Friday, November 13, 2009

The Principle of the Matter

Remember the lunch I cried about on Sunday?  The letter I wrote to California Girl afterward?  Who, by the way, still loves me too after reading my world-wide post about her.  I was worried, you never know how someone's going to react when you don't know what they think of blogging, you know. 

Anyhoo, my bill came to $5.72 that day.  No, we didn't eat at McDonald's, if you are wondering.  We ate at a lovely brunch spot here in town, I just had the liquid variety of lunch.  My fam and I had previous lunch plans, I ate with them, showed up a little late and joined the lovely group of ladies over their bloody marys.  And because I never say no to a Sunday afternoon bloody mary (all once every 365 days it happens), that's what I had.  Costing $5.72. 

Guess what my change was?  I gave him a $20.  Go on . . . guess!  No?

Ok, I'll tell ya.  I received $14.25 in change.  Pretty close, right? 

WHY would I waste a post about this? 

Because it wasn't in my favor!  I've never seen that at a restaurant.  I've seen recent trends where restaurants don't use pennies because they're "obsolete."  And I guess I have to say that until they are no longer part of our currency system, they are not obsolete.  Until places stop charging $X.99 for something, the penny is still in circulation.   Until I stop gathering my change quarterly and come up with enough pennies to equal $5.00, which ain't peanuts to a kid, then the penny is not obsolete.

But I digress.  I have received incorrect change in this manner before, but it's always been to my favor.  So, if this had been in my favor, I "should have" received $14.30 in change, right?  The proper change for my bill would be $14.28, so if they don't use pennies at this location, then I should have been given the extra two cents, rather than them keeping the extra three cents owed me.

Seems like I'm making a big deal over that one cent difference, doesn't it?  And in a way I am.  But here's where I do my GROSSLY LARGE expansion to a societal issue.  In case you haven't noticed, we're becoming a little more rude, a little less civilized with each other.  Maybe it's partly because we hide behind the anonymity of social media.  Maybe we "say" things over the internet at the safety of our own computer, alone in our homes that we wouldn't necessarily say in public discourse.  That's the whole reason I started this blog - look at my profile!  I wanted a place where I could "talk" about the things that I can't talk about anyplace else.

Does that make ME rude?  I don't think so, but I do think that my incorrect change scenario is evidence of this rude society.  I didn't speak up and say something to him because I didn't want to look like a whack job asking to have the correct change, when it amounted to a three cent difference.  So instead of saying it to him and being done with it, I''ve been ruminating about it for a few days and am now "venting" about it here, alone, in my office, where the chance of confrontation with him is no longer there. 

Had I held him to the standard we should all expect - which is, call me crazy, to rightfully expect to receive the correct change when I pay for something with cash, then maybe it would prevent him from doing it in the future to another customer.  Maybe it would prevent him from thinking it's perfectly fine to shortchange a customer because "all we're talking about here is three cents." 

That's what I do with my kids - I hold them to certain standards of honesty and civility and respect.  I would NEVER tell them it's ok to settle for something less than what's honest.  Except for Santa, Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy, my three exceptions.  Which does haunt me, don't think it doesn't.  I've debated . . . but I always come back to the magic of childhood outweighing the truth of those "people."

Back to the issue.  The thing is, I really like this place - it's one of the nicest places in town here.  I don't WANT to feel shortchanged by them. 

Most people woudn't care a LICK about this, I know.  And I'm sure I have some readers right now wondering why on Earth I'm so worked up about three cents?

I'll tell you why - it's something I heard from my parents my WHOLE life and I never understood it growing up.  It's not something that I think you GET until you're a grown-up.  But it's the PRINCIPLE OF THE MATTER.  It has to be in ALL-CAPS because that's how I remember my parents saying it to me. 

"Miss E, you never cheat, even a little bit, because it's the PRINCIPLE OF THE MATTER, not the fact that it's 'minor' cheating."

"Miss E, you never keep extra change from someone, even if it's not a big deal because it's the PRINCIPLE OF THE MATTER."

"Miss E, we are returning the dirty, worn down arm missing Star Wars figure you brought home from the church playroom today.  You can't keep it, even if it's a hunk o'junk because it's the PRINCIPLE OF THE MATTER.  You took something that wasn't rightfully yours."

It's just not OK to think that because something is a small transgression, it's not a transgression.  Because it has to do with, say it with me now, the PRINCIPLE OF THE MATTER, not the diminutive size of the transgression. 

I wish more people felt this crazy notion, PRINCIPLES, was more important today.  It's hard feeling like a salmon swimming upstream against the tide of "IT'S NO BIG DEAL" when you're trying to raise your kids with values and ethics.  But I'll keep trying.  Our future's at stake.  And I thank my parents for drilling THIS Principle into my moral fiber. 

I Can't Believe I'm This Worked Up Over a Lousy Three Cents
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