Honesty Shouldn’t Be So Hard To Find

I stopped by Babies’R Us last night to pick up a few items for my  daughter. While checking out the Assistant Manager named Darrin asks me if I want to join their Frequent Buyers Club and qualify for discounts. As there was no cost to join and it only took a minute, I said yes.

The only thing was that the purchase I made didn’t get credited in my new account so I would have to go to their online website, click through three pages, create ana online account and insert a 20 digit receipt code, to get my credit.   There was no way I was spending another second on this let alone to create yet another online account somewhere and have to keep track of it.

I asked them if they could just void my sale and then do it again immediately, but this time under the new Frequent Buyers account. Very quickly the young sales lady did this, and handed me the new receipt saying, “This is your new receipt.”

I quickly thanked them and grabbed my items and headed towards the door. As I was about to go out the door, I noticed the new receipt said $0.00 on the bottom. I paused and looked at it again. This didn’t seem right as it should have said $34.

I stopped and called over to the sales people and said, “Are you sure you charged me? This receipt says $0 on it.”

The lady quickly explained how crediting back the old and buying the same new, leads to a “zero exchange” which is what the receipt reflects.


I quickly responded, “Yeah Darrin. And believe it or not, I actually live my life that way…”

On the drive home I thought about the exchange. Particularly I thought about what a pathetic statement it is about our society that my honorable gesture stood out so much that it got that surprised response from the Assistant Manager, even in a Baby’s-R-Us store. Clearly he, like many store owners, do not expect customers to be honorable in these circumstances. I’ve heard enough stories to understand why.

There are two considerations that always go through my mind:

1) What would be Grandfather have done in this situation?

2) What would I want my daughter to see me do and thus learn to do herself?

The answer becomes for me, a no brainer.

I have many conversations about these kinds of things with the kids I work with, many of whom  have friends who shoplift or cheat in various ways all the time, and some of whom do it themselves.

Some of the most disturbing stories I have heard in my practice in the past few years are the stories about parents who make far more money than I do, not modeling this kind of behavior for their kids. I’m sure these parents would be embarrassed to know that their kids talk about this side of their life with me, at least I hope they would be.

I am grateful that these kids do bring this up with me though. The fact that a 15 year old is still struggling with defining morality and ethical behavior when their parents no longer do means there is still time and more importantly, still hope.

Far and away the most common thing that those who work with me share, are parents who are determined to raise their kids with their more traditional honorable values, even in a culture that often times does not and when it is made especially challenging because other parents around them are not living by these same values.

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