A number of years ago, my nephew was getting married, and he and his fiancé had registered at a number of stores for their wedding gifts. As this was a second marriage for both, they did not need “newlywed” items, and were very “specific” as to what they wanted. One of the items they wanted was a microwave. I thought this would be a perfect gift from Aunt Cat…
I made the trip to the local Walmart and found the perfect microwave. Of course, as anyone knows, you cannot go into Walmart and purchase just one item, so I ended up with a buggy full of merchandise. As is my usual habit, when it came to check out, I chose a cashier that “liked to visit” as she rang the items up for sale. (I, myself, like to chat a little as I am spending money…) So, she and I were running our mouths, a mile a minute, as she scanned each item of merchandise. I paid the amount indicated, and then made my way to the exit. Before I could get out the door, my items and receipt were checked by the “greeter” as I left the store. Of course, I was busy talking with her also….
As I was walking to my car, I had a nagging thought that the amount that I had paid just did not seem “right.” It bothered me to the point, that I stopped right in the middle of the parking lot, and pulled out my receipt to “double-check” the total. As I was reviewing the charges, I determined that although the cashier had scanned the microwave, it did not register on the receipt. To my alarm and dismay, I realized that I had unknowingly walked out of Walmart without paying for that microwave. I was beside myself!! Now, there a number of people who would have said, “Wow, their mistake…I just got a free microwave!” However, I could not do that!
I turned around to go back into the store. I ran into problems with the official Walmart greeter. The conversation went something like this…Greeter: “Honey, did you forget something?” Me: “No, I just need to go back in to pay for this microwave.” Greeter: “What??” Me: “I checked out, but the scanner did not pick up the microwave. I did not discover this till I got outside and I need to go back and pay for it.” Greeter: “You left the store without paying for a microwave??” Me: “Yes, Ma’am. The cashier scanned it, but apparently the scanner did not pick it up. I thought I had paid for it. I just need to go back in to pay for it.” Greeter: “You got to the parking lot without paying for a microwave?” Me: “That’s right! Can I just go back in now?” Greeter, hugging me: “You sure can, honey, and bless your heart!”
The next hurdle was the customer service rep. The conversation went like this…Rep: “Can I help you?” Me: “Yes, Ma’am. I need to pay for this microwave.” Rep: “You want to return the microwave?” Me: “No, Ma’am. I need to pay for it.” Rep: “What do you mean you want to pay for it? Let me see your receipt.” Me: “The receipt will show that the microwave was not paid for.” Rep: “I don’t understand.” Me: “I purchased the microwave, or thought I did, but the scanner obviously did not pick it up. I got out of the store thinking that I had paid for it, but realized that the total amount was wrong once I reached the parking lot. I came back in immediately to pay the correct amount.” Rep: “You got out of the store without paying for the microwave?” Me: “That’s right! I’m not sure how it happened, but there it is!” She looked back and forth from me to the microwave to the receipt, and finally said, “Just go over to the cashier that checked you out, and she will take care of you…and bless your heart!”
I finally arrived at the cashier who had checked me out. She recognized me and our conversation went like this…Cashier: “Is something wrong?” Me: “When you checked me out, the scanner did not pick up the microwave. I did not realize this until I got outside.” Cashier: “What??” Me: “I got out of the store without paying for this microwave. I just need to pay for it.” Cashier: “The door checker did not catch it?” Me: “No, Ma’am. I did not discover it until I got to the parking lot.” Cashier: “And you came back inside to pay for it?” Me: “Yes, Ma’am! Can we please do this now?” Cashier: “We sure can! Thank you so much for coming back in! Not everyone would do that.” Me: “I could do it no other way!” Cashier, shaking her head, with a smile and a hug, “BLESS YOUR HEART!!”
I found the entire incident hilarious, but also sobering. Is honesty so hard to be found nowadays? Is it so hard to believe that someone would “do the right thing?” The staff could not get over the fact that I actually had “gotten away” with unpaid merchandise, and came back into the store to pay for it. I was taught that you pay for what you take…no ifs, ands or buts. I would not have been able to lay down and sleep that night, or look myself in the mirror had I done anything differently. I am far from perfect, but I DO know right from wrong. People think that dishonesty only applies to large items or events…that the “little things” just don’t matter that much. My Mama used to say “in for a penny, in for a pound.” I got that message and lesson…I won’t be “in for a penny…” Won’t you join me? Just for this week….