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Rhia’s Corner

                          September,  2006

By Rhiannon Waits

Teaching employees to lie


            As always, the grand creator puts things in my path to point in which direction my column should take each month. It is laid before me in such a manner that I become passionate about writing the experience in detail. Because many publications allow only 700 words, I have to chop my column to fit the criteria, yet in my books I let it flow naturally.

            I recently made a trip to a well-known drug store to purchase a few items and browse through their new store. I permitted my two teenage sons to accompany me so they could peruse the new establishment as well. Predictably, they did not follow me to the check out but dragged behind me causing delay.          I called to them to come or I would check out without any items they decided to purchase.

            The young cashier who stood before me was not much older than my youngest sons are. Yet the amused smile showing on his face told that he had once been the straggler delaying his mom. As I stepped up to the counter, he told me about how his mother had threaten him and his siblings and yet it was obvious he had the utmost respect for his mother. Those threats were not remembered as verbal abuse, but as the very tool that helped him grow up to be who he was. He spoke of her with such love and yet with great admiration for the authoritarian that molded and assisted him into becoming a healthy and happy young man.

            As we chatted and laughed, he checked me out and handed me my change. I folded it up inside my receipt without looking and stuck it in my purse as I herded my teenagers toward the car. As we traveled home, I made a remark to my sons that I felt the young man was truly a good person. He made me smile.

            It was late that night when I organized my purse before going to sleep. When I unfolded the receipt, I saw that the young man had given me a twenty-dollar bill in addition to my correct change. It was too late to call the store, as their closing time was 10:00pm. I tossed and turned that night in fear of his being dismissed from his job.

            As morning came, I made the call to management to inform them of the incident. The management explained to me that he had written up the young man for being 20 dollars short. However, what he told me next not only disappointed me in their rules but in the manager as a person. He explained that he would have never known whose cash drawer was short if this young man had of kept quiet. Instead, he had spoke up and brought this action upon himself. The young cashier had informed the manager he mistakenly given a customer a twenty by mistake.

 I told the manager the twenty would be returned within an hour, and begged him not to penalize the young man for his honesty. I explained to him how his presence at the counter was warm and inviting and how this punishment was a larger error than the monetary inaccuracy.

Finally, his supervisor agreed to tear up the report that would mar this young mans employment history when I returned the money. However, he added that not many people were as honest as I was so he stood by the reasoning of his previous decision.

I immediately returned to the drug store with the twenty in hand. Upon asking for management, another man came to the front to meet me. When he saw I was holding a twenty, he casually told me he had heard the story. He took it from my hand and headed behind the counter. He spoke to me with his back turned while he was still walking. “Yeah, I will put it in the safe here- in one of these cash drawers, you have a nice day ma’m”. I asked the “turned back” if he would inform the young man that I had returned and brought the change back. “Yeah” was the reply I received. With this, I was dismissed and my encounter was over. I left the store feeling rather let down and as if I accomplished nothing. I unquestionably did not feel as appreciated as the young man made me feel the day before.

            As I sit here today, typing to you, I continuously keep editing this and trying to improve my Fleishman-Kincaid scale unsuccessfully. I believe my heart is more in my hands than my intellect as I am typing what I feel rather than the proper format of English and literary structure. Therefore, following a struggle within myself, I have decided to let it go and let my heart be open to your reading rather than impress you with literary skills.

When did business become an entity that punishes employees for integrity and honesty? In this particular case, it was demonstrating to a young impressible teenager, that “honest was NOT the best policy”. It was attempting to reverse years of a mothers training of her son. As I attempted to sleep that night, I could only battle of emotions he could be feeling. I saw how this would affect my own sons had it been them, and it broke my heart. After speaking with this manager, I wondered if he had such dreams afterwards writing his disciplinary report on the employee record.

You might be asking yourself where the usual humor in my writing is. My response would have to be, that “first and foremost”, lessons have been my priority and humor has been its seasoning. I believe this lesson will have to do better without humor, for I find none within it.

I ask that this Little Lesson in Love and in life attract the attention of supervisors, companies and their customers. Revise your rules, revise your vision, and revise your stance on punishing employees for showing honesty, integrity, and morals. I remind you that Karma is a mirror that reflects. When you hire a young adult, you hold in your hands the future of the world.



Where is there dignity unless there is honesty?

Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC)

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain - and most fools do.

Dale Carnegie


Little Lessons on Life and Life by Rhiannon Waits

ISBN 0-9779502-3-9

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