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!