Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

The Right Thing

A funny thing happened to me the other day. Something that really made me think. I was out shopping for Xmas presents, always a fun task this time of year, and I found a great present for a special someone (who will remain nameless since it’s not Xmas yet). It was a little on the expensive side, but I decided it was worth it because said person is kinda hard to shop for. So… I’m at the checkout stand and the lady ringing me up asks if I would like any gift receipts. I decide that I should get a gift receipt for this particular item… just in case. Well, the cashier pulls out the item and realizes that it has not actually been rung up. So basically, if I had not asked for the gift receipt, I would have walked out of the store not even realizing that I was walking out without paying for that particular gift. Here’s where the interesting part comes in… I was really mad at myself for asking for that gift receipt. I noticed my inner voice seriously ripping me up one side and down the other. Why couldn’t I just keep my mouth shut? There were other presents I was buying… why couldn’t I have asked for a gift receipt for them and not the item that I was about to get for free???

As these thoughts were playing through my head a question occurred… would I have kept that item and not returned to the store to let them know I’d gotten it for free? Would I have justified it as the cashiers error and not taken responsibility? Maybe I could rationalize that the universe was looking out for me? Well… it really made me think twice. I would never consider walking into a store and stealing something… anything… let alone an expensive item that I would be giving to someone as a gift. Yet, somehow the fact that this error was the cashier’s doing – and that potentially no one would know or blame me if I were to be “caught” was allowing my mind to rationalize and make it ok. Why?

Who are we when no one is looking and what does it have to do with spirituality? Isn’t that inner voice supposed to be the one guiding me to do the right thing? Maybe that voice was out shopping, too, and realized we were going to need some extra cash to cover all the Xmas spending!! I like to think of myself as an honest, ethical person who doesn’t have to try all-that-hard to do the right thing. and yet, there I was. Maybe life gives us these little opportunities to see how our spiritual souls are progressing. I like to think that I would have gone back once I found out that the item hadn’t been paid for. I guess I won’t know for sure… until the next time a little test gets thrown my way!

What would you do if a cashier sent you home with a “free” item? What if you realized right as it was happening… would you say something? Post a comment and let me know! I’ve actually done the “right thing” before and spoken up, but in the back of my mind there was this little voice saying… ahhhhh… you almost got away with something there! Who was that? My true self without cultural constraints? My bad side? Does it really matter if, in the end, I make the right choice?

Another thing dawned on me as I was writing this blog… now that I have kids I find it so much more important to model what I feel are the right actions. Thank goodness for my little people that keep me honest and doing the “right” thing… most of the time!

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6 thoughts on “The Right Thing

  1. Just doing the right thing…by whose standards? My own…strive for integrity – that means knowing my values in life and behaving in a way that is consistent with these values. Thanks Rashel. 🙂 L

  2. I have walked out of a store with a "free" (cashier forgot to ring it up) item and not realized it until I got home, and not done anything about it because it would be too much of a pain to go back to the store and reconcile.I have also walked out of a restaurant and forgotten to pay and not realized it until I got home. In this case, I called the restaurant and gave them my credit card information.In both instances it was about convenience, for better or for worse.I agree that there in these types of situations there is generally a right and wrong thing to do, but I'm not going to knock myself out to always do the right thing. I also happen to believe that everything balances out in the end. That's just the Libra in me 🙂

  3. We all think about it. But most of us will do the right thing. The first thing I thought about when I read this was that I am really getting tired of covering for people. we all make mistakes. But people need to be accountable for their actions. how many transactions did that person screw up? When I buy something, I pay attention to weather the person can actually count change or just goes by what the register says. I know that counting change is a lost art. Example… We have a ToGos that I go to lunch sometimes. There is a old dude that works there.(My age). I get the feeling that he lost his job, and this is what he could find. When he takes an order, you can actually see that he pays attention to what you say. He takes pride in MAKING A SANDWICH! never makes a mistake never asks you to repeat the order. and then counts the change. Why? because that is his job. People are not afraid of loosing their jobs. I guess I look at this scenario a little different. I would tell them about the mistake just to show them that they screwed up.

  4. Oh hello anonymous comment #1… that's a whole other blog… I love it! How do we define and decide right vs. wrong for ourselves, personal standards and integrity with what we believe? Sometimes I'm not even sure I know what I believe – am I just continuing on with what I was taught or am I making a conscious decision about what's right for me? I'll make a note of it… thanks for the comments everyone!!

  5. The thought that came to my mind was "if God can trust you in the little things, He can trust you in the big things"

  6. I have been trying to live my life with "rigorous honesty" for the past several years. (Not always achieving it, I might add)…in the past I might have gone either way in your scenario, I guess depending on my mood that day. Last week I cashed 3 checks at the back. The teller counted my $ back to me & put it into an envelope. I left and went about my business. At some point, for some reason, her words came to me. I thought to myself did she say $190.00? It was supposed to be $170.00. I drove back to the bank and returned the $. It made me feel good that my true, honest reaction was to return the $. Definitely progress from years ago. XO Mama

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