When Engin Olgaç, 31, a taxi driver at Istanbul Airport in Turkey, started cleaning his car just after a week in the morning after work, he unexpectedly found a bag in the back seat that a customer had forgotten there.
At that point, he still had no idea that in the next week, his name and face would become known thanks to the bag not only on social media, but also in magazines and TV news programs.
Always all the way to Finland.
Olgaç's previous client had been a younger man, a Finnish citizen, whom he had picked up from the airport at about one o'clock in the morning.
The man, referred to in the Turkish media as a trade horse, had needed a ride to the center, to the Laleli district known for its 18th-century Ottoman mosque.
After finding the bag, Olgaç immediately contacted the Finnish man's hotel, whose contact information he found on the Internet.
From the hotel, the customer was told he had already left for the airport, but Olgaçia was told to wait to be called back soon.
- I wondered what was in the bag.
There could have been gold, money or a bomb.
When I opened the bag, there was a lot of foreign currency, Olgaç later told the Ortadoğu news site.
The call came, and Olgaç set off to drive back to Lalel.
By this time, the owner of the money had already come to the end of the street against the driver, looking pale, according to Olgaç.
- When I went back to the hotel, the passenger was excited to see me in front of him.
He was obviously scared.
I handed him the bag.
He hugged me.
He was very happy, his world had changed in an instant, Olgaç described the situation to the news agency DHA, which immediately reported the incident.
The man's reaction is not surprising.
He had just forgotten a taxi in the back seat for as much as 300,000 euros, but got them back like a miracle in just a quarter of an hour.
The guy who accompanied Olgaç immortalized the situation of handing over the bag and the banknote stacks to the video, which soon began to spread on both social and traditional media.
- Thank you.
Thank you very much, the Finnish man thanked Olgaç in a video in English.
Hotel manager Tamer Kanar told Sabah, which reported the matter the next day, that the Finnish man was a regular customer and worked in the store.
- He is a little sad about the situation because he forgot his money in the car at the end of a long trip.
He is very grateful to the taxi driver for this.
We talked about how much the Turks care about such things, Kanar commented briefly on the case.
Olgaç urged the man to count the money, but this saw no need for it.
He handed the taxi driver a discovery fee of 50 euros.
- I am very grateful to him.
I am at least as happy as he.
I wouldn’t want to take myself money that I haven’t earned in any way, Olgaç said.
The Finnish man himself has not commented to the Turkish media why he carried 300,000 euros worth of cash.
IS has also failed to reach him.
Olgaç, who has since worked as a taxi driver for seven years, has been able to justify his honest actions in an interview, if any, even though he himself considers it a perfectly normal matter.
- I was not entitled to that money, so I handed it over to its rightful owner.
Anyone would do the same in my position.
And I would do the same myself again, even though I have 70,000 lire (about 7,500 euros) of debt to three different banks.
I took the bag to his owner without thinking of anything, he told Hürriyet.
The video below shows an interview with Olgaç on the Turkish show TV channel.
(The video is in Turkish.)
Fahrettin Can, CEO of Istanbul Airport Taxi Drivers Cooperative, told DHA that the amount returned by Olgaç is the largest amount of money he knew has ever been forgotten in a taxi.
He, too, rejoiced at its return to its owner.
- We do not declare him a taxi driver of the year, but a taxi driver of ten years.
He returned the money to his owner without even thinking about it.
It’s a matter of pride for us too, Can said.
Olgaç’s attention culminated on Tuesday when he received a special certificate awarded to him by the Ahisiad Association of Industrial Leaders and Businessmen.
Speaking at the event, Ibrahim Çam, President of the Association, said that the most important criterion for awarding a certificate of honor is to practice the profession in an “ethical, honest and committed manner”.
Olgaç's attention culminated on Tuesday when he received a special certificate of honor.Photo: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
According to Çam, Olgaç is “a typical example of exemplary behavior”.
For this reason, the association awarded him an honor whose traditions go back hundreds of years.
Olgaç, the married father of a 7-month-old baby, has been praised on social media, but has also been criticized for returning the money.
- I thank all of them too.
I enjoy being with my conscience.
I got an example from my father, and I plan to continue with the same model, Olgaç said.
IS reached Olgaç on Wednesday, but he politely refused to give more interviews on the matter.