It seems to me that these days, honesty is an attribute that is hard to find. I found proof of this while doing my home renovations.
We visited several building supply stores before settling on the one who gave the best prices and had the most stock. I approached the owner, who agreed that if I purchased all my lumber, etc at his store, he would give me a 15% discount on everything. That was a great deal, but I also asked if he would guarantee the lowest prices, which he did.
When it came time to make my order, my contractor and I visited the store. We provided a list of items and were given good prices, so we agreed and the items were delivered.
When we took notice, the guys who unloaded our stuff gave us a few extra items. I had two pieces 2x6x12 pressure treated lumber that I didn’t pay for. The total for the two boards was around $30. My contractor was surprised when I said that I was going to return them and inform the store owner of the error. “He will never know that you have them” was his reply.
My reply to this was that I will know. How do I explain the importance of honesty to my son if I knowingly keep those boards? My contractor was surprised, but said that it proved I had character. Hey, I was raised honest!
We ended up using the spare lumber, so it was good that they gave them to me. The next time I was in town I visited the building supply store. When I went in, the manager was at the cash, along with a few employees including the guy who unloaded the truck.
“I need these four things, and while you are at it, could you please charge me for two pieces of 12 foot 2×6 pt lumber?” I asked, “I won’t be taking them home, you dropped them off to my home by accident.” I got strange looks from everyone. “Excuse me, you want me to charge you for lumber you aren’t taking?” the manager asked. The worker who left them at my home looks at everyone, including the manager and says “You are Effing Crazy. I would have kept them, who would know?” I reply to him that I would know.
The manager awarded my honesty with a gift certificate for ten percent off certain items in the store, which I refused to take. While I was at it, I had to order eight twelve foot fence boards for the patio we were working on. The manager offered free delivery. I accepted his offer.
When I got home, I noticed that the lumber was already delivered. Instead of the eight pieces I paid for, there were twelve pieces of lumber piled next to the patio. At first I feared that by alerting the store manager, the employee who made both mistakes and advised that I was insane for returning the boards might lose his job over this, but I came to the realization that he should have done a better job and that giving me more than I paid for was not doing anybody any good.
Immediately I called the store. I spoke to the manager. “You guys are making it hard to be honest!” I said. “Why Ted? Is there something wrong with your order?” he asked.
“You gave me four pieces that I didn’t pay for. I cannot bring them back as they are too long to fit in my truck, but if you want to drop by and pick them up, they will be right here where they were left. I advised. He was dumbfounded. He said that in his line of work, they just don’t see honesty like this. My reply was that if everyone was this honest, lumber and building materials would be much less expensive. He agreed. As for his employee, I think he was fired.
What an ordeal! In the end, we finished the patio and it looks great. My conscience is clean, and I can be proud that I did the right thing.