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Lost and found, featuring “Snap Judgment”
Jun 15, 2023
Season 8 | Episode 6

Lost and found, featuring “Snap Judgment”

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Finding money is exciting. But what's next — keep it or return it? We team up with "Snap Judgment" to share a few stories about that dilemma.

This week, we’ve got a special crossover that’s all about finding money. Join our team for a good old-fashioned case of lost and found. 

First up, Reema Khrais finds $100 inside a birthday card left on the ground in a Los Angeles park. She makes it her honor-bound quest to find the original owner, with help from the TIU team and our crack investigative journalism skills.

  • A dirty white envelope with an open, torn flap. "Lottie" is written across it in blue ink with a little heart drawn next to it. The envelope is decorated with stickers of a deer, puppies, a cat, a penguin and a flying horse with rainbow wings.
  • A pink flier propped up against the base of a tree in a grassy area. The flier reads: Hey, you, did you lose $100 in the park? If so, call (213) 632-9229 and leave us a message. Claim the $$ by answering three questions correctly.

And from “Snap Judgment”: Six people, six different times and places, but they all find themselves in the same predicament, asking the same question. Should they stop or should they go?

You can find more of “Snap Judgement’s” episodes here. If you liked this episode, share it with a friend. And to get even more Uncomfortable, subscribe to our newsletter. Each Friday, you’ll get a note from Reema and some recs from the “This Is Uncomfortable” team. If you missed it, here’s the latest issue.

If you want to tell us what you thought about the episode or anything else, email us at uncomfortable@marketplace.org or fill out the form below.

This is Uncomfortable June 15, 2023 Transcript

 

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

 

Reema Khrais

A couple years back, I was walking in a park in Los Angeles…and right there on the dirt pathway, I saw an envelope. 

 

It was soiled, had footprints all over it….joggers…people walking their dogs had just been cruising right by it. 

 

I picked it up and saw that it was still sealed. The front of the envelope was covered in these colorful, childish stickers – there was a reindeer, two adorable dogs, a flying unicorn and then in big letters, written in blue ink…there was a name: Lottie…

 

I debated whether I should open it. But obviously I had to. 

 

Inside, there was a note, wishing Lottie a happy 17th birthday. The card was signed by someone named Frooks.  

 

And inside that note, there was money….100 dollars. Just a crisp 100 dollar bill chilling inside this letter in a busy park in Los Angeles. 

 

I’m not going to lie, my first thought when I saw the cash was pure excitement. I immediately went over to my husband who was sitting on a nearby bench…I told him, maybe we could go to a fancy dinner tonight or maybe we could splurge at Costco. 

 

But then after just a minute of daydreaming, it hit me. Maybe I shouldn’t keep this money at all. Had it just been some cash that I’d stumbled across, without a sentimental note, then maybe I could keep it, but even then…is that the right thing to do? I wondered… what do you do when you find money on the ground? 

 

I’m Reema Khrais and today on the program, we’re sharing a story from our friends over at Snap Judgement about six people who faced a similar predicament with much higher stakes. 

 

When I first heard their episode, it reminded me of this time that I found a birthday card on the ground with a 100 dollar bill in it. And so before we get to Snap Judgment I want to tell you what happened to Lottie’s lost birthday card. 

 

So I quickly realized the only way I could keep the money guilt-free is if I did everything I could to find its rightful owner first. Plus I was just curious, who’s Lottie? Who’s Frooks? 

 

It felt like this would be a challenge, so I recruited the help of one of our old show producers, Phoebe Unterman. 

 

She was very down when I told her about my genius idea… 

 

Reema Khrais: okay, so we’re gonna build a poster.

Phoebe Unterman: Yeah, I feel like we should have some hashtag on there and also does this uncomfortable already have a hotline?

 

Reema Khrais

We were going to hang posters in search of Lottie throughout the park. Sure, it was an old-school idea, but we figured if she was there for her birthday then there’s a good chance she’d be back. 

 

We made posters on bright colored paper with a straightforward question…ARE YOU LOTTIE OR FROOKS? WE FOUND YOUR 100 DOLLARS AND WANT TO RETURN IT. We also put a hotline number for people to leave a message. And then Phoebe and I headed to the park. 

 

Reema Khrais: First poster…with tape…

 

Phoebe Unterman: looks great.

 

Reema Khrais: Looks good to me.

