As I grocery shop, I add up the purchases in my mind, keeping a running tab of the total that I hope is just a little bit higher than what I am actually spending. I round up, in other words, to cover the sales tax and make sure I am not caught unaware at the counter and with too little cash.
So yesterday, I knew something was wrong when the total came up. I told the nice cashier that something just was not right.
She printed out a small, temporary receipt, just to look and compare. Sure enough, a couple of items had not made it onto the total, somehow she had passed them over the scanner and they had not "scanned". We took them back out of the grocery cart, and she scanned them again, and the total was much closer to what I was expecting, so I paid and began to walk away.
Then I checked the receipt again. This time, I realized three things. One, she had rescanned an extra item. Two, we had still missed an item. Third, the second item, the one we had still missed, I had bought two of them, and and its price came up higher than the shelf tag price, by $0.16.
My very first thought on the item missed was, well, so what if they missed that one item, I got charged more for the other, so what. Then I realized what I was thinking and was shocked at myself. Walking toward customer service to have the extra item removed, yet thinking about not bothering to mention that the nice lady missed an item? I looked again at the item missed, that the other had come up as too much, and knew I couldn't do that. I got in line to have one item removed, and the other added.
Then let's top it off with this. I realized after looking yet again that I had grabbed, probably because they had placed it over the wrong shelf tag, the one that is actually sixteen cents higher. This happens routinely at this store, the item not actually correlating to the tag directly under it, but just a bit to the side. It is always the slightly more expensive item that has the cheaper price under it. I find this unprovable form of dishonesty aggravating, and usually look more closely to begin with.
It hit me what a slippery slope I had been on. I was about to get my money back for an item that had clearly been charged to me twice. That is fine. I had considered for a moment, at the same time, just not bothering to pay for a second item because I "thought" I had been slightly overcharged for the other one that had scanned. That is unacceptable.
If I ever step on that slippery slope down, justifying my actions, refusing to be less than scrupulously honest in all of my dealings, what will I consider doing in the future?
I had the nice lady in customer service take off the item I had been charged for twice. As I did not feel like walking all the way back there to switch out two small boxes of noodles, I also simply had her ring up that second box. The whole transaction took about 3 minutes, as there was no one in line at customer service at that moment (very unusual, but I'll take it). I got all of ninety-one cents back.
Even more, I got a lesson in self deception. I have tried to be truthfully and scrupulously honest in the small details like this, because I know once you start down the slippery slope, you can gather downhill speed very quickly, and begin justifying your actions in bigger and bigger things. Even if I had been overcharged for one item, that's not a reason not to pay for the second one. It's a reason, if that had been the case, to get them to correct the price on the first and charge the right price on the second.
Either way, you do it the right way. First time, every time.
Yes, it was only a thought that popped up, and I quashed it as quickly as it came. It doesn't matter. I am no hero for doing it -- it was simply the right thing to do. I am responsible for doing what is right, every time, in little things and in big things.
"He who is faithful in the the little things..."
I hope I always will be.
I don't want to set one foot on that slippery downhill slope.
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St. Fiacre's Day
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Victory Day, Turkey
Cameron Diaz, 1972
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Frank "Tug" McGraw, 1944
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Today in History:
European leaders, in an attempt to end war "for all time", outlaw the crossbow, 1146
Founding of Melbourne, Australian, 1835
Hubert Cecil Booth patents the vacuum cleaner, 1901
J.B. Parsons becomes the first African American judge of a US District Court, 1961
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36 minutes ago