These Students Never Expected Their Couch To Hold A Hidden Treasure
Whenever you buy something used, you always run the risk of getting an unexpected surprise. Take, for instance, buying a used car: it doesn’t matter how many times you look at it before purchasing, as soon as you buy it, you realize that there is some flaw or problem that you hadn’t previously expected.
It was with this same mentality and suspicion that three college students in New York went into a Salvation Army store to purchase a couch. Doubt and worry filled their minds, but they ended up getting the couch anyway. After all, it’s just a couch; what could possibly happen? Well, these students got much more than what they had bargained for, something which made them re-evaluate the very moral fiber of their being.
Lara Russo, Reese Werkhoven, and Cally Guasti had been friends for as long as they could have remembered. The three met at school, and over the years, developed a strong friendship and bond with each other.
Considering that they were such good friends and really got along well with each other, the three decided to rent an apartment together in New Paltz, New York, an area which is a little under 80 miles to the north of New York City.
What They Had In Common
The three friends had a lot in common: for starters, all three had pursued higher education. For example, both Lara and Cally graduated from college, whereas Reese was in his third year studying Geology. The three felt that their apartment was in need of a drastic makeover.
They were already transitioning into being young adults, and it was time to fill the empty spaces in their lives and in their home. What did they do? They went looking for a couch to fill the void in their living room. They felt that it was the perfect piece of furniture to liven up their living space.
Living On A Budget
As we all know, both students and recent graduates live on relatively tight budgets which make enjoying the finer things in life exceedingly difficult. Given that Reese was a student, the friends’ budget wasn’t lavish, to say the least.
Still, they were determined to get something which would add some life to their dull apartment, something which would be a monumental fixture for their transition into adulthood. With such a modest budget, their search led them to a rather unexpected place.
One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure
Their search for an affordable couch brought them to none other than where? The Salvation Army’s store for secondhand items. Not exactly the ideal place you’d want to get a couch, but with such a small budget, they didn’t really have a slew of options from which to choose.
Upon inspecting the measurements of the couch, the three deduced that it was a perfect fit for their living room. However, there was a catch.
A Great Price Doesn’t Always Mean A Great Product
Although the couch was very affordable, it didn’t quite meet the grade when it came to aesthetic appeal. To put it plainly, the couch was ugly. To make matters worse, the couch had an odor which was unsavory, and that’s saying it nicely.
Here, the three friends had found a couch which would make any interior designer’s skin crawl. Would the sofa’s budget convince them to ignore its ugliness and foul stench?
Early Warning Signs
Apart from being ugly and having a weird smell, there was also something pretty strange about the couch: it had lumps all over it. Clearly, this was a used couch which looked like it had seen the worst of it. Still, in desperate need of a budget-friendly couch, the students decided to purchase it.
After all, it was only going to cost them $20, what was the big deal? The three friends bought the couch and brought it home with them, unaware of the treasures within the couch simply waiting to be discovered.
Not A Perfect Fit
Having moved the couch into their living space, the three friends were marginally satisfied with their purchase. While they were able to fill the space in their living room with a much-needed piece of furniture, all of them agreed that that couch would have never been their first choice had they walked into a store to purchase one.
Out of all the used couches they could have purchased, they got landed with the worst possible one. It was ugly, smelly, and was full of lumps. That said, it only cost $20, so it couldn’t have been that bad.
Expect The Unexpected
All three students were aware that buying a used couch came with certain risks. When people buy used pieces of furniture, they do so with the belief that while they’re not exactly getting something in optimal condition, they aren’t exactly buying a piece of garbage.
There have been cases where owners of second-hand furniture discover that what they bought was infested with pests and other unwanted insects. Surprises always abound when you buy something used. Still, what these friends discovered would turn out to be a real shocker!
Breaking In The Couch
With their couch successfully installed in their apartment, the three friends had to break it in to see whether it was as bad as it looked. While it wasn’t exactly the most comfortable couch in the world, it did the job.
It was a decent addition to the house, and thankfully, it wasn’t infected with pests. With their new couch, the friends had a central space where they could sit and chat with each other. If they had friends over, while it wasn’t ideal, at least they could offer them a place to sit while they mingle. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked.
