ELLSWORTH — Call it a tale of two cities.
In the fictional 1945 Bedford Falls, N.Y., of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the scatterbrained Billy Bailey loses $8,000 when he unwittingly hands it over to the curmudgeonly banker Mr. Potter — who then keeps it for himself.
Thankfully, in real-life 2015 Ellsworth, Maine, there was no Mr. Potter at the Circle K store on High Street Tuesday morning.
There, a woman customer saw a large wad of cash in a box of Snickers at the checkout counter around 8:20 a.m. Knowing its rightful owner was likely looking for it, she handed it over to the clerk.
The clerk, according to Detective Dotty Small of the Ellsworth Police Department, “counted it several times” and came up with the same figure each time: $7,900. The clerk then called police to have them come and pick it up.
Like the clerk, Small said she was taken aback at the amount of money involved in this incident.
“I counted it three times,” she said.
Small said it is the largest sum of lost cash she has seen turned in during her 34 years of work with the Police Department.
“We’ve had $800 or $900 before,” she said, but never a sum in the high four figures.
While such a large amount of money is an unusual find in the candy rack at the store, Small said it is not uncommon to find other things that fall out of customers’ pockets when they go to pay for their purchases.
“We’re always getting called up there to get licenses or lost [credit or debit] cards,” she said.
Small put a notice on the department’s Facebook page at 10:30 a.m. that a “fairly large sum of money” had been lost and turned in that morning, and she asked the person who lost it to call her at the department.
Shortly before 2 p.m. a man called, was able to verify that the money was his, and then came in to pick up the cash.
“He just happened to have gotten paid for a job,” said Small, in explaining why the man was carrying such a large sum of cash with him Tuesday morning. She said he did not realize it was missing until he reached into his pocket at a job site after leaving the store.
Small said employees at Circle K did not recognize who the woman was that turned the money in, but the man would like to know who she is so he can thank her for what she did.
If anyone knows who the woman was, they can contact Small at the Police Department (667-2133 or 667-2168). She will then work to connect the finder with the man, who is thankful she found the missing money and did what she did in the aftermath of that discovery.
“He is very grateful,” Small said.