Steve Pokin accidentally left $40 in the checkout machine at a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Springfield. By the time he remembered, he wondered: is it worthwhile even checking to see if someone turned in the money? (Photo by Shannon Cay)

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I think it was because of a hard eight-mile run on a recent Saturday morning. I think my brain was oxygen-deprived. Sort of like those climbers who summit Everest.

What do I do after I run?

I go to the Walmart Neighborhood Market at 1320 S. Glenstone Ave. to buy doughnuts, of course.

I went to the self-checkout, scanned my donuts and was prompted: Do you want cash?

Hmmm. Sure. Who doesn't want cash? I'll take $40.

I'd say it was 45 minutes later — I was in the shower — when it suddenly hit me like a jolt of cold water. I'd left the $40 behind. I'd abandoned two $20 Andrew Jacksons. I'd left them sticking out of the machine in broad daylight, screaming to anyone passing by:

Take us! Waste us on Lottery tickets! Some idiot left us behind!

If I were flexible enough, I would have kicked myself in the butt.

Really? What would be point of going back?

I briefly thought about going back to Walmart to see if someone had found the bills and turned them in to, say, customer service. Is that where people turn in lost cash?

Well, that's a moot question. There is no designated place to go to turn in lost cash because people don't turn in lost cash.

It's like asking where to go to turn yourself in for speeding. People don't turn themselves in for speeding.

Honestly, would you turn in $40 that you happened upon in the self-checkout at Walmart?

I didn't think so.

In fact, I thought, how do I even ask that question without embarrassing myself?

Excuse me, do you work here? Do you know if anyone turned in my lost money? While we're at it, I went to the end of the rainbow and didn't find my pot of gold. Do you know where it's at?

No, no no. I am not Steve Pokin. He's The Answer Man, right? We both have white hair.

Some three hours later, I went back

So I did not go back to Walmart. At least not then. It was a lost cause. Accept the loss and move on. Serenity now.

I had a few more things to do at home. I did them.

Then I needed to do things beyond home. I needed to drive a few places. I would be driving near the Walmart.

My wife and I would be going to Pizza House on Commercial Street that night — with our son. It gnawed at me that the $40 I left behind could have been used for that.

Instead, now I would be spending another $40, a different $40 — for a total of $80 for dinner.

So, some three hours after leaving my money behind I returned to Walmart to ask if someone had turned it in. Just to be thorough. To do my due diligence. I already knew no one had.

I asked the first blue-vested worker I came upon. I pointed to the check-out I had used.

“I know this is a stupid question, but …”

Yes. It was two $20 bills, right?

You mean to tell me someone came upon my $40 and turned it in?

Yes. Go to customer service.

The Dalai Lama lives in Springfield?

My faith in humanity restored, I went to the customer service desk. But she wouldn't give me my money. I did not have the receipt.

I didn't bring it because I never expected someone in this beautiful city would turn in my money. If you're out there reading this, thank you!

I went home; got the receipt; got my $40; and enjoyed a wonderful meal at Pizza House.

This is Pokin Around column No. 188.

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Hauxeda. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin