The bank credited a refund to my account twice.
I noticed it last week, but by the time I noticed it, it was during the winter storm and the banks were closed. I figured it would clear itself up when they opened.
It was not a lot of money, perhaps a few extra groceries or a movie night.
By Monday, it was still there. By noon, I realized I needed to say something…or not.
I had to go to the bank to make a deposit and as I pulled into the parking lot, I had to make a decision. Do I go in and set the account straight, or do I just pull around to the teller’s window, make my deposit and keep on going.
I went in, made my deposit, and turned around to find a bank officer to talk to. They were all busy. I sat down in the waiting area and 10 minutes passed while I waited. The entire time, I thought to myself, is this worth it?
I started reasoning to myself. My time is valuable. It’s their mistake. It’s not much money.
But I didn’t move.
Finally one of the representatives finished up with her other customer and asked, “May I help you?”
I stood up. One more chance to kindly say, “No, I was just resting” and leave with a few extra bucks.
Instead, I walked over to the office and sat down.
“There’s an error in my account.”
We looked at it, discussed it, and then she fixed it. She went on to say that the error would have never gone noticed due to it’s coding.
I stood up to leave and she thanked me.
I replied, “Well, that’s what I was suppose to do…” and I paused.
I said goodbye and that’s when it hit me.
WHY was I suppose to do that?
Because I was taught that was stealing.
Because i was raised in a Christian home where I learned to please a man whose name has been used to invoke riots, debates, anger, religious wars.
Because I was taught that doing wrong meant punishment from a Supreme Being who loves me and forgives me but nonetheless can determine my eternity based on my acts or faith.
Because karma is tossed around and doing good equals good for me, and doing bad brings me bad luck.
Or maybe, when I go in there next time, they will think of me as a better person. (My ego loves a good stroking here and there.)
Why did I report that?
I sat in the car and pondered it.
I said to myself, “Because it was the right thing to do” but I’m still unsure why.
I think about Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development.
I try to analyze my own behavior and decision based upon his theories. My mind cannot sort through the stages fast enough then my conscious, my ID, or my soul, or solar plexus, or whatever that thing inside of us says, “You did it because it didn’t belong to you. Now, let it go.”
I’m not upset because I did it. I’m not even upset because I questioned the act. I’m perplexed as to why. And such is life.
People will give definite, self assured reasons. They will argue the whys on moral consciousness all day long. They will debate theology, history, scientific based studies, and logic all day long.
But the question for me still remains, “Why do I make decisions in life?”
Later that evening, I am at ALDI shopping for groceries. I stand in front of the dairy case deciding butter. The sweet cream butter is 2.29 for 4 sticks. The cooking margarine is .75 for 4 sticks. I want the delicious sweet cream, but I also am very frugal and I’m not willing to pay more than double for the extra taste.
As I am bagging my groceries, I come across a four pack of the sweet cream butter hidden in the cart. I check my receipt. I realize that it was left by the previous person who checked out in front of me.
Should I keep it?
And there I go again…
Was it a karmic reward for my earlier action?
Will God be upset if I took it knowing I didn’t pay for it?
Will I get kudos if I turn it in?
The daily struggle to just do something because it is the right thing to do kicks again.