Indulge me for a moment, let's all take a look at a post I wrote in August 2008.
My ex-husband and I have brought Son up as well as we can. I'm sure we have made mistakes, the same way all parents do, but we also know we have imprinted our deepest values on him.
Son and I are currently staying in a hotel. This evening, I sent him down to the vending machine to get himself a Diet Coke. Before he got back to our room, I could hear his footsteps thundering down the hall as he ran back. (Running in hotels is something he knows not to do.)
"Amah," he panted when he arrived, "I put in the money for my Diet Coke but THREE came out. I only took one, I left the other two because I'm honest."
I told him to go back immediately and GET the other two, otherwise his honesty would be wasted by the next person to walk by. When he returned to our room, I called the front desk and explained the situation to the manager: my son had paid for one Coke, he had received three, and he wanted to return the other two to the appropriate department. The manager (who happens to be a good friend of mine, and knows Son's moral character very well) thought this was wonderful, and offered the suggestion that the hotel was so impressed by his honesty that they wanted to give him the other two Cokes as a reward for reporting this.
And I was all, "Dude, but then what the hell am I going to do with three Diet Cokes??" And, really? Why should he get a reward for doing the right thing, the obvious thing?
My child may not have had the benefit of a religious education in his life, but he does know the Cardinal Rule: Don't take anything that isn't yours.
Don't steal, because it's not yours. Don't defame someone's name, because it's not yours. Don't write graffiti on rocks, or carve things on trees, because it's not yours. Don't lie, as anything that happens because of that lie is not yours.
It's really not such a difficult concept.
But I am still filled with such, such pride when Son lives as he has been taught to live.
So, back to 2010. About two weeks ago, I strolled in to the grocery store to get a cart, immediately saw a folded wad of money on the floor, scooped it up without changing my stride, and took it to the Customer Service desk.
"Here, I found this on the floor by the carts."
"Oh, thank you, how much is it?"
Me, literally bewildered, "I don't know."
Her, counting, "Wow, it's $90.00"
"Yes, and I bet the person who lost it will be glad someone found it."
And she looked at me funny.
She said that if no one claimed it, the money would be mine, and asked for my name and phone number, which I provided, all the while hoping a phone call would never come. I mean, c'mon, ninety dollars is a lot of money.
And so here I sit on March 5, I have ignored three separate voice mails from the grocery store, all saying, "Hey, the cash is yours,come get it."
That ninety dollars might have been nothing to the person who lost it, but it might have been a lot. And in MY experience, people who aren't worried about money tend to carry debit or credit cards, not bills folded tightly in to a small rectangle.
Could I use an extra $90 that suddenly fell out of the sky and landed in my lap? Damn right I could.
But for me to keep this particular $90 would be a curse.
I do not believe that every day honesty and courtesy should be rewarded. It should be an EXPECTATION we have of each other, and NOTHING MORE.
And so, to ensure I live by my beliefs, tomorrow I will go to the grocery store, and I will claim "my" money, and I will immediately place it in whatever "please give" box they have by the cash register. Money which would be cursed in my life will become a blessing in theirs.