Sunday, March 31, 1996
Will the new good boys get their day?

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Please understand that I already know this isn't fair, but I'm going to do it anyway.

A little over a week ago, two Anderson Township teen-agers found $10,000 in a trash bin and did not steal it. This extraordinary event made its way to the front page of The Enquirer, at least three radio stations and, eventually, onto national television. No less than Good Morning, America's Joan Lunden interviewed Matt Disher, 14, and Kris Miller, 15.

WWNK-FM gave the boys $100 each and a gift certificate to Foley's Restaurant. I think my good friend Jim Scott must have replayed the taped phone call at least 100 times. WKRQ-FM gave them CDs, Reds tickets and $100 gift certificate to the Waterfront.

WEBN-FM said it would come up with a ''fun package'' for Matt and Kris. One can only imagine what that might be, coming from the fabulous folks whose idea of fun is the Convict Dating Game, featuring real convicts, and the morning sickness billboards, featuring pregnant men.

Provident Bank gave the boys $500 each. Personally, I think Provident Bank should be investing this money in security. Call me twitchy, but I'd worry a little bit about the delivery guy servicing the ATM machine next to the trash bin. Does this happen very often? If so, could I please have a map of his route?

But I digress.

In case you were in Aruba or an ESPN trance, here's what happened. Matt pitched his Spree candy wrapper toward a trash bin next to an ATM machine. It missed, and when he bent down to retrieve it and try again, he saw bundles of cash. Now, right away, I love the idea that he was persistent about using the trash bin.

Next, the boys checked to see if it was real. They then replaced the money and called police five hours later. During that time, they said they talked about a drum set that Matt wants and some car speakers Kris covets.

I think it was probably like the period of time between when I buy my lottery ticket and when someone else wins.

Eventually, they turned in the money.

They are not heroes. They are nice boys who did the right thing - after, it would appear to me, wrestling with their conscience, a drum set and some car speakers. Hey, I'm not making any judgments. I fear that I might still be wrestling. And losing.

About a week later, two other boys, exactly the same age as Matt and Kris, chased a robbery suspect and held him until police arrived.

Justin Evegan, 14, and Donte Ulmer, 15, both of Walnut Hills, had missed their downtown bus to school when a man grabbed a woman's purse. The woman, Carolyn Johnson, was in a wheelchair outside the John Weld Peck Federal Building when a man grabbed her wallet from the purse around her neck.

Then, ''he just ran smack in front of us,'' Justin said. ''Me and Donte heard the lady saying, 'Get him, get him,' and we just jumped up and took off after him.''

That's my favorite part. It was instinctive. They didn't have time to think it over. On top of that, when they caught the guy, he threw some of the money at the boys. ''He was like, 'Here, take some of the money and let me go,' '' Justin said.

No dice.

They held him until police arrived. ''When your brain clicks, you just do it,'' Justin said.

Maybe it is what we do without thinking that is truly heroic. I've never been tested, but I've always hoped that I would automatically do the brave and honorable thing.

So, as I said, it's really not fair to compare the two incidents, assigning a greater value to reflex. Maybe it's simply good news and better news. I'm not sorry that the two kids from Anderson got so much attention.

But, Donte and Justin, I hope you get your 15 minutes of fame and more. I hope your family and friends and radio and television fawn all over you. And I have only one more thing to say: I want to be just like you when I grow up.

Laura Pulfer's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393 or fax to 768-8340. She can be heard on WVXU-FM and as a commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition.