What would you do if you found $1,700 cash in an envelope at your bar?

Welcome to “What Would You Do?” The Rail Edition. This is the segment of our show in which we present you with a real-life, ethically-challenging situation to see what you would do. We promise not to air this on national television. Our goal is simple: to help the hospitality industry learn and grow by examining real world scenarios. 

Our situation this week is called, “The Fat Envelope Stuffed with Cash.” You are a waitress at one of the country’s largest restaurant chains known for its chicken wings and entertainment-focused guest experience. You’re working the dinner shift. In your section, sits a man and his friend. They order a few appetizers and drinks. It’s a table like any other. The man pays his check, leaves you a reasonable tip, and exits the restaurant with his companion. 

When you return to the table, you find a thick envelope resting between buffalo wing sauce and a pile of napkins. You look inside and find a stack of $100 bills. You count the money and realize that you’re holding $1,700. 

You immediately ask yourself, “Is this meant to be a tip?” 

You see that the guest’s name is scrawled on the front of the envelope. 

You…

  1. Pocket the money and not tell anyone about it 
  2. Assume it’s a tip and add it to your total at the end of the night 
  3. Turn the cash in to your manager, assuming that it was left by mistake

Let’s assume that no one else saw the envelope or witnessed you counting the money. You are standing there with the fresh $100 bills discreetly clenched in your hand. You could quickly slip the bills in your pocket, or put the money back into the envelope and hurriedly walk it to the manager’s office.

What would you do?

This was the exact situation that Kaylie Cyr, a waitress at Buffalo Wild Wings, faced recently. She chose to do the right thing and turned the money in to her manager.

"We're super proud of her," said the restaurant's general manager Louie Golden. "She sort of exemplifies the habits that make her an awesome employee. She has extremely good qualities that we look for in everybody we hire."

 Kaylie Cyr of Buffalo Wild Wings returned $1,700 she found, left by one of her diners

Kaylie Cyr of Buffalo Wild Wings returned $1,700 she found, left by one of her diners

As Kaylie described it, there was never really a question of what she would do with the cash.

"Absolutely, I would do the same thing if I found the money again," she told ABC News. "It definitely wouldn't feel right keeping the money if it belonged to someone else. I know if it was my money, I'd be happy if someone returned it to me, so that was kind of my incentive."

Kaylie’s honesty ended up paying off for her in the long run. The guest who had forgotten the envelope called the restaurant the following morning to check if it was still there. He returned to Buffalo Wild Wings a week later and rewarded Kaylie with a $100 bill as a thank you. 

"They told me how grateful they were and how much it reflected on my character," Cyr said. "Obviously, I was grateful for the $100. It was very nice of them.”

So, what would you do?

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