As the days turned into weeks, the friends used the couch intermittently. It was becoming very uncomfortable to use. One night in April, specifically, (about a month after they had brought the couch home), the three students were sharing some quality time together while seated on the couch.
They were watching a movie. They tried to bond, but the discomfort from the lumps of the couch really began to put a damper on their moments together. After some time, they got so uncomfortable that they decided to take the couch apart to find out why there were so many lumps. What they found will shock you.
Tearing It Apart
Before they could go about taking apart the sofa, they had to first identify the problem, after which, they would know where exactly to tackle first. After some inspection, they realized that although the lumps were found along the sweep of the couch, the first thing they’d have to do is to fix the couch’s arm. It had a huge lump which really made it difficult to get comfortable.
Initially, they thought that the lumps were due to some internal material stuffed into the couch which somehow got loose. It was, after all, a used couch: anything could have happened. Reese was the brave soul who went inspecting the couch hoping to find an opening to help him remove the wad of stuffing. He was greeted with a zipper, one which led him to make a fascinating discovery.
As Reese continued inspecting the couch, he found a zipper. His hope was that it would lead him to the source of the lumps. Little did he know that he was in for a whole other surprise.
He pulled the zipper back, and to his amazement, he didn’t see anything remotely close to what he was expecting to see, namely, couch stuffing or some type of faulty design. What could have been the surprise awaiting Reese and his friends?
The first thing that Reese noticed was that there was a wad of bubble wrap stuffed in the couch. That bubble wrap was encasing a small brown envelope which had been shoved into the couch, most likely by the previous owner. Due to the fact that the envelope was shrouded by this thick shield of bubble wrap, neither Reese nor his friends were able to discern the contents of the envelope by looking at it.
Curiosity and interest began to take over: what could this possibly be? Was it an ancient relic lost in time trying to find it’s way home or was it just a mere piece of junk? There was only one way to find out: with bated breath, the three friends proceeded to unravel the protective layers of bubble wrap surrounding the envelope. Then, they opened the envelope: it took every ounce of energy and strength to keep the friends from keeling over in shock at what they found.
A Surprise Gift
The students could not believe what they had found: when they examined the contents of the envelope, they discovered a huge sum of money unfolded right in front of their very eyes: $4000, to be exact. It was a miraculous, unbelievable discovery. For Reese, this was simply incredible.
The most he ever salvaged from a couch was 50 cents strewn about carelessly: to find $4000 by chance was something completely out of his mind. Now, the friends were beginning to see the bright side of buying an ugly, smelly couch: it had brought them good fortune! Little did they know that there was much more in store for them than just $4000.
Joy, Joy, Joy
Thrilled with the discovery of finding a wad of cash, the students continued their search of the couch for more money. There were several lumps all over the couch. Given that one of the lumps had given them a large sum of cash, what other good tidings could the other lumps bring these students?
For them, the thought of having so much money at their fingertips simply drove them insane. They weren’t exactly rich, so the idea of having some extra cash coming their way was a blessing. With that in mind, they ravaged the couch for more wads of cash.
Blessings Upon Blessings
Their hunch was right: their search led them to more envelopes stuffed in the couch containing wads of dollar bills. Talk about luck and chance! To think that a moldy old couch could have been a bringer of such fortune was never on any of these tenants’ minds.
By the end of their search, they had amassed so many envelopes filled with cash that they were just in awe. This entire month, they had literally been sitting on a goldmine: it was right under their noses, yet they didn’t know it until now. Where did all this money come from? Why did it come to them? What should they do?
An Impressive Fortune
Brimming with excitement and running off of the adrenaline of making such a stunning discovery, the three friends compiled all the envelopes they had found and began to count their cash. $100 and $50 bills rolled out like a seemingly infinite slew of dice. After they had finished counting, they were in complete disbelief.
That same couch which they looked upon constantly with disdain, disappointment, and disgust had just given them $41,000! Absolutely unbelievable! They were so shocked by the discovery that they screamed out in joy! Thoughts and ideas of what to do with the money began to swarm their minds. But, the couch had a little more to it than just the money.
So Many Things
Sometimes, when people have recently acquired wealth, they end up finding ways to spend the money, even if there might not even be a need for it. Somehow, the three friends managed to get a hold of this same mentality. Ideas began to flood their mind, almost as if their very essence begged them to blow the money on any and everything imaginable. It was so unbelievable to them that it was like a dream.
