My first thought was that the vending machine gods had smiled upon me. My second thought was a definition: Integrity is what you do when no one is looking.
My honesty/integrity level has always been pretty high – as a child, I got in more trouble for telling a lie than for whatever I had done wrong in the first place, and we raised our kids the same way. Don’t pass the blame to someone else, take responsibility for your own actions, work for your pay, and pay for what you get. I can’t tell you the number of times I’d end up in the parking lot and find a greeting card or lipstick or something under my purse, and have to trudge the kids back in with me so I could pay for it. I also couldn’t tell you how many Wows or Thank Yous I got when I did.
Vending machines are a little different, but I knew it would bother me all day if I just kept the second Snickers. So I found the nearest office and asked who was in charge of the vending machines.
“Why, did it take your money?” the guy asked.
“No, it gave me an extra Snickers bar.”
He shrugged and said it must just be my lucky day.
The woman in the glass-walled private office smiled through her open door and nodded. “The company that does the vending machines is off campus and nobody here has anything to do with them. Enjoy it.” And no, she didn’t want me to leave the money with them.
I thought about getting the company address and mailing it (I know, I know, I take things to extremes), but the postage plus their costs in processing a single dollar made that seem counterproductive.
So I finally walked into the computer lab where I was heading to begin with, feeling rather smug. I ate the first Snickers, the second one is waiting for another calorie splurge, and my sense of integrity is intact. Unless we’re going to talk about cheating on diets.
Obviously, I can carry things to the point where other people shake their heads. But where is your line in the sand? When do you go back to make something right, and when do you just let it go?