"It would have been embarrassing," he said. "He would have thought I took it."
On Monday a driver in New York, Osman Chowdhury, an immigrant from Bangladesh, returned a bag containing 31 diamond rings to a passenger he tracked down after she left it in the trunk. She had tipped him 30 cents on an $11 ride.
Months ago, Mago found $640 in his taxi and returned that money, too. With the reward for finding the wallet, he took his family to dinner at the Olive Garden in Lynnwood.
"My mother always said, `If you're an honest person, you will always have money in your pocket,'" he said.