Honesty Costs

Today, being honest cost me $1.79.

I was at McDonald’s. Ordered a sausage biscuit and a large Coke. Breakfast of champions. I was charged $1.07. I saw the receipt and just thought she had forgotten the Large Coke. But then she handed me the cup. I kind of blinked at her. $1.07 is about 1/3 of what it should cost. After a second or two it was obvious she wasn’t going to realize her error, so I mentioned that I had not been charged for the Coke.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take it for free, but you didn’t charge me for it.” I said.

So she rung up the Coke and I made a second transaction for $1.79.

There were several people standing around the counter, I got the feeling at they were all looking at me like I was an idiot. I mean, hey, wasn’t my mistake. But for me, that whole sin of omission versus commission is pretty clear. If the cost of integrity is $1.79 today I’m OK with that.

Sometimes it costs more. My wife told me about something my son said the other day. He was at church, and was asked to give an example of someone being honest. He told a story of a trip to the farmer’s market a couple towns over. We were walking around, and I saw some cash on the ground. Turns out it was quite a bit of cash, over $100. We didn’t keep it, we turned it in.

I could have used that cash. The likelihood of someone coming back to that spot and asking the vendor if someone has turned it in was very slim. But it wasn’t mine. It was the right thing to do, so we turned it in. You never know if your kids really learn from watching you in those moments until later. What’s his example of integrity? Turning in a wad of $20s.

Sometimes honesty costs more than money. What’s it worth to you?