If you found a $4,000 diamond ring, would you keep it? Many would, but when a homeless man in Kansas City found a dazzling diamond ring in his change cup, he returned it to the woman who lost it – without hesitation.
Billy Ray Harris, a homeless man who was begging for change in Kansas City, Mo., usually ends up with a plastic cup full of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. But last Friday, the man found an enormous engagement ring in his cup, about an hour after a woman had dumped in the change from her unzipped wallet, KCTV5 reports.
One look at the dazzling diamond was enough for Harris to realize how expensive the ring was. If the homeless man had traded it in for cash, he could have lifted himself out of poverty – at least, temporarily. The average value of a high quality 1-carat diamond ring is more than $4,000 – money that could be used to pay for a couple months’ rent and groceries.
“The ring was so big that I knew if it was real, it was expensive,” Harris told the television station.
But rather than trade it in for cash, the homeless man held on to the ring, expecting to return it to its owner.
Meanwhile, the ring’s owner, Sarah Darling, realized that she was missing her engagement ring and feared that she would never get it back. She remembered removing all her rings because they were uncomfortable, putting them in her coin purse for the time being. Saddened by the loss of a sentimental item, she took a day thinking about how she could get the diamond ring back.
“I was so incredibly upset because, more than just the value of the ring, it had sentimental value,” she told KCTV.
The next day, Darling returned to the spot where the homeless man was begging the day before. Squatting down next to him, she asked him if he had found anything valuable.
“She squatted down like you did like right there and says, ‘Do you remember me?’ And I was like, ‘I don’t know. I see a lot of faces.’ She says, ‘I might have gave you something very valuable.’ I said, ‘Was it a ring?’ And she says, ‘Yeah.’ And I said, ‘Well, I have it.’” Harris told the KCTV reporter, whose camera was positioned where the woman had squatted.
Asked about why he decided to return the valuable diamond ring, Harris said his religious upbringing has had an effect on him.
“My grandfather was a reverend. He raised me from the time I was six months old and thank the good Lord, it’s a blessing, but I do still have some character,” he said.
And returning the ring was not Harris’ first act of kindness: the homeless man recalled several ‘lost and found’ stories, including one in which he found a retired Raiders’ Super Bowl ring and walked to the athlete’s hotel to find him and return it. Although returning the valuable items means he’s giving up the chance at making thousands of dollars, he has not been left unrewarded.
When Harris returned the Super Bowl ring several years ago, he received a free three-night stay in an upscale hotel and a “hefty reward”. When Harris returned Darling’s ring, she immediately emptied her wallet, giving all of her cash to the homeless man to thank him for returning her ring.
Harris’ act of kindness has given Darling a renewed faith in humanity, since she never expected to get back her ring.
“I think in our world we often jump to like the worst conclusion, and it makes you realize that there are good people out there,” she told KCTV.
And while many might assume that homeless people steal money out of desperateness or hold on to anything valuable they might find, some of them defy the low expectations. Dave Talley, a homeless man from Arizona, in 2010 returned a backpack that contained $3,300 in cash to a student who had forgotten it at a train station. A similar situation occurred in West Chester, New York, when homeless man John Kavanaugh found an envelope containing $1,440 and turned it in to police.
In both instances, not a penny was taken, and those who lost the cash were unexpectedly surprised to have it returned.
“I could’ve done a lot of things with the money,” Talley told AZ Central in 2010. “But none of them would’ve been right.”