Over the holiday weekend, a Boston taxi driver gave a homeless man a ride to a hotel. But shortly after Raymond “Buzzy” MacCausland dropped the middle-aged customer off at his destination, he noticed that the man left something behind: a backpack.
MacCausland went back to the hotel where he knew the man was staying in the hope of tracking him down. But when he unzipped the bag at the front desk in search of the man’s ID, he made a shocking discovery: $187,786.75 in cash.
“I said, ‘Is it drug money? Is it stolen money? Is it Whitey Bulger money?’” the cab driver told the Boston Globe. “I made a U-turn and went right to the police station.”
Police examined the bag and its contents — worn clothes and papers, prescription bottles and of course, the cash. They were able to track the owner down at the same hotel, where they discovered that the man, 47, had recently become the heir to a small fortune.
“He didn’t look like he had 75 cents,” MacCausland told the Globe. But documents confirmed that the money was his.
The homeless heir, who had requested that his identity be concealed because of the embarrassment he felt regarding the whole incident, rewarded MacCausland with a $100 bill for his trouble — a sum which, the Globe noted, hardly made a dent in his stacks of cash.
The cab driver admitted to the Globe that he had considered keeping the money.
“That money would have changed my life,” he told the paper. But in the end, he decided to do the right thing.
“I knew he’d find me,” the owner of the backpack, who described MacCausland as a kind “old soul,” said. “I didn’t panic at all.”
Larry Meister, president of Independent Taxi, told the Globe that passengers often leave belongings such as keys, cell phones or wallets in cabs. And while drivers are required by regulation to return these items, Meister acknowledged that it was probably “difficult” for the cabbie to hand back such a sizable sum. He commended MacCausland, who he said “made the right decision.”
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans also plans to offer a commendation to MacCausland for his honesty, the Globe reported.
“This hackney driver exhibited exemplary behavior and his honest deed should be recognized,” Evans said in a statement. “His actions represent the high standards that our department has for our drivers.”
MacCausland told the Globe that he picks up homeless people all the time. He was once invited to the wake of a man he frequently drove. He said he doesn’t sweat the occasional fare jumper.
A lot of people have left their belongings in MacCausland’s cab during his 50 years of driving in and around the Boston area — a man once left a briefcase with $10,000, the Globe reported.
He gave it all back.