Janet Kearney: Doing the right thing for honesty's sake
Published: Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 9:33 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 9:33 a.m.
I just wanted to make a commentary on what has happened to ethics and honesty. Why is it when you do the right thing, people are so amazed, they feel compelled to comment on how unusual your behavior is? I have had experiences like this periodically, but they seem to be happening more frequently lately, so much that it has made me take notice.
Recently I checked out at Bed, Bath and Beyond, to purchase two towels. After I left, I realized something didn't seem quite right, and I discovered that I had only been charged for one. So about 5 days later when I was there for another purchase, I produced my receipt for the towels and told the cashier that after I bought them a few days before, that I realized they had only charged me for one. She asked me if I wanted her to charge me for it, and I said yes, that it was an honest mistake on the cashier's part because the towels were balled together.
She chuckled and said no one had ever come in and asked to be charged more for their purchase.I told her I want to pay for what I got. She chuckled again and said "that's funny." I said I can sleep at night. It wasn't fair for me to take advantage of the cashier's error. I wanted two towels and was prepared to pay for two towels.
Then, more recently, I went to Fresh Market and realized that one item had been left in the bottom of the cart. The bag boy said, "I guess you get this for free." and I said "no, I want to pay for it." So I went back inside and paid for the item. The lady in front of me said, "now that's an honest woman."
I expressed to the cashier my utter dismay how often people are amazed when someone does the right thing. I could have kept the item that cost under $5 without paying for it, but I would have lost a lot more than $5 worth of sleep over the incident, so I decided long ago to live my life without regret. If someone makes a mistake and under-charges you, it should not be perceived as your due or your lucky day. It should've been seen for what I was. An honest mistake, and a person shouldn't be a party to the mistake.
I cannot justify shorting one business because I once felt taken advantage of by another at some point in the past. How did we get to this point where honesty is now a peculiarity?