Speaking of dreams, Reese wanted to use the money to fulfill one of his own dreams. He had always wanted to buy his mother a new car, as the one that she was driving wasn’t anything to shout about. Then, there was the fact that they all had enormous student-loans to pay back. Somehow, the money just kept getting more and more attractive. Then, they stumbled upon the final gift from the couch, one which put a unique spin on the entire discovery.
More Information In The Mix
Cally, being the meticulous and wise woman that she is, decided to do a second-search through the envelopes to make sure that they didn’t miss anything important in their initial search, and boy did they! Cally found another interesting discovery which would put a serious damper on all the plans they had conceived. There was one more envelope which was left unopened.
Inside that envelope, the three friends found a piece of parchment with writing on it: it was a bank deposit slip with a name written on it. In all the hustle, excitement and joy, they didn’t realize that there was a key part of the puzzle. How would that affect their decision to spend the money knowing that it might very well belong to someone else?
With the revelation that the money may, in fact, belong to someone else, the three friends immediately lost any and all hope of spending the money on personal projects. Now, the situation became a lot more complex than it had been initially, with morality and guilt now playing a huge factor. Now knowing who the cash belonged to, they had to make a few tough decisions.
Should they track down the beneficiary in order to return the money to that person, or should they use the money? After all, finders keepers, losers weepers, right? Besides, whoever originally owned the couch would not be able to track them down. The part which bothered them, however, was the fact that they think they were aware that the money wasn’t their’s, and, to make matters worse, they now know to whom it belongs.
With the new-found evidence, the three began to seriously question their morality. Should they take the money, or should they turn it in? Stressed and divided, Lara decided to contact her mother so that she could better advise them as to what to do. She hoped that her mother would have been able to rationally think of the right thing to do considering that she was older, wiser, and more mature than the three students.
Lara expressed to her mother the possibility that the money might have originally belonged to a bad person, someone who had done so many atrocious things in life that he or she might not even deserve the money. Her mother reminded her about the importance of having a stable, steady moral compass. However, she also stated that if the rightful owner was indeed a bad person, they wouldn’t have to return the money. With that, Lara was completely divided.
The First Step
In the end, the three friends trusted their moral compasses and decided to begin the search for the rightful owner of the cash which was stored away in the couch. The name on the bank deposit slip became such an important clue in discovering the owner’s identity.
Because Reese was busy at work, his mom helped him by scanning the directory for the name of the person listed on the deposit slip. As soon as Reese got home from work, he made the call to the woman. Was she going to answer? If she did, how would the conversation with her go? Would she think that they had stolen her money? Questions and fears began to flood Reese’s mind.
After what seemed like an eternity of waiting for someone at the other end to pick up the phone, somebody answered the call: it was a female. Reese proceeded to relay the story of the couch which he and his friends had purchased and how they ended up finding the wad of cash stuffed in the couch. He stated that he believed that the money belonged to her since he found a deposit slip with her name on it.
The lady couldn’t believe it. She was absolutely dumb-founded. She stated that the money belonged to her and that she needed it desperately. However, something about Reese’s conversation with her didn’t sit well with him. There was something fishy about the woman and the way she spoke to him: something wasn’t quite right.
The Search Begins
The friends set out in search of their mystery woman. Still, something just didn’t feel right about the entire situation. Reese was under the impression that the woman was rather brief with him on the phone. Furthermore, she didn’t seem very moved by their efforts, nor did she exhibit any joy or happiness that they had found the money which she claimed to have hidden in the couch.
The students were really divided: was this woman with whom Reese spoke truly genuine, or were they about to squander their recent fortune on someone who wasn’t the rightful owner? Furthermore, what was up with that woman’s tone on the phone? In any event, Reese managed to organize a date with the woman with whom he spoke so that they could meet in order for him to return the money. As they made their way to see her, doubts continued to flood their minds.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
With heavy hearts and troubled souls, the three friends made their journey through the Hudson Valley and headed to the address given by the alleged previous owner of the couch. They just couldn’t shake off that odd feeling in their tummies: what if this person were a fraud?
