Monday, December 8, 2014

Who Will Know?

hon·es·ty: the quality of being fair and truthful : the quality of being honest

in·teg·ri·ty: the quality of being honest and fair; the state of being complete or whole; firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values 

It was the beginning of the college school year, which meant that it is time to take Gabrielle back to school for her sophomore year.  This year she is sharing a suite on campus with three other girls (are they still girls or do I have to refer to them now as young ladies?).  After the move in, all the students and their families went out for lunch together.  What a great way to get to know each of the families better.  With four family units of different sizes to each family, it made the most sense to have four separate bills.  Four bills covering 19 people opens itself up to the chance that there could be some errors on each of the bills, especially since not all of the family members sat next to each other.  Sure enough, there were a few mistakes and corrections made, which underscores the importance of reviewing your checks whenever you eat out, as opposed to just paying blindly without review.  The interesting thing was that this was handled very well; no one raised their voices nor harassed the waitress.  I reviewed my bill and realized she charged me for something extra and not for a drink.  The net impact meant that I would pay more by saying something.

My grandfather had the nickname “Straight-as-an-arrow Irving”.  The name came not from being an archer, but his ability to hit a golf ball straight.  While he did not have a strong golf swing, most of the time, the ball went straight.  Interestingly enough, the name could have been applied to him off the course as well.  My grandfather was a man of high integrity and truly believed in the phrase that honesty is the best policy.  He was a man of values and believed in them until the day he died.  As a salesman, he believed and practiced that a salesman should always dress in his best clothes.  He dealt with meat packers and had to go into their plants, where he stood out in his suit and tie.  It did not bother him if the workers, covered in blood, etc., laughed at him.  They actually began to respect him and his integrity.  Being honest and having integrity served him well in his life, and provided a great example to my father and to my brothers and me.

Rodney Dangerfield used to joke, “You can tell when someone is high class; they can be alone and fart and still say excuse me.”  While the joke is funny, there is some truth behind it (sorry, I could not help the pun).  Integrity is something that we follow whether or not we are in a crowd or by ourselves.  That is worth repeating - Integrity is something that we follow whether or not we are in a crowd or by ourselves.  If I were to take something from a store without paying for it, who would know?  Only I would, and as we tend to be the harshest judges of ourselves, we would know that we did wrong, something not honest and have to live with our own guilt.  As a parent it is important to not only teach our children good values, honesty and living a life with integrity, but to actually live that lifestyle as well.  Our children, our friends and our peers see what we do in our individual lives; actions, sometimes, do speak louder than words.  As I looked at my bill, I knew that the additional amount that I would have to pay was not going to matter monetarily, but it mattered to me in terms of doing the right thing.  I happily went up to the waitress.  She now had a choice, to correct the bill, or tell me to not worry about it.  She did the right thing and corrected the bill. My tip reflected the honesty involved and I walked away with the feeling that my integrity was intact.