Honesty was instilled in my sisters and me at an early age. We were taught the Ten Commandments in Sunday school and we were expected to obey them. The example of Abraham Lincoln walking many miles to return money that was not his, made an impression on me as a child. I would like to relate the following instances of lessons learned.
The first instance of being taught honesty was at the age of eight. My sisters and I were to be baptized in Christ Church located in Alexandria, Virginia, which was our home town. Mother made white dresses with ruffles to wear. After the baptism, I went out to play. Climbing a fence I tore my dress. I quietly went to my room and changed. Mother questioned me and I told her my dress was dirty. I had lied to her which was not acceptable in our home. I didn’t get much sleep that night, and when morning came, I was ready to confess. I did not get punished, but the look on Mother’s face was enough.
The next instance, I was ten years old. A friend invited me to go to the five and dime store to shop. She didn’t do much shopping, but spent much time at the candy counter. She told me that when the lady was busy, we could put our hands in a space at the end of the counter and take candy and not pay for it. What a temptation! I did not have money for candy. I knew it was wrong so I told my friend that this was stealing, and I was going home, which was quite a distance. She left me and I had to find my way alone.
The next two instances were recent. I had purchased a waffle iron and had to correct the cashier on the price. A week later I returned it and didn’t notice the amount credited. As I gathered my slips to file, I noticed the amount was ten dollars too much. I went back and reported the mistake, asking that the amount be charged to my credit card. A supervisor was called and she told me to keep the amount for being treated in a rude way by the cashier. I was not happy about this outcome. My daughter phoned and asked me to go with her to get a battery. I saw this as a chance to go to the bank and withdraw cash for Christmas. It was snowing and there were steep streets. We finally arrived at the bank, and I watched the cashier count the money. I didn’t recount the cash as I was in a hurry to go to the auto parts store to have a battery installed in my daughter’s car. As she was driving, I counted the cash, and found one hundred dollars too much. My daughter said we would go back, but I refused. The snow was getting heavy. There had to be a better solution. An idea came that I could call the bank and have them take another hundred out of my account. I called the teller and told her of the error, stating that because of the weather, I could not return. I told her of my idea and she approved it.
Standing for the principle of truth has cost me jobs and friends. I am grateful to Mother for her stand for truth and honesty.
– Betty L