The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Mechanic Turns In Money He Discovered While Working on a Car

December 17, 2001

In June 2001, mechanic Oliver Joe Brown discovered $980 stuffed up under the dashboard of a car he was working on, which he turned over to his supervisor, The Press-Enterprise reported in its July 10, 2001, issue. Brown works for Southern California Fleet Services, which is contracted by the district to do mechanical work. His supervisor informed district officials about Brown’s discovery. “I can honestly say it’s the first time I have ever been slapped in the face with money,” the 41-year-old Lake Elsinore resident said. In July, the district board decided to give $100 of the money to Brown and put the rest in a fund for employee functions. “It was a testament to the quality of our employees that he automatically came forward,” said district spokesman Greg Morrison. “By putting the money in the fund, it’s a small way to repay them.” But nobody knows where the money came from. The car, a 1999 Bonneville, was purchased used two years ago from a car-rental agency. The car is the only vehicle in the district’s fleet that was purchased. Inquiries to the car-rental company have not turned anything up, said John Manhard, the district’s superintendent of utility services. Brown was working on the car to fix a turn signal on the blink. He took the bottom off the dashboard and went to get a replacement part, leaving his tools on the floor of the car. “I came back and there was a 20-dollar bill sitting neatly on my tools,” Brown said. Thinking that the other mechanic on duty was playing a trick on him, he asked, but the other mechanic denied knowing anything about it. So, Brown put the bill on the seat and went back to work. “I got back up under the dash and two 20-dollar bills hit me in the face,” he said. He got his flashlight and peered in the recesses of the dashboard and saw a wad of bills jammed in a small space. Brown pulled it out and called the other mechanic over to watch him count it. The total amount came to 49 individual bills. As to how he would spend the money, he said, “I'll probably take my wife out to dinner. But right now I’m still trying to believe it happened.”
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