The Toronto of 2016 is arguably a dog-eat-dog place. The murder rate is skyrocketing and the real estate market has never been more cutthroat.
But on the 11 Bellamy bus route in Scarborough, people still do the right thing.
Like all Toronto Transit Commission drivers, Danny Clavette is required to collect and turn in to lost and found the items patrons have left behind. But Toronto police decided to give him a award anyway, in a special ceremony on Friday, because of the unusual nature of the item he returned.
On Monday at about dinnertime, Mr. Clavette was driving his route when a passenger came up to him with a backpack that another man had left behind. The bag was unmemorable, a little beaten-up, and the other rider didn't bother looking inside.
When Mr. Clavette opened it up, he got a surprise, explained Superintendent John Tanouye, the commander of the local police division.
"Usually they open it up and there's just grocery shopping or gym clothes, something like that," Supt. Tanouye said.
Peeking in this time, Mr. Clavette saw "a bunch of envelopes," Supt. Tanouye said. When he opened one, he found it was crammed with $100 bills.
The bag contained no less than $50,000 in cash. It also included a woman's obituary and perhaps another note indicating the stash of bills might be her son's inheritance. A man's passport was also inside.
At that moment, a man in his 50s was running into the local police station, "hysterical," Supt. Tanouye said. He said he needed to make a report: He had accidentally left his mother's life savings on the bus.
A TTC supervisor called the police station while the man was still there to report what Mr. Clavette had found. The man, "ecstatic" and "very thankful," was immediately reunited with the bag.
He left so quickly that police haven't been able to reach him since, and they haven't learned more about the situation.
"Don't ask me why he got [$50,000] cash, but some people don't trust bank machines, I guess," Supt. Tanouye said.
As for Mr. Clavette, he had returned every single bill. There aren't always cameras recording TTC operators' movements, so they operate on the honour system, Supt. Tanouye said. People often turn in valuables they find, but he's never seen a case quite like this, he said.
"A person that was dishonest could have kept one of the envelopes and turned the rest of them in … [or] kept the bag for a few days and see if anybody reported it," he said. "In this case, Daniel, it didn't occur to him to do anything but turn it in."
But Mr. Clavette wasn't left empty-handed: On Friday he got a Toronto police hat and T-shirt and a certificate for being a Good Samaritan.