In college, I was broke. The money I made working barely paid rent and utilities. Yes, I had scholarships but it was rough when you come from a family of poverty. I often ate oatmeal or oodles and noodles. I managed to afford a small gift, a book about God to send to Grammy Grace for her birthday (rest in peace Grammy). One problem though, I didn’t have money for postage! After not really thinking this through, I took it to the mailroom at the University Office I was working in. Well, you know what happened next. . .
I got caught
I was and still am mortified! Talking about learning valuable lessons! Would I have learned the same lessons if the package had not been flagged and turned in to my supervisor? Not likely. Even though this situation was terribly embarrassing then and still is now, shows that I was not living in line with my values. This act is considered stealing and I don’t steal. Did you catch that the book was about God? I never told Grammy Grace or my family or anyone what I did until writing this post today (gulp). I might have told a past therapist . She must have not judged me heavily as I can’t remember her reaction.
Things could have gone worse
My supervisor could have fired me or even worse, reported me to the admissions’ office, or even more worse, called the police. What she did was and still is an incredible moment of grace that I’ll never forget. She asked me if the package belonged to me. I didn’t hesitate and acknowledged my wrong doing (I realized later that my grandmother and I have the same last name so of course that was an easy crime to solve). She then told me that my job was safe because I told the TRUTH.
I’m not John ValJean*
I didn’t need to steal to feed my family. I myself was not hungry. I didn’t/don’t have a good excuse or rationale for what I did. I regret my actions. I learned lessons from this situation and want to share five tips now with you for the next time you think you are in a dilemma and considering doing the wrong thing:
5 Simple Tips For Doing the Right Thing
- Doing the wrong thing doesn’t feel good (guilt)
- Getting caught doing the wrong thing feels humiliating
- Have grace for someone if you catch them doing the wrong thing
- Have grace for yourself if you are truly sorry
- Do the right thing
*If you haven’t read or seen the musical “Les Miserables” by Victor Hgo, you are truly missing out on the most epic theatrical production of all time. It is amazing! Run to get your tickets now. You will be glad you did and hopefully you will think twice before stealing the pen from work again…Whoever stole my lunch from the fridge in the staff breakroom; I’m no longer angry at you.