I was at the store, returning some merchandise and then grabbing a few things while I was there. When i checked out, I used two gift cards, expecting to still pay a remainder in cash, since I had bought three shirts. I was pleased to see that the bill was not as high as I expected, and then started for the door. halfway there, I noticed the shirts were still draped over the basket, but they had been right there in plain site of the cashier. As I neared the security device, I thought Well, if these were not paid for, that thing will go off...it didn’t, so I continued on, my mind full of the next hundred things I needed to do. When I got out to the Cherryot, (the name I gave my new-to-me red Blazer) I dug the receipt out and looked it over. All the stuff in bags was listed, but the shirts weren’t on the receipt. I checked the other two gift card receipts. Not there either.
This is the part where you have to make those crucial decisions about your own ethics.
Everything had been going so well for me lately. My luck had finally shifted. All that past bitterness about always being the best person I could be, even when there was no reward and seemingly many punishments for it, had dissipated. Maybe three free shirts is my karmic reward for all the crap I went thorough, and all the times I did the right thing, even if everyone else did otherwise. Even if it cost me dearly. Even if it hurt like hell. And I thought maybe this was my little treat from the Universe.
I started to sense that gnawing little guilt-beaver in my gut…
Bullshit, came the other, more discerning voice in my head. Go pay for the shirts.
I knew that I would not have made it out of the parking lot with those shirts, anyway. I would have been watching for cops, getting paranoid…Just because I didn’t get caught, didn’t make it okay. The fact that I had a tiny moment wherein I tried to justify an unethical decision, made me feel even worse about it. That’s when I knew I musn’t ever let some misplaced bitterness alter what I believe myself to be, at my core. And someone who takes advantage of an oversight like that, is simply not who I wish to be.
I went back inside and explained it to the clerk. She touched me on the arm and said, “Thank you. Most people would have kept going.”
“You’re welcome.” I told her.
She was effusive in her gratitude, saying that it would have come out of her check. No telling what that could have meant for her. It wasn’t much, but it still mattered.
Still, I know I didn’t do it for that reason–I hadn’t even thought of that. I did it because it was who I wanted to be. I gave her the cash to settle up, and on my way out of the store, I felt lighter, and smiled. Guilt gone. Proud to be me.
Sometimes money really can buy peace of mind.