 

Reema Khrais

We stapled posters onto some wooden poles…on benches…

 

Phoebe Unterman: Should we do it on the other side?

 

Reema Khrais: Yeah let’s do it on the other side,

 

Reema Khrais

And some water fountains

 

Reema Khrais: That’s a terrible taping job.

 

Reema Khrais

And now suddenly there were two delusional optimists…just taping neon posters onto public property…

 

And this was only the first tactic. Because this was very serious, we reached out to a former private investigator who reminded us we had another clue. She turned 17 that year, so the PI recommended we check out the county’s birth records for someone named Lottie or Charlotte. 

 

We did that, but didn’t have any luck. We also looked for Lottie in a public database at the library. Also a dead end. 

 

I started to feel silly and I wondered why I was doing all of this. I think as someone who chronically forgets and loses things, I find it minorly tragic when you stumble across something that’s lost. You often have to rely on pure luck or the generosity of a stranger for there to ever be a reunion. In this case, I felt like I was dedicating too many resources, too much time to return a 100-dollar bill.

 

 Then one day, Phoebe called me with an update. 

 

Phoebe Unterman:  So, um, it’s been a couple of weeks. There’s been lots going on. Really?  We got some, like, we got some fun voicemails.

 

Reema Khrais: How many calls we talking about? 

 

Phoebe Unterman:  We probably we’ve gotten like maybe a dozen now. 

 

Reema Khrais: really?? 

 

Phoebe Unterman:  Yeah, lots of different things. Cute. This one, I really love.

 

Voicemail: Hi, my name is Lottie, but I’m not sure if I am the Lottie that you’re looking for.

 

Reema Khrais: Wait, but it’s not actually our Lottie. I don’t think she sounds a little bit//Lottie, all of a sudden does seem very British. My name is Lottie.

 

Phoebe Unterman:  Lottie! 

 

Phoebe Unterman: we also got this one that I loved….

Troll: Hey, my name is not Lottie, but I don’t think anybody really lost the a hundred dollars at the park. Cause why the fuck would you make papers for it?//Anyways, I got to go feed my grandma. I’ll call you later. I’m going to talk to you, give you a piece of my mind, all right. Huh? How you doing.

 

Reema Khrais: w This can’t be a real person, who is this character…

 

Phoebe Unterman:  *laughs*

Okay. And then let me okay. Then the, I got this voicemail yesterday.

 

Reema Khrais: Okay.

 

Lottie: Oh, my God, my name is Lottie and my best friend’s name is Francesca, but we call her Frooks. So that is my $100. I cannot believe how much effort you put into like the posters and the line and everything. So however I can get that back. Thank you so much. Thank you. Have a good day.

 

Reema Khrais: Oh, what

are you kidding me?

I’m getting goosebumps. Yeah.

 

Reema Khrais No. What!!! Wait…

we actually found her….I feel like my face is red right now. I’m like, so flushed. I’m so overwhelmed. 

 

Phoebe Unterman: I weirdly like, have I have like vaguely have tears in my eyes?

 

Reema Khrais:  I know. I feel like crying. 

 

Reema Khrais 

This may or may have not been the biggest accomplishment of my life. 

—-

 

The next day, I ended up calling Lottie and explaining everything, about how I was also documenting this for the podcast…and her excitement somehow topped mine

 

Lottie: Shut the fuck up dude. No, you didn’t. Oh my God. Oh, exciting. I’m literally  I’m like a senior in high school. Like. This is like incredible excitement for me.

 

Reema Khrais

We talked for a while. Lottie me told that her best friend, Frooks wrote her that letter. They’ve been tight ever since middle school. 

 

Now that we were in touch, of course the next step was to hand deliver the note. 

 

We decided to meet up at the park, at the exact spot where I’d found the letter. 

 

Reema Khrais:  We’re here! Hi!

 

Frooks: This is probably weird for you because you like know us weirdly…

 

Reema Khrais

Lottie showed up with her best friend Frooks. She kinda looked how I imagined, like an effortlessly cool LA teenager, with long dyed blonde hair, an oversized black shirt and bright pink shoes. 

 

They told me that they were here at the park for Lottie’s birthday with a small group of friends. I pointed to where exactly I’d found the letter. 

 

Lottie: that’s actually so weird because we always like stay on this corner and we have like TMI, but we have like a pee bush over there. ….So we were thinking possibly it could have landed in  the pee bush.

