PERHAM - The first thing 26-year-old Matt Bleichner looked for was a hidden camera crew.
Someone had to be setting him up, he thought, as he glanced down at the bank envelope in his hands. The outside read "$3,100." Inside, the envelope was stuffed with $100 bills.
After exiting Perham's United Community Bank, Bleichner had noticed the envelope lying on the ground, just four feet from the door to his jeep.
"It was the day we got all of that snow," Bleichner explains of the Feb. 26 snowstorm that coincided with his now surreal money-finding day.
The envelope was half-buried in the snow, and was sitting just outside the bank door on the street. Due to the cold, Bleichner says he immediately sat down in his jeep to examine his find.
"I told myself, if there's money in the envelope, you're returning it," he recalls.
Although he never actually counted the money inside, Bleichner was pretty sure all the $100 bills he discovered inside amounted to the just over three grand the outside of the envelope detailed.
He knew what he had to do next. Bleichner walked back into the bank and returned the cash to a bank employee at the teller line.
"He said he didn't even think about it," recalls United Community Bank cashier Peggy Wilcox. "I think he is an exceptional young man. He did a wonderful thing with being as honest as he was."
It would have been easy for Bleichner to make off with the cash, and quite likely that no one would ever find out who took the misplaced money. Yet, Bleichner never even let himself consider that possibility.
Those who know Bleichner find little surprise in his good deed.
"He always talks about karma," says Katie Murdock, manager of the Perham Ace Hardware store where Bleichner is employed. "It's definently his character to return something like that. He would never forgive himself if he didn't."
Bleichner has worked at Ace Hardware for the past four years, and also goes to school at Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Detroit Lakes.
"He's a trustworthy employee," continues Murdock, "knowing he's done that just kind of backs that up."
Bleichner returned to the bank the Tuesday after his impressive find, and was greeted with a warm welcome. "The bank ladies kept giving me hugs and thanking me when I went back into the bank," he says, revealing some embarrassment over all the hoopla.
The bank did tell Bleichner that the individual who lost the envelope, and was no doubt immensely grateful, had returned to the bank and claimed the missing money.