The other day, I was shopping at a well known retailer for some supplies. While I walked down the aisles, I added items that were on my list into my shopping cart. After I finished getting what I needed, I walked down another aisle and found an amazing deal on a similar item to the one in my cart. I got it instead, and returned the original item back to where I found it. For those of you who haven’t heard, you are allowed to return unwanted goods to their previous location instead of throwing them on a random shelf.
Anyway, I went to pay for my stuff. When the item rang up, it was nearly seven times less than the price marked on the shelf. Sounds ridiculous, but it only rang up at three cents. I told the associate it was marked at twenty cents. They did their best to correct the price and called for a manager twice for assistance, but no one came. They said I could buy the item and stop by customer service afterwards to dispute the issue. So I paid for everything and got in another line to wait even longer. It amounted to alot of trouble over something small. When I got to the customer service rep, they informed me that whatever price the machine rang up was indeed the price. Even twenty cents seemed too low, but that is what the sign said. As I explained this, I tried to reason with them that three cents for the item was absurd. They told me to let it go and that it was ok for me to be on my way.
Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy saving money. However, I don’t want it to come at the expense of the employees. The odd pricing was likely due to human error. We all make mistakes and often need mercy. When someone gives too much change back to you, it isn’t a blessing from Heaven above. It’s a mistake that we should try to correct.
The amount should not matter, whether it is a lot or a little. Honesty is not really honesty when you try to shape into something else. We tend to justify things to make ourselves feel better but in truth, when you cross a line it should be obvious. So many things are now measured on a scale that has a thousand iterations between true and false. The temptation is to avoid the truth at all costs because we may not like it.
It can often be a simple decision if we are honest with ourselves and others. Sure, it didn’t make a difference in this case to the store associates. But it did make a difference to me. When I look in the mirror, I don’t question whether I can trust the person looking back at me. If you are not faithful in the little things, you won’t be faithful in the greater things. For the young cashier that is tempted to steal a dollar, if they do so, it sends them down a wrong path. They justify that the store has lots more than they do. Later on, they may go to college and afterwards land a corporate, white collar job. The temptation comes once again, only this time it’s not a dollar. It may be thousands, even millions. They justify its only a little bit from a lot of people who won’t even miss it. But the truth is, they are skimming away money from honest, hardworking people who deserve every penny they earn.
Walking the road of honesty can be slippery and it’s best to never lose your footing in the first place. When you do slip, the tendency is to keep on sliding at increasing rates until you wind up at places you never thought you would go (in a bad way). Do you want to be ripped off, anywhere, any time? Probably not. If you get short changed, would you not demand what is rightfully yours? Then give to others what is rightfully theirs. Even when it’s inconvenient, even when no one else is looking, do the right thing.