How Much are You Willing to Pay for a Case of Water?
“What’s wrong Nana?”
“They didn’t charge me for this case of water. They probably didn’t see it here on the bottom rack.”
At that moment, I had several options:
(Convenience) It would have been so much easier to just put my groceries into my car including the case of water bottles on the bottom rack of the shopping cart that had escaped the checker’s pricing wand. I could explain to them the next time I shopped there that I’d gotten home without paying for a $5.00 item and I wanted to pay now.
(Justification) Or what’s five bucks to them. I’m sure in the course of shopping there for the last 20 years, they’ve overcharged me several times. Now we’re even.
(Excuses) I really don’t have time to go back in there and stand in line to pay for something they forgot to scan during check out. I’ve got two grandchildren with me who are tired and hungry and I need to get them home and fed.
(Opportunity) Well Lord, I guess this was more than a trip to the grocery store with these little girls. You’ve set up a perfect dilemma for me to model integrity to my granddaughters. The 103* day and lunch timing could have been a little better, but character building is rarely without its challenges.
We’ve all been in the same situation. I can’t promise that I haven’t failed a few of the character tests that have been thrown my way, but over the years I’ve seen that integrity is taught so much more effectively by what we do than by what we say. I’ve also learned that integrity rarely shows up in the big decisions of life if it isn’t a standard in the little things of life.
So we trucked back into the store with my receipt and $5.00 case of water, stood in the customer service line behind the hopeful lottery players, and paid for the contraband. No fan fair, not even a thanks for coming back in. But I wasn’t going for an award just a chance to touch the future of two precious little girls.
My granddaughters are going to need all the encouragement they can get to be truth tellers and do-gooders in a world full of falsehood and self-interest. Since they were little, they’ve been told the importance of doing the right thing and now I had the opportunity to illustrate it. It was a small thing but with some huge consequences.
As it was, that lesson on integrity only cost me a few extra minutes and a couple of bucks, however, if I’d have chosen one of my other options, the price could have been very costly to the next generation under my care.
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