Would their intuition grant them the ability to discern whether this woman was genuine or a mere imposter? How would they react if the woman behaved violently? Would they be able to flee the scene in a hurry, or would they be caught in a dramatic fight?
When the three friends got to the address provided by the woman with whom Reese communicated, the first thing they noticed was that the area wasn’t exactly the most inviting of areas.
Clearly, this zone had really gone through some trials and tribulations. Everywhere they turned, signs stating “Beware of Dogs” were featured on practically every household in the neighborhood. They eventually got to the house they were expected to meet the woman at. Although they were unsure of what might have happened, they knocked on the door and waited for a response.
A Change of Heart
This was a crucial, heart-wrenching moment for the three friends. Every second they spent waiting at the door for someone to answer felt like a year. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the door opened; standing in front of them were two women, specifically, the daughter and granddaughter of the woman to whom Reese reached out. They seemed to be such friendly, kind-hearted people.
When the three friends saw them, they immediately felt comfortable. They entered the lady’s household and were subsequently introduced to the grandmother, the woman who said that the money was her’s. As soon as the woman saw the bag of money, she started crying intensely. When she got a hold of herself, she then told the friends exactly how she came across the money and how it got in the couch.
A Sad Story
The friends learned that communicating with the woman was definitely the right decision to make. They also learned that there was more than just monetary value to the money which they found, but that there was a deeper emotional and sentimental bond which they just weren’t seeing. Apparently, the woman was a widow.
She became a widow several years prior to their meeting after her husband passed away tragically from heart complications. Because her husband knew that death was imminent, he gifted her sums of money weekly which he hoped she would have saved. That way, when he was gone, at least, she would have been able to survive. To store it safely, she turned to the couch.
Turns out that the grandmother had been religiously storing away the money which her late husband used to give to her. This went on for about 30 years. She stuffed the money in envelopes which she pushed into her couch, which was also the place where she slept. Sadly, as a result of sleeping on the couch, she developed back problems for which she needed to have surgery to rectify them.
She was admitted to a hospital where she had had surgery. While she was recuperating, her daughter decided to do away with the couch in order to replace it with a new bed. Little did she know that that act of kindness for her mother ended up costing her over $41,000.
A Guardian Angel
Talk about divine intervention! It was all pure luck and chance that the grandmother was reunited with the money she left in her couch. Had the money fallen into the wrong set of hands, she would have never seen it again. Thankfully, her fortune fell into the hands of honest and kind adults who decided to do the right thing.
The grandmother believed wholeheartedly that her late husband had a part to play in the way the events unfolded. She was sure that he orchestrated this brilliant scenario to get her money back. He was looking down upon her from the heavens. She wasn’t about to let the good samaritans leave empty-handed.
The students were relieved that they were able to return the money they had found to the rightful owner. They were equally happy that they stuck to their moral principles and did the right thing. Although they weren’t expecting the woman to do anything for them in return, she decided to leave them with a token of her appreciation. Out of all the money which was returned to her, she opted to give the entire trio $1000 for their honesty and for bringing back to her something which she thought was long lost.
While it wasn’t exactly as if the students had won the jackpot, they were so pleased with themselves for doing the right thing, and that was something that no amount of money could have compensated. They no longer felt uneasy: instead, they were overjoyed. There was also something much deeper which they learned from this entire experience.
Morality Trumps Money
The most important lesson which the three friends had learned from this entire experience was that the comfort of having a clean conscious and sound mind was more important than any riches could bring to them. While it wasn’t an easy decision to make, they were glad to have done the right thing.
The thought of depriving such a nice woman of what was rightfully her’s would have destroyed their minds, and they probably would not have been able to sleep soundly at night. Remarkably, they weren’t the only ones who thought that they had done a good deed.
It just so happened that the same day when the students discovered the loot of cash in their couch, their neighbors overheard them screaming and celebrating. Somehow, word traveled in their area about their sensitive and morally heart-wrenching act.
As word began to spread, they ended up landing an interview with State University’s online student newspaper. Their story gained a lot of media attention, and soon, these three students were viewed as heroes.
As the article in the student newspaper began to circulate, the three friends became extremely well-known throughout the States. Many people felt that the decision of these students to return the money to the woman was incredibly admirable and heartfelt. It touched them deeply because it’s not every day that you find people who would do something like that.
