Tuesday, March 04, 2008

To Pawn Or Not To Pawn

"are you over 18?”

Saulo Castillo asked me (Jason Y.), Artist Mentor Fellow Andrew Oesch and Artist Mentor David Karoff. We asked him why and he told us about his moral dilemma. We encouraged him to write to Randy Cohen, the ethicist at the NY Times Magazine and he got a response (we have his permission to post this)!

Check it out:

Saulo Castillo wrote:

Dear Randy Cohen,

I'm 16 yrs. old and a Sophomore in high school in Providence RI. I
have a serious matter I need resolved at the moment. You see,I
found this bracelet; it's 14 carat gold, and I want to pawn it.
First off, let me start by saying I brought the bracelet to the
lost and found in my school a month ago. This was after I had asked
around to see if I could find the owner. A month later I lost my
notebook and went down to the lost and found and, sure enough,
there was the bracelet! It was still there a month later. That
technically makes it fair game in my school. Here's my dilemma; I
want to pawn it, but I don't know whether or not to make a final
attempt to return it to its owner. My idea is, if the owner didn't
look for it, maybe he/she doesn't want it. There's nothing quite
distinguishing about it, nothing that makes it stand out. No name
or address, nothing! Is it okay for me to pawn it? Or should I try
harder to return it?

Saulo Castillo, The Pawn Shop Kid

Randy Cohen wrote:

You're on the right track, just not far enough along it.

Truly lost property, which can not be reunited with its owner, is up
for grabs. But simply turning the bracelet into lost and found is
not enough to qualify the bracelet for that desired status. Before
you can rightly claim it, you must try a little harder to find the
owner -- put up some signs around the school, for example, or maybe
make an announcement over the PA in the morning.

Incidentally, I wouldn't count on a big pawnshop payoff. I'm no
expert, but this does not sound like a particularly valuable item.

In short, if it's not too late for that, you said it well: try harder to return it.


Saulo Castillo wrote:

Thank you! I know it must be hard for you to answer a lot of dilemmas. But thank you for answering mine. I'm actually taking your advice and I am posting fliers up. Next week if no one responds to my fliers I will pawn the bracelet. On a different note, I currently attend this after school program called New Urban Arts. They were the ones who encouraged me to send you an E-mail. They were wondering if you would be so kind so as to allow them to publish the E-mails on their blog. The sites they use are:



Once again Thank You!

Saulo Castillo


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