Have you ever found yourself doing the right thing when it was so easy not to?
Years ago while on my way to class at SIU, I stopped at a local McDonald’s for breakfast. I paid the cashier at the drive-thru window with a $20 bill and received a $20 bill and change in return.
My first thought? “Right on! I’ve got some extra money!”
I drove to school grinning at my gain.
But then the guilt got to me.
At the time, I was working at a fast food restaurant as an assistant manager and I knew if any of my cashiers came up at least $20 short at the end of their shift, it might be grounds for dismissal. Was the extra cash worth it for me? Was the greed worth someone else possibly losing their job? What if the cashier was struggling and this was their last chance with their employer?
I wasn’t rolling in money. The extra money sure would’ve helped, but at what cost?
I only had one class that morning so on my way back home, I stopped at the McDonald’s and went inside.
“Can I speak with the manager?” I asked. The cashier looked at me with wide eyes. As a manager myself, I knew almost 100% of the time when a customer asked for the manager, it meant something was wrong.
“How can I help?” the nervous manager asked.
“I went through the drive-thru this morning and the cashier gave me $20 too much money.”
He misunderstood what I was doing and thought I was asking for more money back.
“No,” I said, “He gave me too much in change. I need to return this.” I handed him the $20 and turned to leave. A customer in line stopped me.
“You did the right thing,” she said, smiling at me as I left.
The money would’ve been great, but the cost to the cashier was not worth it. They would’ve never known where the money went and I would’ve gotten away with it. But in the end, I decided it wasn’t worth the trouble it would’ve caused the other person.
I don’t share this to brag or gloat, but to inspire others to always do the right thing, even when no one would know if you got away with the wrong thing. In the end, it’s worth it. I promise.
How about you? Any cool stories when you did the right thing though you knew you could get away with the wrong thing? Feel free to share! Or maybe you were the recipient of someone else’s kindness. Let’s brighten things up a bit, shall we?