Would you go to a store, open a package of socks and tell the cashier you’re only paying for one pair because that’s all you need?
Would you go to a restaurant, eat half of your meal and tell the server you’re only paying for the portion you ate?
Would you walk into a newspaper, take out a page from a paper and say you’re only paying a portion because that one page was all you wanted?
If you said no to all of these scenarios, congratulations because you practice common courtesy and decency.
Unfortunately, that third scenario is a true story.
Last week, a well-dressed man driving a white Lexus entered the front doors of the Delta Democrat-Times asking for a copy of the most recent weekend edition paper.
The woman assisting him directed him to a stack and told him a copy costs $1.50. He picked up a paper, flipped through the pages until he found what he was looking for. He then took out the page he was searching for and tossed two quarters onto the counter.
As the woman assisting him scrambled to catch the quarters before they fell on the floor, she reminded him it’s $1.50.
In turn, the man said, “You recycle, don’t you? This is all I wanted,” and walked back outside, got into his car and drove away.
I am still utterly shocked this person had the audacity and nerve to do what he did.
It reminds me of the Geico commercial of the lady sticking pictures to her wall and her friend saying, “That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works!”
Paying the full amount for a newspaper is something I would have never guessed someone would think twice about, let alone weasel out of doing. When you see the man who does do this is driving a Lexus, it’s downright comical.
I know I’m talking about the difference of just one dollar, but that was a dollar he owed as part of a business transaction.
Once that page was taken from the paper, it was tarnished. We can’t sell a paper to someone with a missing page.
To answer his question for those who may be wondering, yes, we do recycle. Does that somehow make it OK? Is a dollar all it takes to sell your dignity?
Whatever the excuse may be, his actions were cheap and classless.
I can just see the look on my mother’s face now if she found out I ever did anything like this. When I was 5 years old, I was at Kroger with my mom and she caught me as I snuck a single grape into my mouth. She was not the type to let things slide, no sir.
Grabbing my arm, my mother made me ask the nearest Kroger employee what I owed the store because I had stolen a grape. I was so embarrassed. The employee laughed and said it was just one grape and not to worry. That wasn’t good enough for my mom, who persisted. I had to owe something.
To appease my mom, the woman said I could pay a penny for the grape. Not only did we pay for the grape, my mother lectured me about theft the rest of the time we spent shopping, which took a while.
What may sometimes seem silly and unimportant ultimately comes down to the principal of the matter.
It didn’t matter that I “only” ate one grape. They were not mine and I should not have taken one.
It doesn’t matter if it was “only” a dollar the man last week shorted us. It doesn’t matter that he “only” wanted to read something on one page. It is a dollar he still owes us.
As Thanksgiving Day approaches tomorrow, I have been thinking of all the things I am grateful for in my life. Of course, my husband and children are right at the top of my list. This year, I am especially grateful for my mother, who taught me the importance of being honest, kind and having integrity. I hope to instill the same values in my children.
Catherine Kirk is managing editor of the Delta Democrat-Times. She can be reached at email@example.com.