Lauren Antosz, a senior living off-campus in Irish Flats, was found crying in the fetal position on a Debartolo Hall beanbag yesterday afternoon.
When asked about her distress, Antosz responded, “It’s gone.”
“It’s gone. Forever.”
“The Costco giftcard.”
Antosz said that while she was on her long, cold walk home from class yesterday, she found “something like a golden ticket, a buried treasure, one might even call it a pot of gold,” she said.
“What did you find?” I asked.
“I found a Costco giftcard,” she said, as she diverted her eyes to the floor to hide her tears.
She regained her breath and continued. “At first, I assumed that the card had no money left on it. Why would someone be so reckless, as to leave a valuable gift card on the sidewalk?”
When Antosz arrived home, she looked up the card’s value, out of curiosity. “When I saw a $150 light up on my computer screen, my heart stopped,” she said.
At that instant, Antosz was confronted with the biggest moral dilemma of her life.
Her mind filled with pictures of buying six-ply toilet paper for the rest of the semester, of filling her fridge with fresh fruits and vegetables, of buying bulk packs of Annie’s organic macaroni and cheese, including the White Cheddar and Aged Cheddar varieties, of munching on Kirkland tortilla chips and guac, of having enough Costco gas to drive to Salsa’s one hundred times to get even more guac.
She thought of the stir fry that she could fill with all the chicken and veggies that her heart desired. She thought of the extravagant lunches that she could pack to eat on campus – grilled chicken with green beans and mashed potatoes, or even a nice steak with sweet potatoes and charred cauliflower. Some days, she could even bring cheesecake for dessert.
Then, the computer screen brought her back to reality. Back to sneaking toilet paper rolls out of Debart bathrooms, back to waiting weeks for her avocados to ripen, back to Kraft macaroni and cheese, and back to bringing PB&J in her lunch. Back to what she must do – return the gift card.
But, must she?
Antosz said that she grappled with this decision for at least four hours. First, she turned to her trusted Magic 8-Ball.
“I asked, ‘Should I return the gift card?’ Then, I shook the ball, and the blue triangle said ‘Signs point to yes,’” she shared with me.
“But then I was confused,” she said. “What could that mean? What signs? All the signs that I saw were pointing to my future Costco trip.”
So, Antosz decided that she needed more guidance. She went to see her favorite priest, and asked what she should do in this situation.
“He told me, ‘Return the gift card. It’s the right thing to do,’” she said.
Still, Antosz was confused. She said that the word “return” has multiple meanings. It could mean return it to where she found it on the sidewalk, and then go back there a few minutes later to find it again. It could mean return it to Costco, where it originally came from, and then just take advantage of that opportunity to also redeem it for food.
Antosz called her mom. “Lauren, return it to the original owner, to the person’s whose name is on the card. It’s the right thing to do,” her mom said.
Alas, it was decided. Lauren tracked down the person whose name was on the card, and returned the gift card to him this morning. As soon as it left her hands though, she broke down, and she found refuge on the beanbag on which she still sits.
“Just like that, poof went the Valentine’s teddy bear, poof went the organic baby spinach, poof went the farm fresh 24-pack of eggs. Poof. It all went poof. Poof…” The last word is said in a fading whisper, while her hands move in a small exploding motion, as if something has just slipped through her fingers. Her eyes drift out the window, and she takes a consolation bite of her PB&J.