Angela Jones says she lives from paycheck to paycheck, but she professes no regrets about turning in a lady's purse she found Feb. 2 while working as a cleaner at Detroit Metro Airport that turned out to have $10,000 in cash inside.
Ms. Jones said she had no idea what was inside the purse until after she handed it to two Northwest Airlines employees, who looked inside to check for its owner's identification.
It turned out it belonged to a woman from Hong Kong who was flying home that day, the Kimco Services employee from Detroit said in a telephone interview with The Blade after airport officials honored her for her honesty yesterday.
"Honesty and integrity are core values of the Wayne County Airport Authority," Daniel Kerber, the authority's executive vice president, said in a statement. "It's important for airport management to let employees know that we not only expect this behavior, but when we learn of it we also recognize and reward it."
Ms. Jones received a certificate of commendation and a check for $100 from the airport authority.
Having found the purse near a Starbucks stand toward the middle of the McNamara Terminal where many international-flight gates are located, Ms. Jones gave it to attendants at the closest gate in case it belonged to a departing passenger. She also reported her find to airport police.
Ms. Jones said she watched to see what the Northwest staff did with the purse, and saw one attendant's eyes widen upon looking inside.
Ms. Jones never met the person to whom the purse belonged, but said she later was told the woman had been visiting relatives in the United States and had received the money from them.
"I was told that it was all the money she had," the cleaner said, adding that while knowledge that the purse had belonged to a wealthier person would not have changed her handling of it. She took an extra degree of satisfaction from having helped someone of modest means.
Ms. Jones, a 43-year-old mother of two grown children, is paid $8 an hour for her work, and said she has "bills owing right now." But even though the reward check the airport gave her equals just 1 percent of what she could have had by keeping the purse, Ms. Jones said she would do it the same way again because she'd want that done for her if she were in the position of having lost something.
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