A Mystery On My Stoop

We live in the kind of neighborhood where you often wake up to find cigarette butts on your stoop, beer bottles, maybe some candy wrappers. But what I found this morning was much more than a few stray pieces of garbage:



Honestly, if this had happened yesterday I would have just told my husband about it and let him clean it up. Not exactly fair, but he gets all the shit jobs – dead mice, really gross bugs, garbage on the stoop.

I knew he was in the shower though, dreading going back to work after a wonderful, lazy four-day weekend. I went inside, grabbed a trash bag and a recycling bag, and got to work, my bare hands freezing.

I started off pissed, imagining what kind of jerk would leave this kind of mess on our steps as we slept. Luckily it didn’t look to be gross. Whoever it was hadn’t been smoking, eating, drinking, or something worse while making this mostly paper mess. At first I just jammed the papers into the recycling bag without really looking at them.

But then I started noticing things. Like, all of the mail was from the same address. A lot of it wasn’t even opened.

Then I found a picture, with a name and age scrawled on the back in a flowery hand.

A tax return, complete with W2 forms.

A birth certificate.

A high school graduation certificate.

A receipt for a breathalyzer test.

A mother’s day card that said “TO:” on the inside, but nothing else. As if the purchaser had stopped before going through with giving it to his mom.

A funny, flirty card from a woman.

More tax returns.

Job and union benefit info.

I started sorting the papers much the same way I would my own stacks: A dozen Bloomingdale’s statements? Recycling. Sensitive financial info? Save. Receipt from Toys R Us from 2009? Recycling. Pictures? Save.

I have quite a stack of saved stuff.


There were a few other items besides the papers. There was a crate, a cell phone case, some pirated DVDs, and a can of car cleaner. Probably stolen from a car in the area, and the lowlife who took it sat on our steps in the dark, looking for anything of value – the kind of value that could make him a quick buck. Probably not the kind of thief who could do anything with a social security number and drivers license number, but they were there for the taking.

Later today I’m going to do the thing that I hate doing the most: go to the post office. I’m going to put all of the stuff I saved into a big envelope, with a note explaining where I found it, and send it to the address on all of the envelopes.

The part where I’m being kind-of a jerk? I’m not going to put my return address. Because I don’t want to have to answer for the fact that I got rid of at least 3/4 of the papers, and the DVDs and phone case. It’s going to be enough of a pain to send back this much stuff, but the voice in my head is saying “You saved more than he probably ever thought he’d get back.”

Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 0. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.


  1. Toni says

    You’re a good man Charlie Brown. :) Most people wouldn’t even bother to be that nice, so it’s good of you to try to help these people out.

    • says

      @Toni: That’s what I keep telling myself. I mean, it really would be unreasonable to mail all the stuff back – it was a lot. But if I weren’t so reluctant to get involved in a stranger’s life I would have kept the rest and included my phone # in the envelope and said “I’ll keep it for 30 days if you want to come pick the rest up.”

  2. says

    That’s seriously nice of you-most people would just dump it without even looking at what it was/is. Sucks to have your car robbed – at least they’ll get some of it back :-( and no, you can’t be expected to pay to mail all of that back!

  3. says

    And of course, Fiona coming home sick from school at noon delayed my post office plans. Hmmm…which do I hate more: dealing with a barfy kid, or going to the post office? That’s a close one.

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