Ever since they returned the money, Lara, Reese, and Cally have kept in touch with not only the grandmother but also her family. They even subsequently made plans to have dinner together. Their act of kindness led to a bond and friendship which would surely last for a lifetime. Although this was a unique story, as it began to circulate, other stories of people exhibiting kindness and gratitude began to spread as well. Thankfully, this showed that there was still humanity in this world.
A Strange Sight
One rather typical afternoon, a photographer who is affiliated with the company “Freaktography” stumbled upon a rather interesting and unconventional sight. Well, maybe to the rest of the world, but not necessarily to Dave. “Freaktography” specializes in urban exploration, namely, examining the least-shown or least-publicized parts of civilization or of a city.
Because of the nature of work he did, for Dave, it wasn’t uncommon to see weird, out-of-the-ordinary stuff. Therefore, when the idea came out for him to photograph this abandoned house, it wasn’t exactly something he hadn’t done before. However, he was soon going to realize that it was nothing like what he had ever done before.
Something Strange Is Going On
When Dave walked into the abandoned house, he knew that something was off. Fixtures, items, and valuable pieces were strewn all about the place. All of the rooms were a complete and utter mess.
When he saw the state of the house, he couldn’t help but feel as if somebody carelessly knocked down every item in the room and didn’t bother to pick them up. Although he realized that it was an eerie place, Dave didn’t know just how scary it was going to get.
The Story Unfolds
After some searching, Dave managed to come across evidence that there were, at least at some point, people residing in the household. The clothes and photographs he found led him to believe that whoever lived in this household clearly left in a rush, and during that rush, they really ransacked the house: talk about leaving no stone left unturned!
He continued to find more weird items: marbles, tea, and even ointments; he even came across a few educational books in the fray. It was then, however, that his eyes caught something so strange and peculiar that it stopped him dead in his tracks.
A Sudden Sighting
Just as Dave was concluding his rounds of the house, he happened to spot something extremely interesting which caught his attention, namely, an old mattress and bed propped up against the wall. It wasn’t really the mattress which caught his eye, rather, the item which was stuck under it. He went to retrieve the item: he realized, to his amazement, that he stumbled upon a small fortune!
He discovered cash rolled up, tucked away safely underneath the mattress. Although he had discovered it, he also knew that the money couldn’t remain in the abandoned house. What was he going to do? Would he take the money for himself, or would he try to find the owner?
Bills, Bills, Bills
Dave proceeded to take out the several wads of bills he found under the mattress. After he counted, he realized that he had just discovered almost $7,000 in both US and Canadian currency. Attached to the bills was also a tiny paper which had a number of random dates and months spanning the 60s and 70s.
While it wasn’t exactly obvious what these dates meant, Dave understood that it was crucial to determine more about the origins of the small fortune. Although most people would have grabbed the money and run, Dave was different. He was curious to know to whom the money belonged and how exactly it ended up underneath a mattress in an abandoned house. He decided to launch a small investigation.
When Dave completed his work in the house, he immediately contacted a friend of his to tell him what he had discovered. He and his friend decided that the best course of action would have been to find out who the owner was, that way they would be able to at least understand how the money ended up in the abandoned house. The two friends conducted a small investigation on the house which yielded them a number for one of the former property owners.
When they called, a female answered the phone. It was the former owner’s granddaughter. Dave relayed the strange event where he found the large sum of money under the couch in the house. He agreed to meet up with her to return the money he had found. When they met and he handed her the sum of money he had found, the woman was so overcome with emotion that she broke down in tears. She believed that her grandparents had purposefully hidden the money. But the question still remained: why?
The Jigsaw Puzzle Completed
Initially, Dave and his friend didn’t want to pressure the granddaughter with too many questions. Apart from the fact that they were not private investigators, they also didn’t want to seem too intrusive. They simply exchange hugs and left. Only after leaving did it occur to the two that the woman’s grandparents had probably placed the money under the mattress as savings. Apparently, he learned that the couple had owned a fruit stand. He figured that the dates written on the piece of paper corresponded to the dates where they saved portions of money and put it aside as savings, specifically, under the mattress. This story, just like the previous story about Reese, Cally, and Lara, received a lot of attention and praise for Dave’s charitable spirit.