$25,000 Is Its Own RewardCommentary • Opinion • money • ISSUE 40•48 • Dec 1, 2004 By Harry Wilcox Harry Wilcox I don't consider myself special. True, I helped bring a dangerous criminal to justice, but the attention I received doesn't matter to me. Call me a hero if you want, but I didn't do it for the praise. As far as I'm concerned, $25,000 is its own reward. I've been called a "model citizen." I prefer to think of myself as a "paid informer." Sure, by providing information to the authorities, I did my small part in the war on crime. But, more importantly, I got 25,000 big ones. That's no small potatoes. After I stumbled upon those counterfeiters in the abandoned warehouse, I had a choice to make: play it safe and stay silent, or go to the police. Fortunately, the feds posted a $25,000 reward, and an even better choice presented itself: tell the feds everything and collect 25 large. Sure, if I'd gone to the authorities immediately, I would've been standing up for what's true and right. But what would it have gotten me? A one-way ticket to no-reward city. No, thank you! With so many friends calling to congratulate me for coming forward, it takes some effort to remember what motivated me from the start: the money. Without it, I'd be just another do-gooder in a world full of hopeless suckers. With it, I'm something my friends and family never thought I would befinancially secure for about a year if I play my cards right. And that feeling of security is something no one can buy, unless they have tens of thousands of dollars in cash. By leading the police to that warehouse, I earned so much more than a feeling of satisfaction. I earned 25 grand! That's something no one can take away from me, unless they sneak into my house and steal all the big wads of cash from where I hid them in the... Hey! Nice try. Unless they steal the big wads of cash from... the hiding place. Or places. Not to sing my own praises, but I'm armed at all times and a hell of a shot. From the bottom of my heart, I swear I'll shoot anyone who tries to get my money. It all comes down to this: There are things money can't buy and things money can buy. And $25,000 can buy a whole lot of things, like a plasma-screen TV, a five-speaker surround-sound stereo system, new jewelry, and rims for my car, not to mention expensive dinners with a lot of expensive women and expensive booze. So, no, I don't need your kind words, thank you$25,000 is payment enough for me. Some people might say it would've been better to take the easy way out. They say I risked my life, that I should have left an anonymous tip, that I jeopardized my safety by providing my name. And they're right. I could have gone the safe, anonymous way. But that would have meant giving up something far more precious than my dignity: a big fat check made out to "Harry Wilcox." I have to admit that sometimes I think about those counterfeiters. I wonder how they feel sitting in that prison. I wonder what events in their lives led them to gamble their freedom. Most of all, I wonder if I couldn't have gotten more than $25,000 if I'd gone to them first. But, if I'm honest with myself, I know I could never do thatI don't know the first thing about extortion. At least I can sleep at night knowing that, even if a sharp operator could have made more, I made $25,000. My only regret is that I'll eventually run through the $25,000, and all I'll have left is the satisfaction of knowing that I helped make the world a better place. But maybe there'll be another criminal to put behind bars, another chance to stand up and do some good in this world, and, if I'm lucky, $50,000 in it for me next time.