Another Story from the Human Sector

The following is a story from the Yakima, Washington, Herald-Republic:

YAKIMA, Wash. — Rob McCune thought the container looked odd when he retrieved it from a drop box at the Terrace Heights Landfill. Little did the hazardous waste technician know how unusual it would turn out to be.

After removing the locking lid, the 50-year-old McCune found himself staring at several small canvas bags, which he opened only to find shiny bars of silver.

McCune said his initial reaction was to freak out.

Somebody had turned in the container, which had a “d-Con” label on the side, believing it held rodent bait.

But there was a clue that something else might be inside: On the lid was a name and address.

That led to the grateful family of the late Robert Lynch, the well-known Yakima auto dealer, World War II veteran and community leader who died in September at age 89.

Rob Lynch, Lynch’s son, said he and his sisters had no idea the silver bars even existed. Their dad never said a word about them. The family theorizes that the elder Lynch invested in the silver in the early 1970s during the oil crisis and a period of high inflation and high unemployment.

“He wanted to have something very liquid but not the dollar,” Lynch said.

The family has asked that the exact amount of silver not be disclosed. But at the current market price of $33 per ounce, the metal represents a substantial sum of money.

Family members had taken the heavy white container, which they found under a work bench, to the landfill as they cleaned out Lynch’s home. The landfill repackages for safe disposal all sorts of unopened paints, oils, solvents and household chemicals.

McCune’s supervisors, including Solid Waste Manager Wendy Mifflin and county Public Services Director Vern Redifer, praised his honesty.

While he does feel good about the outcome, McCune, a six-year county employee, deflects the praise.

“I knew it needed to go back to the Robert Lynch family. That was what I was going to do,” McCune said Tuesday.

Lynch, who became emotional remembering his father during a telephone interview, said he was still overcome and almost speechless about McCune’s good deed.

“The thing you have to know is my dad was known as a straight arrow. I’d like to think it meant honesty no matter the circumstances,” said the orchardist. “He would be really proud of our community and of our civil servants.”

“My father would have been heaping huge praise on this guy,” he added.

McCune, a native of Canada, moved to the United States with his parents and grew up in the Seattle area. He and his wife, a native of Selah, moved to the area several years ago to care for his ailing mother-in-law.

McCune actually discovered the container’s contents last week but kept it a secret, telling only his wife and parents. The name Robert Lynch meant nothing to him and he wasn’t sure how to proceed with the unusual receptacle, so he decided to wait until Mifflin returned from vacation.

Mifflin said McCune walked into the administrative office Tuesday carrying the one-gallon bucket, telling her he needed to show her something.

“My first reaction was it better not be a snake in that bucket,” she said.

Mifflin said it was the strangest thing she had seen in her 25 years in the solid waste business. She immediately notified her supervisors and the younger Lynch’s wife.

“I’m really proud of Rob,” Mifflin said. “He did the right thing.”

I can’t really add much to this story except to say that I think most people would do the right thing.  “Most people,” however, leaves a lot of room for “many people” who would not be so honorable.  I also believe a clear conscience is worth a lot more than a bucket full of silver and it’s good to know other people feel the same way.