Honesty is the Best Policy

ADIP-465_copy__15543__36849__07284.1426615144.1280.1280__28972.1436804429.1280.1280Bill and I went to Lowe’s yesterday afternoon to buy some wood so that Bill can put up chair rails in the bedroom that we are tackling next, remodeling-wise. After much discussion, we selected our pattern and took the six pieces of wood rail up to the cashier. She used her little scanning gun and binked it four times, then moved on to the next item. Bill stopped her and politely told her that there were six pieces of wood rather than four. As you would imagine, she was grateful for his honesty.

Now, I don’t know if this was part of Mom’s and Dad’s always stay humble and kind philosophy that I discussed in a recent blog post, but I am scrupulously honest. So is Bill.

We were recently at a restaurant and when I got the bill, I uncharacteristically studied it. I say uncharacteristically because I never, ever glance at a bill. I wonder how many times I have been overcharged or undercharged and never knew it. Anyhoo, as I looked at this bill, it appeared that we had only been charged for one Diet Coke rather than the correct two. The server noticed me looking at my bill and came over to see if there was a problem.

“Well, I think so,” I said. “It looks like you only charged us for one drink and we got two.”

She looked at the bill and pointed out to me that the bill said something like beverage X 2. Well, duh. Being so durn smart and all, you would think I could have figgered it out.

“It would have been in your favor, you know,” she said, rather snippily I thought.

Does that matter, I wondered. Because in my mind, it doesn’t.

I promise you that I’m not in danger of throwing my shoulder out of joint because I’m so busy patting myself on the back for my honesty. To me, it’s just common sense. Like I used to say to Jen when we were little and bickering (which was often, always her fault): I don’t care if you think you’re right because Mom knows and God knows. Boom. Mom, right up there in the all-knowing category with God.

So, recognizing that God sees all things and Thou shall not steal is one of the big 10 (not to be confused with the Big 10 Conference, of which the University of Nebraska is one), why take any chance on committing a sin, even if it is only venial? But a large part of it, I think, is that Mom and Dad owned a business, and likely got ripped off plenty in their day. We learned how that impacts a business owner. That’s why the day that I bought groceries at Safeway and was all the way out to my car before I realized that I hadn’t paid for a gallon of orange juice that was on the bottom of my cart, I went back and stood in line to pay for it. The cashier looked at me like I was nuts, I can tell you.

Bill and I have a restaurant that we enjoy going to when we are willing to spend a bit more for a nice meal. They have a program whereby when you register, you get two things: $10 off your meal on your wedding anniversary and a percentage off of your meal equivalent to your age on your birthday. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I got a full 62 percent off of my meal last December. Suuuuweeet! Can’t wait until I’m 100! I hope I still have teeth.

I got the gift certificate via email a week before our recent anniversary. We used it that week, getting the ten bucks off of our meal. And then two weeks later, I received a second email, identical to the first, but with a new expiration date. I was puzzled, but reluctant to look a gift horse in the mouth.

But I fretted. The whole way to the restaurant Bill and I discussed whether or not it was right that I was using this coupon when I had already gotten ten bucks off an anniversary meal. I didn’t sign up twice, I thought. Maybe they allow one for each of the two people celebrating the anniversary, I rationalized. It’s not my fault if they have computer issues, I justified.

But at the end of the day, we couldn’t do it. I don’t know why they sent me a second coupon. But it doesn’t matter.

Because Mom knows and God knows.

The Eye of the Needle

6vs1q4go1mdabh35c1qtsldqs.1000x976x1Every time I publish one of these blog posts in which I talk about my spiritual life, I’m uncomfortable. After all, who am I to feel like I have anything to tell anyone about being a good and faithful servant of God? Attending a Catholic school from Kindergarten through 12th grade certainly doesn’t give me the necessary credibility. Especially since I was sent to the principal’s office on more than one occasion because my uniform skirt didn’t meet the necessary guidelines, i.e., touching the floor when kneeling at daily Mass. People – it was 1969! Oh, it did once I got to the principal’s office because the reason my skirt was short was that I had folded over the waist three or four times. It probably doesn’t surprise you that I didn’t really fool the principal when I entered her office with a skirt down to my knees. (It didn’t fool my mother either, but as good a Catholic as she was, she never really thought highly of some of the school rules. I remember when I was in grade school, a rule was issued that girls couldn’t wear sleeveless dresses to school. “Oh, yes,” I remember her saying, “because there’s nothing sexier than a 6-year-old’s underarms.”)

But I digress, something I do very well.

Despite my lack of credibility, the gospel readings keep slamming me in the face, and I need you all to assure me of my salvation. For example, in yesterday’s gospel from my old friend St. Mark, Jesus tells the rich man that in order for him to make it to heaven, he had to give away all of his worldly goods.  Dang, thought the rich man. Gulp, thought I. St. Mark tells us the rich man’s “face fell” and I’m certain mine did. It does every time I hear that gospel. Heck, I don’t want to give away my big screen television. How am I supposed to watch the Broncos or Dancing With the Stars?

As I sat back to listen to Father Larry’s homily, I was prepared to hear him assure me that I didn’t have to give up my iPad after all. As I recalled, every time that particular gospel is read, the priests assure us that we don’t have to give up everything and eat only locusts and honey. To my relief, Father Larry did, in fact, assure me giving away everything was unnecessary. However, he put it in a way that actually made some sense. He pointed out that Jesus told the rich man that he should follow the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal and so on. The rich man assured him that he did indeed follow all of God’s commandments and had since a mere youth. For the most part, so do I, or at least I try.

But, said our homilist, Jesus went on to tell the rich man – and therefore me – that it isn’t simply what we don’t do, but just as important, or perhaps even more important, what we do.

Gulp, I thought again. Because the fact of the matter is that while I think about doing a lot, I mostly don’t getting around to doing anything. I can be more generous with my time and talents. When I get mail from nonprofits asking for money, I can actually give money instead of tossing them out without even opening the envelope. I always tell myself I should carry a stack of one dollar bills and when I’m at a stoplight where someone is holding up a cardboard sign, I could actually hand him/her a couple of dollars without thinking about whether or not he or she deserves my money. After all, it isn’t up to me to judge.

“Then who can be saved,” the disciples asked Jesus, who responded, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”

Even saving my pitiful butt. I’m going right now to put some dollar bills in my car.