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Lindsey and I were at Trader Joe's the other day, and she taught me yet another valuable life lesson. She saw these "Inner Peas" and said she had seen a comment by her friend on Facebook that they were really good. Ringing up at a steep $1.49, we decided we'd take the dive and give them a try. However, when we got to the cash register, a really enthusiastic Chinese cashier warned us, telling us how gross they were. She had even purchased a bag herself, and was giving out samples to customers about to buy them to show them what a terrible decision they were making. Not too sure how Trader Joe's management would feel about this, but hey, we were appreciative, and we told her not to ring up the bag. She set it aside and we kept talking. She was also more than excited to give us some free samples of real fruit juice lollipops. I'd rate my check-out experience a solid 10/10.
When we got out to the car, we were pulling some stuff out of our bag to snack on, and noticed that she had accidentally put in the bag of Inner Peas, even though she hadn't charged us for it. I didn't think much of it, considering it was only a little over a dollar. However, Lindsey asked, "Don't you think we should take it back?" We were already on the road, and were headed to my sister's dance performance. After a once-a-day phone call from my mom for the last 30 days, telling us that yes, the dance concert WAS indeed on June 18th, and yes, we DID need to arrive at least an hour early, I thought it was probably more important to get to the concert than worry about the disgusting dollar snack. She said, "Let's just go back really quick...we aren't too far away." So, we turned the car around and she took the bag back in.
She came back out about a minute later, and said, "Geez, I wasn't expecting that. I walked back in and gave the manager the bag back, saying we hadn't been charged for it, and his face immediately lit up. "Thank you so much! Wow! I am amazed that you would bring this back. These are so inexpensive, so I wouldn't ever expect that. That just made my day.""
Did the $1.49 store savings make the manager's day? Probably not, considering we could have stolen 10 bags and it wouldn't have affected his paycheck. However, it was the simple and honest act, and not wanting any recognition or praise for it, that made his day. It was the fact that the deed was so minuscule, so tiny and seemingly unnecessary, but nevertheless important enough to someone to do the right thing....that's what made his day. I sat there thinking about it, and thought of how this could affect all of the people in his realm of influence. If he went to the gas station that night and they undercharged him, and he noticed it once he was out in his car, I'm almost positive he would have gone back, not because he would normally do so (well, maybe he would, maybe he wouldn't), but because of this small act. He would have at least thought twice about it, and probably gone with the more honest way.
Every day we are faced with decisions that question our honesty and integrity. Most of these deeds probably go unnoticed, but surely there are people who do notice without our knowledge of it. If we are constantly trying to do the right thing, not for recognition or praise, but just because it's the right thing to do, it very well may have a chain effect that spreads far beyond our own realm of influence. The chain reaction, or the "pay it forward" mentality, may seem silly and insignificant to most, but my wife's simple and honest decision made me think twice about where I stood on the integrity scale, and made me resolve to go that extra mile, even when it seems unnecessary or inconvenient.
Lindsey is cool.