Advice Column: Response to KC

Dear Hailey,

Many years ago my then girlfriend (whom I shall call “Tara”) knew I liked those outdoor thermometers which are in the form of a famous soda pop brand. An elderly woman who Tara cleaned for once a week had one of those thermometers attached to the side of her house. Tara gave one to me for my birthday. I asked where she got it because it looked used. She said she stole it from the elderly woman she cleaned house for.

I wrongly kept it because I was afraid if I returned it to the rightful owner I would get Tara fired and possibly arrested. It’s still in my possession today. I know it’s not rightfully mine and I’m stricken with guilt from time to time when I look at it. The rightful owner surely is deceased and I forgot her name anyway. I’ve even forgotten the exact location of the house. With no name nor location to return the thermometer to, what should I do with it? It may be a small thing in the scheme of things in the world, but I want to make amends somehow.

Any advice? Thanks.


Dear KC,

I find it admirable that you would like to make amends after all these years. 

First of all, you need to get the thermometer out of your house. You have been carrying around this guilt for long enough. Because there is no way to return it to the original owner, you can sell it, or donate it to a thrift store. 

The next step I would recommend would be to put a positive action into the world. If you choose to sell the thermometer, give the money to a charity organization. Donate a few hours of your time to a non-profit establishment in your area. 

The last step is to forgive yourself. You did not steal the thermometer. You kept it because you felt it was the best way to protect Tara.  And it is certainly a confusing situation to handle, and something that has been in the back of your mind for years. It sounds like you have punished yourself quite a bit already. After taking these actions, you can feel good about moving forward, and not feel guilty any longer. 

I wish you luck,


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