13 August, 2007

Imprints

We are who we are because of the people and experiences that have left imprints on our lives. I've had many life-teachers, one stands out as a bright and shining example of honesty and integrity; I don't even remember her name. When I was twenty-one years old I worked for The Singer Company at Tippecanoe Mall in Lafayette, IN; I was the bookkeeper. The store was open from 1 PM until 5 PM on Sundays, every once in a while I had to take my turn on a Sunday shift. One such Sunday I was working along with a fellow employee, John. He didn't much like working Sundays, either; he was a service technician and was as eager to close out that afternoon in March as I was. It had been a slow day and as we we approached closing time, I was cutting fabric for a lone customer. John slid one of the front doors closed at five o'clock and closed out one of our two cash registers, he waited for me to finish up so that we could lock up and each go home. The customer needed some notions to go along with her fabric purchase; finally, I carried her accumulated items to the register and rang up the sale. John had readied a bag for me, it was waiting on the counter, I slid her items inside and he locked the door behind her. I totaled out the register and looked for the receipts, checks and cash from the other cash drawer while John locked up the office. We only needed to drop these into the bank deposit as we exited the mall and we were free to leave for the day! I asked John where the contents of the other cash register were and he gave me the strangest look... "In the bag..." he responded, in what I remember as sort of a strangled whisper. "Bag?" I questioned; but we both already knew what had happened. He'd placed the money in the very same bag that I had sent home with our last customer. She was now carrying fabric and matching thread along with most of our day's receipts! I can recall, even now, the cold, sinking feeling of absolute panic that was overwhelming me as John ran in circles around the store before bolting to the parking lot in an attempt to find her. It was too late, the parking lot was empty. We didn't know the customer, she'd paid by cash, we had no way to contact her. We didn't have a choice, we had to call our manager. At first he couldn't believe that we would do anything that absent-minded, but when he figured out that we were serious he asked that we each come in the next morning before opening. We were both certain that we were losing our jobs. He sat us down and closed the office door, I'm sure we must have looked absolutely pitiful. He didn't fire us but rather gave us a pep-talk and then told us about all the times he'd screwed up and how people had given him second chances when he felt he hadn't deserved them. We both were relieved, able to breathe again, and yet still felt like we'd let people down; we had much to prove now that we'd been let off the hook. Less than fifteen minutes later our boss came strolling out of the office wearing a huge smile. The customer had phoned, she'd found the money and was returning it right away! I was amazed, I hadn't even dreamed that might happen! Somehow The Journal and Courier got wind of the story and printed a small article in the next day's paper entitled: "Singer Co. Pads Lady's Purchase". (I still have a copy of that article in a scrapbook somewhere.) We took some good-natured ribbing for awhile from customers and fellow mall employees who'd stop by and ask if we were giving away any money that day, things like that. But, as long as I live, I'll never forget the look on that dear lady's face when she returned that bag of money thirty three years ago, she was so exceedingly joyful. (So was I!) She was the human face of honesty and integrity; she taught me so much... simply through the way she lived her life. I am who I am today because of the scores of people and myriad of experiences that have left imprints on me; joyful, indelible imprints!

...I am deeply appreciative...
Life is Good!

14 comments:

Tina said...

What a beautiful story. You will never live it down, and I bet the lady has a life long story to tell. I have just spent a week in the rockies at Jasper, absolutly amazing, we even got a fresh dump of snow on the peaks. God is so Good.
Tina

meggie said...

What a lovely story! I would be like her, would have to return the money. I believe ill gotten gains bring only pain & grief.
And I would be mindful of what I would hope someone would do for me, if I was in that postition!

Ancestor Collector said...

This is a great memory! The kindness (and honesty) of strangers is a lesson everyone should learn.

I remember a time I came home from the grocery store, only to discover I had an entire bag of someone else's groceries! So, I put away my perishables and went right back to the store with the bag of things that didn't belong to me (and with my three little children in tow). I was shocked at the reaction of the store employees...."You brought that back? Why?" Because how could I NOT??? I explained that it didn't belong to me, I hadn't paid for it, and what if the person who had, returned for it? I'd like to think that I was setting the proper example for my children as well as doing the right thing. To profit from someone else's mistake brings no joy.

I wonder if that dear lady ever thinks of you and the important lesson she shared? I hope she's still happily sewing away!

Hugs!!

DubiQuilts - Debbi said...

Great story. I would return the money too.

Tanya said...

What a wonderful post! It makes me think about the people who have influenced me and it gets me wondering if I have unknowingly evey influenced someone like this. Wonderful food for thought!

Darlene said...

You will have that memory for the rest of your life! Great story, thank you for sharing!

Thanks for popping in to visit my blog recently - come again! I'll be back to visit you often. :-)

Carole said...

Nice story! Honesty, a beautiful quality! Thanks for sharing!

Nancy said...

Good story, well told. I suspect, perhaps naively, that there are more honest than dishonest people.

We were in Estes Park on vacation and I had made a purchase and when I got back to our lodgings realized that the clerk had given me $20 too much in change, so I took it back. She was incredulous. She said, "I can't believe you came back for this!" I said, "Well, I certainly would have if you had given me $20 too LITTLE, so it has to work both ways."

mamaspark said...

How amazing! It kind of restores your faith in human nature!

Julie aka "Quilt Diva" said...

Like Ancestor Collector, I, too, have returned groceries that weren't mine and been met with the same kind of incredulous responses... I do believe in the essential goodness of people, despite so much of what is reported in the media. Thank you SO much for sharing your story~ what a wonderful way to start this day!

Nan said...

Aren't people wonderful, though? What an incredible story - I totally agree with the "imprint" title. It certainly has left an imprint on my heart!
Thank you for sharing such a great story - you've made my day!

Shelina said...

This is a great story. I too would like to believe that there are more good people out there than there are dishonest ones.

atet said...

Thanks for sharing that lovely story about kindness and honesty. So few people follow that example these days. I found trail of singles in the parking area outside of our townhouse last spring -- I just knew it was from the pizza delivery person who had just been to the neighbors. I went and asked where they had ordered from and called the store. The teenagers who worked there were so surprised that I called to return the cash. And the young woman who came to collect it was so thankful -- but really, how could I keep it? It wasn't mine! Glad to know I'm not the only one.

Marcie said...

Wow, there is an experience you won't forget! So glad it had a good outcome. There really are good people out there, despite all the bad news we hear. Nice story!