Adventures from Back of Beyond

Monday, March 02, 2009

My Faith in Humanity is Restored

Did you ever get that sinking feeling in your stomach when you realize you've really messed up bad?

Yesterday I inadvertently dropped a $130 check in the parking lot of Costco. It was a careless thing to do, and unlike me. The big check was worth cash. Anyone could've picked up that check and easily cashed it inside the store with no ID required. No one except me would've ever known the difference.

So I got this sinking feeling when I realized the check was gone, while in line to pay.

I told the clerk I wanted to use my rebate check but couldn't find it. I asked if she could access my account and credit me anyway. She told me she had to have the check, there was no way otherwise to credit me. So I went ahead and paid in full without the rebate check, holding on to the unlikely chance I'd accidentally left the check in the car.

I rushed out to the parking lot, and no big surprise -- no check anywhere in the car. Now I knew it was definitely lost. I then retraced my steps back into the store, and realized there was a good chance I'd dropped it in the parking lot on my way in.

I slowly walked back to the store, scouring the lot as I went. I found a couple of receipts on the ground. No check.

So in I went to the customer service desk, embarrassed now at my carelessness. I asked if anyone turned in a rebate check. The clerk called the front end manager to relay my question. She listened to the response on the phone, then asked me the amount of the check. This was a hopeful sign.

I couldn't remember the exact amount, but I knew the ballpark. She then looked up my account, which confirmed the exact amount. The clerk at the service desk then sent me to see the store's front end manager. I started getting a bit excited that I might just get lucky.

I soon found the front end manager. He asked to see my membership card, took a quick look. He then promptly handed over my check.

Someone had turned it in. I asked who. He didn't know, and the person left no contact information. This was an anonymous and random act of kindness. I got lucky, very lucky.

I felt like I badly wanted to reward that person somehow. But I had no name, no way to contact.

I was enormously relieved and very grateful, yet wondered out loud to the manager whether or not I would, in that situation, do the same thing. The manager told me when he was 17 he found a wallet with $6,000 cash in it and turned it in. He received a $100 reward for his honesty, but more importantly he had the gratification of knowing he did the right thing.

I replied to the manager, and whoever else was around listening, my strong belief that the reward to this honest person that turned in my check, even though I couldn't pay anything, would be magnified enormously because he/she did it anonymously. I truly believe that.

Soon I found myself looking around, wondering who might've turned in my check. I looked from face to face, trying to imagine who did it. Who was this kind and honest person? Could've been anyone in there. And everyone.

So if this random act of kindness could've been anyone ... and everyone ... then I had to conclude this event was a reaffirmation that people are basically good. Most people do have a good heart, and in this kind of situation will do the right thing. This proves it.

How can I repay that?

I don't know, but I'll try.

What this also says to me is that if each one of us can in some small way try to do something right, kind, honest, and good for someone else, like this benefactor did for me, that small act will be returned many times over.

Even if it's a seemingly insignificant act of kindness, the effect will be multiplied many times over and our world will be a much better place. Even though we see so much greed and exploitation every day, I strongly believe this is true.

One more detail to complete this story -- I actually had two checks yesterday. Through a massive effort I somehow managed not to lose the other one. It was for $8.31. Ha.