Column: Aquebogue man lost $800, found new friends

Ezra Fife re-enacts finding a note on his work pickup telling him that a good Samaritan found something he dropped before meeting his wife Cori and son York to see a movie. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

What would you do if you found $800 underneath a pickup truck parked at a shopping center?

That’s the dilemma 15-year-old Matti Gibson faced on Sunday afternoon outside the Rite Aid store in the Mattituck Plaza.

It would be untrue to say the part-time Jamesport resident didn’t think about all the ways she could spend the eight $100 bills she had just found. But in the end she and her mother, Kim, decided the right thing was to secure the cash and leave a note on the truck under which it was found.

Ezra Fife of Aquebogue is mighty grateful they did. He had just been paid from a contracting job when he rushed to the plaza to meet his family for a movie at Mattituck Cinemas. Twenty minutes late, he opted not to stop off at the bank on his way.

When he left the theater he found the curious note: “If you lost something, please call Kim at …”

“I checked for my wallet and found I still had it,” he recalled Monday. “My license and debit card were there, too.”

Forgetting he had stuffed the cash in his back pocket before the matinee, Mr. Fife admitted to Ms. Gibson that he had no idea what he had lost.

“Well, I don’t want to tell you in case it’s not really yours,” she said.

“Oh my God, did you find hundred dollar bills?” he responded.

After he verified that it was eight folded $100 bills, Ms. Gibson gave him her address and invited him to her house in Jamesport to reclaim his hard-earned cash.

Ezra Fife, right, stands next to Matti and Kim Gibson (Center), after they returned $800 he had lost in Mattituck. (Credit: Gibson family)
Ezra Fife, right, stands next to Matti and Kim Gibson (Center), after they returned $800 he had lost in Mattituck. (Credit: Gibson family)

Of course, Matti who said on the ride back home that they “did the right thing,” was still holding out a little hope nobody would come forward.

“She stood right next to me when he called,” Ms. Gibson said. “When she heard him say he didn’t know if he had lost anything she started high-fiving her friend.”

The best part of this little Sunday tale isn’t even the way the Gibsons generously returned what wasn’t ever really theirs — a dollar amount that could have tempted just about anyone to keep it.

The best part is what happened afterward.

When he arrived at their summer house, Mr. Fife learned the Gibsons, who split time between Jamesport and Manhasset, were hosting a barbecue. They invited him to sit and talk awhile.

Two hours and a couple beers later, a new friendship was born.

“If someone else found that money, who knows what would have happened,” Ms. Gibson said. “But if nothing else, we made another friend on the North Fork. And that’s always a great thing.”

Grant Parpan is the executive editor of Times/Review Newsgroup. He can be reached at 631-354-8046 or by email at [email protected].