When a Brinks representative asked Pat Wesner to stay low profile after she returned the $11,000 which had fallen off one of the company’s trucks last week, she was happy to comply.
Little did she know that by the end of the day, she would be a national news sensation.
“I figured it’s 15 minutes of fame — I’m glad that mine is from being honest,” said Wesner, who is the director of the Pember Library and Museum.
Four television stations had come to her house by the end of the week and she was also interviewed by and featured in various radio stations and newspapers as far away as London. The Huffington Post even named her as person of the day.
She believes local media were able to pick up the story on police scanners and she said they had no problem finding her, and quickly. In Florida, her father’s local paper was somehow able to make the connection and interview him about his daughter’s tale.
Though Wesner said she was pretty tired by Thursday night, she is glad her story got so much coverage and stimulated conversation about ethics.
“It’s great people are talking about it; they need to talk about what’s right and wrong,” she said.
Wesner and her husband were surprised to overhear a couple next to them talking about the incident in a restaurant last week. The wife said she would’ve done the same as Pat, but the husband said he would’ve kept the money.
“Why do they feel like it’s theirs?” Wesner asked, adding that honesty pays off. “My friends know me, and it’s more important to me to know my friends and family would’ve done the same thing,” she said.
As far as accuracy, Wesner said her story was misconstrued here and there.
“One of the headlines was I’m broke. I’m not broke,” she said, but she feels the core lesson from the incident is a valuable one. “The original message is a really good message and that’s what people need to think about.”
In addition to setting a good example, Wesner’s act has helped bring the nonprofit Pember into the spotlight. Various people have already donated nearly $300 to the museum, and a man in Warrensburg is donating his services to redo the organization’s website.
Additionally, Krystal Chrysler in Warrensburg offered to repair Wesner’s tied-down trunk, after hearing that a man at the dump had jokingly told her she should have used the money to do that.
People from all over the world have also been emailing Wesner to commend her good deed and she said she was touched by an editorial praising her in the Post Star.
“It’s really important to be thought of as an honest person. A lot of people say they would’ve thought twice about it,” she said.
As far as a reward, Wesner said she has not yet heard anything directly from Brinks.