 

Reema Khrais:  Wait a pee bush? 

 

Frooks: So we, You know, there’s no bathroom here, so we’ve got uh, we stay here for a while. Where all those trees are. You can kind of walk in the back

 

Lottie: We make missions over there for sure.

 

Reema Khrais

They apparently were there for hours that day, celebrating Lottie’s birthday – hence the need for a pee bush. Lottie noticed that she’d forgotten the card when she was home later that night, she felt really bad about it, especially when she learned there was also money inside that Frooks had saved up from babysitting.  

 

I pulled out the envelope, which had been in my posession at that point for about six months. 

There was still dirt all over it. I then handed it to Lottie..

 

Frooks: Oh my gosh. Wait, it’s really, it’s really been through it. Oh my does on its size as a sticker here. 

 

Lottie: I want to read it 

 

Frooks: Did you never get to read it? 

 

Lottie: No 

 

Frooks: Oh, wait, seriously. 

 

Lottie: Oh my God.

 

Happy birthday, sweet Loot of mine. You are genuinely so MF caring and I’m so grateful to have you in my life. You’re always someone I can go to, to talk about my shit when it, which is such a special trait of yours. You’re one of the funniest people I know, like effortless, effortlessly, fucking Hilarious. And I’m not just saying that. I hope, you know, you were loved and (white out) Awesome. You truly are. Make 17, your bitch love you forever.

 

Lottie: I’m going to hang this up on my wall. I love it. And now it is 

 

Frooks/Lottie: seriously. And it has so meaning //There’s a story now//Yeah. This is like double the meaning. 

 

Reema Khrais: Well, now I have to ask, Are you making 17 your bitch? 

 

Lottie: No, to be honest,I like, because I’m like, okay. Yes. But like, it’s just like, um, I feel like quarantine sort of like changed, like, I mean, uh, but like before I’ve always sort of thinking about life before …I need to move. on.  Because like, I’ve always wanted to be 17, like 17 when I was a kid, I was like, oh, 17 like the age, like oh my God. being a teenager. And like, I thought it was so cool Um, but I’m liking being 17 for sure.   

  

Reema Khrais:  So what do you think you’re gonna do with the hundred dollars?

 

Lottie: I don’t know. I think I might spend it. I have to redo my roots desperately, as you can probably see. I think I might spend it on my hair stuff because I really need to redo my hair. I’m might buy some clothes even though I need to stop with that. Probably going to spend it really fast. 

 

Reema Khrais

Lottie was happy to get the cash, but she wasn’t so interested in talking about that. She seemed to care more about the card…and this serendipitous event. The fact that she and her friend Frooks now had this weird shared story…

 

Reema Khrais: So y’all graduate in may. How Are y’all feeling about graduating?

 

Lottie: Terrified. I’m trying to go to the UK. And you, Oregon. Right? Or washington…

 

Frooks: that’s what we’re thinking right now: 

 

Lottie: so it’s kind of scary. It’s like, we’re really going to be ….

 

Frooks:….far apart. Yeah. 

 

Lottie: it’s like hard to imagine making friends like with the same level of connection.  I fear that no friends are going to like amount to what we. have now, but At the same time, it’s like new beginnings. And I’m so excited to see like where you go, and what you do.

 

Frooks: Yeah obviously we’ll stay in touch and everything.

 

Lottie: Like, you’re an adult friend to me, we’re like wine sipping housewives, yeah that’s the vibe *laughs

 

Reema Khrais

It’s been almost two years now since I talked with them in the park. Today Lottie goes to college in England and Francesca goes to school in Oregon. They tell me they still talk all the time, that even with the distance, they consider each other best friends. 

 

I still find it pretty wild that I was able to return her gift. Also what are the odds that I’d stumble across this money. I think when you find something valuable that’s not yours, it can feel very strange. Like you’re excited, but also confused, like what’s the catch here…

 

This story you’re about to hear from Snap Judgment made me think surely someone is gonna jump out and say “gotcha” – cause what happens is pretty unbelievable. I hope you all enjoy it and in the meantime we’ll be back with a new This is Uncomfortable episode next week. Alright here’s the host of Snap Judgement Glynn Washington

 

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The team

Zoë Saunders Senior Producer
Marque Greene Producer
Alice Wilder Producer
H Conley Intern
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