Queen Teen and I popped into the market yesterday for eggs and cooking oil. At the checkout I handed the cashier $10.00 for the $5.20 bill. She started to count my change. "That's $90..."
I said, "Wait. I gave you a ten, not a hundred."
The woman's eyes widened. "You did?"
"Yes. You're giving me too much change." I laughed. "I mean I'll take it if you're giving it away..."
"I can't believe I did that. Thank you!"
The man standing behind me in line said, "You just passed the integrity test."
"Pardon?" I said.
"You passed the integrity test by not taking that money. You will be showered with blessings now."
The cashier handed me the right change (four ones and some change, which looked a lot smaller after a handful of twenties) and nodded in agreement with the man. The woman behind him in line smiled and said, "You are blessed."
"Showered in blessings," the man reiterated.
I thanked them and left the store, but as I we walked home I pondered that. It hadn't occurred to me that I could keep the money. I told the cashier her mistake before that thought got a chance to whisper because I knew the cashier would get in a lot of trouble if her drawer was missing $94.00. And I didn't do it out of any desire for "blessings." That whole concept that if you do something good something good happens to you bothers me. Shouldn't you just do good because it's the right thing to do? And besides, if I believed in the theory that good works create good things for the person doing them I would have quit doing any good a long time ago. I have yet to see a single blessing from my sense of honor.
I told my husband what happened and he only half jokingly said, "I would have kept the money."
His tone changed and he said seriously, "We could really use that cash for groceries."
He's right. Now that he's unemployed we can barely make our mortgage and we are now frequent users of the food bank. $90.00 bucks would have payed a bill and would have lessened some of the fear in this house. No. I refuse to start stealing to make ends meet, which is what keeping that money would have been. Theft. The money wasn't ours, period.
But who knows... if things get bad enough maybe next time I'll keep the money. I imagine that we all have our tipping point, when things get so bad you get desperate and stupid.
Luckily for the cashier, I haven't reached that line yet.