Honesty is the Best Policy-Maybe

Lawrence - Green Bay, Wisconsin
Entered on April 29, 2009
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: integrity

Honesty is the Best Policy-Maybe

When I was 9 or 10 years old I stole a bag of licorice from the local grocery store. When the clerk left the checkout to go to the back of the store, I grabbed the candy from behind the counter. The woman, who knew me and my family, returned and confronted me as I was walking out the door. I insisted that I had bought the goods elsewhere and of course, she knew I was lying. She let me go and while I was off the hook, the guilt I felt wouldn’t allow me to enjoy it. Besides, it was black licorice. I hate black licorice. To this day, I can’t eat the stuff.

My over active conscience has more than once created interesting times for me and more importantly, for my children. I would always return too much change, tell the clerk when I wasn’t charged enough or even take the $20 bill found on the sidewalk back into the store or gas station and give it to the attendant. What happens to it after that, I figure is on someone else.

Today as adults one of the kids will occasionally call and complain, “Honest dad just cost me ten bucks. Yeah, I took the money back.”

Recently I went shopping for some dress clothes, buying a pair of pants and an overcoat. The store was busy and a manager opened another checkout to accommodate me and the many others standing in line. She became distracted and I, in a hurry, just signed the credit card receipt and left. It wasn’t until I reached my car that I realized I had not been charged for the coat.

I knew the time spent to straighten this out would put me way behind schedule and I really wanted to leave. But, me being me I had no choice but to go back and pay for it. Afterwards, the customer service manager expressed her renewed sense of faith in humanity and I walked out with a clear conscience, and a 15% discount.

Although I should know better, every now and then I still have to test it and when confronted I will fess up and fold like an old tent. I once told an IRS auditor, “Well, it sounded like a good idea at the time.”

About a month ago, I received a shipment of books that were ordered from an online bookstore. Everything was fine, that was exactly what I requested. Ten days later I received another shipment, the same two books. Obviously I hadn’t ordered duplicates and my credit card statement confirmed that fact. A later statement however, did show a charge and the company promptly corrected the error while I returned the books.

I originally had a different ending to this that was much more interesting but-not quite correct.