Windswept money triggers morality discussion
Updated: 2013-02-05 06:57
SHANGHAI - A 31-year-old migrant worker surnamed Qin is having mixed feelings of despair and gratitude regarding what has happened to him in the past two days.
Qin, who works as a delivery man in Shanghai, was riding an electric bicycle to a bank on Sunday to deposit money saved by his father, brother and himself over the course of the past year.
However, he fell off from the bicycle at an intersection, with a stack of money slipping out of his pocket. A sudden gust of wind blew away large quantities of cash.
Qin did his best but recovered just 3,000 yuan ($481), which was far less than the 17,600 yuan he and his relatives had saved.
Qin said several passersby gave about 700 yuan back to him on the spot, while several others picked up money scattered along the road and left silently.
Video footage from the intersection's surveillance cameras showed that people in two cars, as well as some electric bicycle riders, even stopped to pick up some of the money and drove away.
Sitting there helplessly, Qin did not leave until the local police came to help.
He said he intended to go back to his hometown in southeast China's Anhui province with his 83-year-old father after depositing the money, as the Spring Festival holiday is right around the corner.
However, he had to let his father go back first with an empty bank card. "I don't know how to tell him what had happened," said Qin.
"Xuankejiong," a news media worker in Shanghai, broke the story on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
His photos and pictures of Qin garnered thousands of comments within a single day. Most users voiced anger and criticized the passersby who stole Qin's money.
"I used to return my hometown for Spring Festival with the salary I'd earned for the whole year. The money is used to buy presents for parents, to party with friends and to give gifts to little kids," wrote one Sina Weibo user.
"Please give the money back to the poor man and let the family enjoy a happy Spring Festival. The money is from his father, who works as a garbage collector," wrote another user.
Some people have begun to offer help after learning of Qin's plight. Yu Gucheng, a Shanghai resident who witnessed the accident and helped Qin collect some of his money, went to the local police station and gave 900 yuan of his own to Qin.
"It's very hard for migrant workers like Qin to earn this amount of money. I just want to help him in whatever way I can," Yu said.
Sina Weibo user "xuankejiong" said in a Monday post that nearly 300 people have offered to donate money to Qin, including Xue Manzi, a Chinese start-up investor and prolific microblogger.
Local police said several sanitation workers have returned 1,100 yuan that they collected to Qin, adding that attempts are being made to contact the owners of the two vehicles that were spotted taking some of the money.
Writer Li Chengpeng wrote on Weibo that Qin had already gotten 6,600 yuan back, as well as received 2,900 yuan in donations, as of Monday.
Li suggested that those who do not wish to give the money back to Qin could return it in the form of an anonymous donation.