Recently I went to Tractor Supply and bought a roll of 24” high chicken wire – excuse me; Poultry Mesh, for some fence boxes I’m making for my garden. They carry the mesh in 50 foot rolls for $18 and 150 foot rolls for $45. I decided the 50 foot roll would do 3 boxes and might be all I’ll need for a while. The 150 is a better value, but I’m not sure I’ll need 9 more fence boxes.
The gal at the register rang me up, and said, “He’s unloading a truck out back right now, the gate is open, just grab what you need.” So I walked across the parking lot to the fenced-in area where they store lots of stuff, found the rack of chicken wire, saw the blue & while sign attached to the top of a cell reading “24” x 50’ Poultry mesh, just $17.99”, grabbed a roll, took it back to the truck and went on my way.
Mid afternoon I got to where I was ready to build another box and began to open up the roll of mesh. The label on the roll caught my eye: 24” x 150’. RATS!
Fortunately I had the truck, so I went back into town a bit earlier than I was scheduled to and stopped by Tractor Supply. I took the roll back in and explained to the clerk at the counter what had happened. She became very bewildered, as she snatched my receipt and stammered, “I’ll have to have a manager void the sale and ring you up again…”
“No, no, the money is right – I grabbed the wrong thing. I paid for a 50 foot roll and took a 150 foot roll by mistake. I just need to exchange this for the 50 foot roll I paid for.”
She stared at me blankly for a moment, “You brought this one back to get the smaller roll?”
“I paid for the smaller roll.”
“And you don’t want the bigger roll?”
“I didn’t pay for the big roll. Keeping this would be stealing.”
Finally the light came on, “Oh… OH!”
By this time the fellow who runs the fenced lot was there, took the roll from me and walked me out to the lot to get what I needed. Along the way he said, “Thank you for being so honest.”
“Keeping that one wouldn’t be right.”
“No, I suppose not, we just don’t see honesty very much.”
“Yes, I suppose it is, but it’s just the way it is.”
As I drove across town I couldn’t help wondering; was the yard man right? Have we gotten to a point where most people can not be trusted to act with honesty? I fully comprehend that there have always been scallywags among us to whom the honor system is just an open invitation but I have always thought, by and large, most people could be trusted – within reason. What would you have done?