The other day I made a quick run into my local Walmart SuperCenter for a few items.
It was the day before payday and money was a little tight, so as I shopped, I did a mental tally of my shopping total as I went through the store to make extra sure I stuck to my list and my budget.
I checked out and exchanged pleasantries with the cashier. All of my coupons went through perfectly (for a change).
And as I was loading my purchases into my minivan and putting my cart away, I thought to myself, “My total was less than I thought it would be. That’s weird.”
I got in the car, looked at my receipt, and saw what I did.
Oh, my goodness.
I just stole a case of Diet Coke!
The case of pop had been in the cart, and I meant to tell the cashier that it was there, but completely forgot about it and wheeled it out of the store with the rest of my purchases. I never paid for the pop, but there it was sitting in my trunk.
I know others would’ve just let it go. Walmart is a huge corporation and if they’re too dumb to catch something like this, they deserve it, right?
I knew I had to make things right. It doesn’t matter where it happened or how it happened, but when you knowingly take something that isn’t yours without paying for it, it is just plain wrong. It’s morally wrong, and it hurts the store, its employees, and consumers (in the form of higher prices). A steal is not a deal.
So I poured myself back out of my sticky minivan (it was 90 degrees with high humidity that day) and lugged the case of Diet Coke back to the Walmart service counter.
I explained what had happen to the customer service clerk, and she was surprised.
“Most people wouldn’t have come back,” she said. “Thank you for being so honest. We appreciate it.”
I knew that I couldn’t have taken a single sip of Diet Coke without extreme guilt if I knew I hadn’t paid for it. I felt so much better after I’d handed the cash to the clerk and walked out with my case of Diet Coke and a receipt.
As I left, the clerk said, “Enjoy your Diet Coke guilt-free!”
And I did.
I’m a cheapskate, it’s true. But there are some things this cheapskate won’t do, and one of them is being dishonest.